UK commercial broadcaster Channel 4 has commissioned its first reality series to feature an all-black cast, comprising Nigerian British participants.
Coproduced by Cr8tive Row and Optomen, Highlife follows the lives and loves of a group of ambitious, glamorous young Nigerian Brits all chasing their own idea of success.
Commissioned by Vivienne Molokwu for Channel 4, Highlife will be overseen by Cr8tive Row’s CEO Daps (aka Oladapo Fagbenle), Luti Fagbenle and Optomen’s co-CEOs Tina Flintoff and Nick Hornby.
The four-part series will debut later this year in a 22.00 slot as part of Channel 4 Represents: Black to Front, formerly announced as Black Takeover last year, which is part of C4’s commitment to improve black representation on and off screen.
Highlife will air as part of Black to Front alongside a one-off special of The Big Breakfast fronted by comedian Mo Gilligan, and followed by some of C4’s biggest flagship shows reimagined with black talent, including Celebrity Gogglebox, Countdown and Channel 4 News. Soap Hollyoaks will be an hour-long special entirely written, directed and performed by its black talent.
Daps said: “There remains a lack of representation on British television. There are systemic issues that have disabled, or not enabled, certain groups to get key opportunities within the industry. This reality docuseries combats both these issues, celebrating a group of young, successful black Brits, and highlights issues this demographic face in an accessible way.”
African pay TV platform DStv is set to air controversial documentary Leaving Neverland, in which allegations of child abuse are made against the late pop star Michael Jackson.
Directed and produced by British filmmaker Dan Reed for Channel 4 in the UK and HBO in the US, this documentary will now be shown on African screens across the continent via MultiChoice-owned DStv.
The film exposes the experiences two adult men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, went through while they were kids and friends with Jackson. They make allegations of sustained abuse and reveal how they were affected by the relationship.
According to MultiChoice Nigeria’s chief customer office, Martin Mabutho: “Bringing Leaving Neverland to African screens is testament to the fact that DStv brings the most compelling content to the continent as quickly as possible.
“Please note, however, that documentary is not suitable for younger viewers as it contains strong language, discussions of self-harm and graphic descriptions of child sexual abuse.”
Leaving Neverland, which premiered in the US at the Sundance festival, will be aired on M-Net City and DStv channel 115.
MIPCOM: A show in which a UK radio star goes back to her roots in Nigeria to get a taste of life and love the traditional way is launching at Mipcom in Cannes.
UK-based distributor Hat Trick International has struck a multi-year first-look agreement with Summer Films, adding UK broadcaster Channel 4’s series Manhunting With My Mum to its catalogue.
The show follows Blackburn-born presenter, club DJ and radio host AJ Odudu, who has just turned 30 and remains single, as she goes back to Nigeria to find a man.
The twist is that she brings her mum, who is unimpressed with modern dating methods and has lined up four men she believes could be ideal husband material. After a date with each of these very different guys, in very different parts of Nigeria, will AJ finally find herself a man?
The show was commissioned by Channel 4 earlier this year and aired in August. Hat Trick is launching the show to international programme buyers here at the Mipcom TV market this week.
The company’s deal with Summer Films also includes the upcoming six-part series The Drag Lab, commissioned for Channel 4.
Independent factual specialist Summer Films was established last year by creative director Lucy Hillman (The Choir Military Wives) and Emmy-winning MD Sam Whittaker (Brat Camp, Worlds Strictest Parents).
Hat Trick International will manage global distribution rights to both titles.
“We’re delighted to secure this partnership with Summer Films. Teaming up with innovative independent producers is a key strategy for Hat Trick International and will ensure we continue to deliver the very best content to the global market,” said Hat Trick International’s acquisitions executive Hana Zidek, who brokered the deal.
Hillman said: “Were looking forward to working with Hat Trick International to bring our new productions to the global market. Both Manhunting With My Mum and The Drag Lab will deliver a uniquely entertaining perspective on themes that are relevant to viewers wherever they are in the world.”
Pay TV company MultiChoice has held the fifth edition of its annual Digital Dialogue Conference in Dubai.
The four-day conference saw media professionals and stakeholders discuss the future of Africa’s pay TV industry.
The speakers included David Abraham, former CEO of Channel 4 in the UK; marketing innovation expert and futurist Paul Papadimitriou; Yolisa Phahle, CEO of MNet; Nollywood filmmaker Femi Odugbemi; and John Ugbe, MD of MultiChoice Nigeria.
Discussing the amplification of African stories with digital technology, Yolisa Phahle said that creative innovation in local content is what keeps viewers interested.
“You speak to any of the people involved in the early days of MultiChoice, one of the things they remind me of is the absolute necessity to not just understand what the future holds but to shape the future, to be a disruptor and, if necessary, even to cannibalise yourself. ‘Why launch GOtv when you already have DStv?’ for example. But MultiChoice Africa was launched by people who were creating a media company not for the present, but one for the future,” she said.
According to her, creating local content in languages audiences understands is what makes content king. Emphasising the necessity for local content, she said that MultiChoice ensures it keeps all of Africa informed by producing 16 local content channels across the continent which showcase local storytellers.
“Today, in the midst of the digital revolution, collectively we have the opportunity to not only tell stories that educate and inform African audiences, but the digital age means we are in a position to take African stories to the world and create a global market for what we do.
“By using the internet and leveraging technology, we have the ability to reach audiences at a global level and the success of companies like Iroko TV, artists like Davido, actresses like Lupita N’yongo and the movie Black Panther are confirmation that the world is ready to consume African stories, celebrate African culture and embrace African languages,” she said.
Agreeing with Phahle, Peter Papadimitriou highlighted reasons why pay TV companies should put consumers’ interest above all else. “The current challenge for pay TV companies is to shift the focus from content delivery systems to understanding its consumers through primary data. For instance, when they watch, how long and how much,” he said.
“The new consumer is nomadic, they can be everywhere and anywhere – tribal, gathering around similarities. Singular, entrepreneurial and being who they want to be.”
Abraham discussed the plight of both pay and free TV. The pay model is about a battle between free TV and service providers’ creating pay walls and maintaining exclusivity over key content in order to promote monthly subscriptions and minimise loss of customers, he claimed. But now, broadband, as an additional service, and mobile phone technology is threatening this.
The advent of telecoms service providers raised the question of whether consumers will be able to shuttle between so many providers to find the best content.
“The African continent, with its younger populations and progressive use of mobile, can both build on and leapfrog Western markets in terms of future models of content creation and distribution,” he said.
The Digital Dialogue Conference is an annual event organised by MultiChoice Africa. Since its inception in 2012, it has become a thought leadership platform that fosters a better understanding of the future direction of Africa’s pay TV industry.