Channel 4 Unveils 2019 Slate: ‘Brexit’ Drama Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Aisling Bea Comedy ‘Happy AF’ & More

Channel 4 has set nine new shows for their 2019 slate. At an event where Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon and Director of Programmes Ian Katz updated the industry on their plans, the broadcaster announced a wealth of commissions that will sit on their 2019 slate.

Leading the commissions is one-off drama Brexit, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), which explores the data driven campaign behind the referendum; Happy AF, a comedy staring Aisling Bea and Sharon Horgan; and over at E4, comedy Maxxx, starring O-T Fagbenle (Looking) about a formerly famous boyband star turned drug-shamed tabloid laughing stock.

At the event, the two execs also announced that they were opening up the 11pm slot for experimenting with entertainment, live, and topical humour. E4 was highlighted as a priority and, alongside getting a channel controller who will report to Katz, the channel’s budget is also being increased by some £10 million.

Full Details Of The New Commissions Follow Below:

Channel 4

Brexit

This two-hour drama from James Graham explores the data-driven political campaign behind one of the most contested, controversial government referendums in modern history.Benedict Cumberbatch will play Dominic Cummings, the leading strategist and Campaign Director of Vote Leave. Sherlock Helmer Toby Haynes is attached to direct. It was commissioned by Channel 4’s Head of Drama Beth Willis and is being produced by House Productions. The executive producers are Juliette Howell and Tessa Ross.

“I’m so excited – not to mention a little nervous – to have this chance to try and get under the skin of what happened during that historic vote”, writer James Graham said in a statement. “I hope by going behind-the-scenes of the campaign, we’re able to interrogate the consequences of what happened during these 8 weeks that have changed the country forever. To work with this incredible team and Channel 4 to bring this story to life on screen is a real honour.”

Happy AF

Happy AF is a comedy about moving on, moving forward and trying to find happiness. It follows Aine (Aisling Bea), who is trying to pull her life back together after a “teeny little nervous breakdown”. Her sister Shona (Sharon Horgan) is increasingly worried about both her sister and her own mortality. And whether or not there’s room in her apartment for her boyfriend, Vish, now that she’s bought that new coffee table.

“This show is my baby and I am extremely excited about it. Sharon and I have been trying to make a baby for a few years now and in the last while we’ve gotten some extra help in and now finally I am pregnant with a show and can’t wait to give birth to it, put it in a pram and show it to everyone”, said series creator and star Aisling Bea. “This is a metaphor for making TV by the way, I am not pregnant.”

The series was commissioned by Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor Jack Bayles and Head of Comedy Fiona McDermott. Merman is producing, with Alex Winckler serving as the director. The executive producers are Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford. “Aisling Bea is such a multi-talented performer and writer and we’re delighted that we’re getting to make this show with her for Channel 4, the perfect home for Happy AF”, Horgan and Mountford said.

Antisocial Media

Channel 4 has handed out a broadcast pilot order to this project as part of their aforementioned experimentation with the 11pm slot. Antisocial Media is a fast turnaround clip based topical comedy which will put a subversive twist on the week’s events. The project hails from the Sony backed Electric Ray and Mother Best Child. Mother’s Best Child are Guy Davidson and Dan Clarke, writers and producers of news footage mash ups and sketches whose videos have racked up over 250 million hits online.

The pilot was commissioned for Channel 4 by Head of Entertainment Ed Havard, Commissioning Editor for Entertainment Syeda Irtizaali, and Commissioning Editor for All 4 and Entertainment Josh Buckingham. “It’s going to take some genuinely disturbed minds to make the world look weirder than it already is”, said Electric Ray’s Karl Warner, who serves as an executive producer alongside Shaun Parry. “We’re thrilled to be working with Guy and Dan of Mother’s Best Child.”

Futureproof

Fronted by Jamali Maddix, Futureproof is a three-part specialist factual series that will follow Jamali as he meets the people finding new ways to sell sex, become celebrities – and maybe even change the world. Each 60 minute episode will focus on a different theme to discover some of the main issues thrown up by the digital age: sex, fame and cryptocurrency. It is being produced by Acme Films, with David McConnell serving as the director. The executive producer is Jaimie D’Cruz.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with Jamali. He’s a perfect fit for Channel 4 – inquisitive, charming, funny, and utterly fearless – and we can’t wait to let him loose on this eye-opening new series”, said Channel 4’s Comissioning Editor Alf Lawrie.

Next Week’s News

Channel 4 has ordered a not-for-broadcast pilot for this late night satirical news show fronted by Deborah Frances-White, the comedian and writer behind comedy podcast The Guilty Feminist. The studio based format will see Deborah  galvanise her fan base of engaged followers to speak out on a range of issues. With a combination of irreverent stunts, celebrity guests, politicians, a house band and a smattering of topical talk, Next Week’s News is bound to set the news agenda alight.

Next Week’s News is set up at Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford indie Merman and was commissioned by Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Entertainment Syeda Irtizaali. The executive producers are Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford. The Series Producer is Kate Staples. “There’s no doubt in our minds that Deborah Frances-White will be as committed to making people laugh as she is to engaging them politically”, Horgan and Mountford said. “We are very excited to be hanging on to her cape tail as she sets about bringing down the baddies and changing the world for the better. If any one can do it Deborah can.”

The Big Narstie Show

Channel 4 has handed out a six episode order to this late-night entertainment series follow a successful pilot earlier this year. The Big Narstie Show has been picked up for the 11pm slot and is hosted by Grime MC Big Narstie and stand-up comedian Mo Gilligan AKA Mo the Comedian In each episode Narstie and Mo will be joined by celebrity guests as they present original, straight-talking segments on the news of the week, TV, showbiz, trends, phone-ins, and food.

The series was commissioned by Channel 4’s Head of Entertainment Ed Havard, Commissioning Editor for Entertainment and Events Syeda Irtizaali and Commissioning Editor for Specialist Factual Shaminder Nahal. It is set up as a co-production between Expectation and Dice Productions. The executive producers are  Expectation and Dice Productions. Aoife Bower is the series producer.

“I can safely say the pilot was like nothing else on television – mad, funny, anarchic and utterly distinctive – and I am delighted that we now get to spend quality time in the company of the indomitable and brilliant Big Narstie and the ridiculously talented Mo Gilligan”, said Syeda Irtizaali. “This series is going to be a real treat.”

Kathy Burke: All Woman

This three-parter sees Kathy Burke on a mission to discover what it really means to be a woman in 2018. Covering key themes that resonate with women of today – Beauty & Image, Work & Motherhood, Sex & Relationships – Kathy will tackle the big and small issues affecting women of all shapes and sizes. Along the way Kathy will meet some of the UK’s most innovative and successful women, celebrities, social and political commentators as well as people from her own past.

Kathy Burke: All Woman was commissioned by Channel 4’s Acting Head of Entertainment Lucy Leveugle and will be overseen by Sarah Lazenby, Commissioning Editor for Factual Entertainment. Flicker Productions are producing, with Colleen Flynn and Nina Davies serving as executive producers. “Bringing the voices of women to our screens and with the iconic Kathy Burke at the helm, we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Channel 4 on what we know will be an incredibly timely series”, Flynn said.

The Circle

The Circle will see individuals from all walks of life will compete in a popularity contest to win up to £50,000. They will all live in one modern block but separately in individual apartments, interacting with one another exclusively through a bespoke voice-activated social media platform called The Circle. They will be able to communicate as a group or individually, allowing cliques to form and private allegiances to be made.

Popularity matters and all will be trying to avoid being judged least popular by the rest of The Circle. Throughout the contest the competitors will rate each other with whoever is liked the least running the risk of being ‘blocked’ and removed from The Circle. It is only when someone is ‘blocked’ that the others will learn about who they have really been interacting with. The series was commissioned by Channel 4 Deputy Director of Programmes Kelly Webb-Lamb and Factual Entertainment commissioning editor Gilly Greenslade. Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group are producing. The executive producers are Tim Harcourt, Daisy Lilley and Toni Ireland for Studio Lambert and Martin Oxley for Motion Content Group.

E4

Maxxx

Maxxx follows formerly famous boyband star turned drug-shamed tabloid laughing stock Maxxx (O-T Fagbenle). He’s down, but not out…he’s trying to make a comeback to prove to the world – but mostly to his famous popstar ex-girlfriend – that he’s not the massive loser everyone says he is. The six episode comedy series is being produced by Luti Media and co-funded by Channel 4 and All3Media international.

“O-T Fagbenle’s new comedy Maxxx is smart, rude, shameless and funny as hell”, said Channel 4’s Head of Comedy Fiona McDermott, who commissioned the series alongside Commissioning Editor Rachel Springett. “In a social media obsessed world where celebrity is the only currency that really counts, Maxxx is a former-insider exiled to wrong side of the velvet rope. It’s brilliantly perceptive and we can’t wait to bring it to E4”.