Documentary Channel

CRIME & INVESTIGATION – Tuesday 23 August, 8.30pm

In August 2007 Britain was shocked by the brutal death of Garry Newlove who was punched and kicked to death in front of his three daughters outside his home in Warrington, Cheshire.

The 47-year-old was attacked when he confronted a drunken gang of yobs who were vandalising his wife’s car and his death sparked a national debate about antisocial behaviour, its extent and its causes.

Now, in an exclusive interview with Mark Austin for Real Crime, his widow, Helen, and the couple’s three daughters have come together to speak in detail about what happened the night Garry was killed. His daughters were the main witnesses and watched their father being beaten to death. They have never spoken before about exactly what they saw, and have said they will never speak about it again.

BBC Worldwide will re-launch New Zealand’s Documentary Channel as BBC Knowledge next year, in a major step forward in the development of its global branded channels business.

BBC Knowledge will join BBC Worldwide’s other channels on the SKY platform – BBC World News and UKTV – to create a bespoke factual content offering geared towards the needs of New Zealand audiences.

BBC Knowledge is an award-winning, entertaining factual destination that is already a successful channel in more than a dozen territories around the world. It has quality content presented by talented and passionate experts such as Louis Theroux, Paul Merton, Bruce Parry, Michael Palin and Ray Mears.

“Creating a tailored factual offering specifically for New Zealand tastes and preferences is at the very core of our content strategy.  BBC Knowledge will have local flavour and local relevance,” said Tony Iffland, BBC Worldwide Australia’s General Manager.

“We look forward to engaging with the local production sector to discuss content acquisition and other opportunities to bring New Zealand content to New Zealand audiences. With three channels now in the market, this is a brilliant opportunity to showcase the diversity and depth of our content.”

 “BBC Knowledge has so much in common with the Documentary Channel  – they are both the homes of challenging, trustworthy content that is as entertaining as it is informative,” said Richard Driver, owner of the Documentary Channel. 

“It’s been a difficult decision to decide to sell the channel that I’ve established and cultivated to its present level of success, but I know that BBC Worldwide will only build on its achievements and audiences.”

“New Zealanders have a strong appetite for quality documentary programming, which has already been demonstrated by the success of the Documentary Channel,” added Karen Bieleski, SKY Television’s Head of General Entertainment and Prime. “We are delighted to be working with BBC Worldwide to re-launch this expanded version of the channel, with even richer content and the solid backing of the BBC’s exceptional programming output.”

This deal demonstrates BBC Worldwide’s commitment to the New Zealand market, based on a strong New Zealand affinity to its content and its long-established presence as a provider of quality channels.

It will build on the success of UKTV, the country’s most popular general entertainment subscription channel, and of BBC World News, the destination of choice for thousands of New Zealanders looking for authoritative and up-to-the-minute global news coverage.

BBC Worldwide’s distribution business continues to work closely with New Zealand networks to provide access to award-winning content across all genres. Its other established businesses in New Zealand extend across digital, live events, magazines and DVD publishing.

The Documentary Channel screened this BBC Horizon programme called
“What’s the problem with Nudity” the other night. It tried to figure
out why nudity is such a social problem for our species by asking 8
total strangers who have never stripped or been nude in front of other
people (and a battery of TV cameras) to do exactly that. Coupled with a
potted history of homo sapiens and more ancient forebears, it tried to
figure out at what stage in our genetic and cultural history we decided
that it was not OK to be around others without “clothes” on.

As this
kind of cod TV science goes, it was rather un-illuminating on
practically all questions it set out to answer. On the contrary, it
left me with a great deal of other queries about aspects that never got
touched on.

The obvious clanger was asking 21st Century males and
females to rate male chests’ sexual attractiveness based on hirsuteness
or baldness of said chests. This was supposed to give a clue that
evolutionary we have lost our body hair because females preferred to
mate with hairless men. But what this really showed was the scientific
incompetence of the sex researchers setting up such a thoughtless,
biased and uncontrolled experiment: even intuitively (if I may) I would
have shown the subjects a range of hairy and hairless women to rate,
and I bet the outcome would have been far more pronounced in favour of
hairless-ness than the male-only version. Hairy females did far worse
evolutionary speaking than hairy males, just look at the number of
hairy men still with us compared to the amount of hairy females (ladies
with moustaches notwithstanding) and the relentless marketing of
lady-shaves, depilatory products and the opprobrium heaped on unshaven
continental women. And we all know that when woman are at their most
fertile era in their cycle, they prefer hairy bad boys as bed mates
over plucked metrosexuals – and this has a long history too:
interbreeding with hairy Neanderthal men apparently was far more common
than many of us would like to remember.

Friday 13 March at 8.30pm on DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL

Part two of three challenging documentaries from Channel 4’s Dark Side of Modern Love series examine the perils of 21st-century sexual liberation!

Sleeping with Teacher is an intriguing portrayal of four very different true stories of teacher-pupil relationships. Through personal interviews with both pupils and teachers, this fascinating documentary explores all sides of the controversy.

Former music teacher John, aged 43, began a relationship with his 16-year-old pupil Claire. Claiming they are in love, they have maintained their relationship despite constant hounding from the press and living amongst a disapproving community. English teacher Lucy is still a registered sex offender seven years after her relationship with a 15-year-old boy. Meanwhile, Rachel’s story highlights why society fears such relationships: she was just 16 when her PE teacher seduced her. And teacher Jonathan describes how harrowing it can be to face false allegations of sexual assault.

Wednesday 11 March at 8.30pm on DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL

New Zealand Premiere!

On April 1st 1994 Kurt Cobain jumped over the wall of the drug rehabilitation centre where he was staying at in Los Angeles. On April 8th 1994 an electrician discovered his body at his home in Seattle. During those seven days Kurt was officially listed as a missing person. This documentary reveals what really happened during the last days and hours in the life of Kurt Cobain. During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with drug addiction and the media pressures surrounding him and his wife, Courtney Love. His death was ruled a suicide with a shotgun wound to the head. Since then, the circumstances surrounding his death have fueled much analysis and debate. This documentary speaks to some of the people who saw or met with Cobain in his last week. Some of these people include: The woman who watched him lick his plate clean, and fail to sign a cheque in his local restaurant. Duff Mckagan, former bass player of ‘Guns n Roses’, who sat next to him on the plane back to Seattle. And his drug counsellor from rehab. There are also those who claim to have seen him in those last few days, to have touched the hem of his cloth. And then there is Brant, who saw him in a dream the night before he died. It is a film about the generation of a myth. Of the deification of Cobain and the eerie silence that fell over Seattle in the days following his death, when his ghost wandered the city.

Saturday 7 March at 8.30pm on DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL

New Zealand Premiere!

CONFESSIONS OF A SUPERHERO is a feature length documentary that chronicles the lives of three mortal men and one woman who make their living working as superhero characters on Hollywood Boulevard.  This deeply personal look into their daily routines reveals their hardships and triumphs as they pursue and achieve their own kind of fame.  The Hulk sold his Super Nintendo for a bus ticket to LA; Wonder Woman was a mid-western homecoming queen; Batman struggles with his anger, while Superman’s psyche is consumed by the Man of Steel.  Although the Walk of Fame is right beneath their feet, their own paths to stardom prove to be long, hard climbs.

“A more beautiful documentary you’re unlikely to find. Matt Ogens has composed every scene as though it could be freeze-framed and hung on a wall.”

Robert Wilonsky, The Village Voice

Wednesday 11th February at 8.30pm.

The story of the New Zealand born Berkeley Professor who revolutionised the way we study how life on earth evolved.

Allan Wilson: Evolutionary profiles the scientist’s remarkable career and explores the enduring impact of his ideas on anthropology, molecular biology and all the natural sciences. Wilson was short listed for the Nobel Prize and is the only New Zealander to win the prestigious US MacArthur “Genius” Award.

A groundbreaking researcher and a lightning rod for controversy, Wilson galvanized the scientific community through his quantitative biochemical approach to the history of evolution.  In the late 1960s, palaeontologists had dated our common ancestor with the apes as living 15 million years ago. Wilson turned that assumption on its head by bringing the date forward to just five million years, using what has become known as the ‘molecular clock.’ Wilson’s team were also instrumental in identifying ‘Eve’ – discovering that mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down the female line, can be traced back to one woman, who lived in Africa 150,000 years ago.

Drawing upon the insights and recollections of those who knew Wilson best, this documentary —narrated by paleoanthropologist Tim White, co-discoverer of the famous hominid fossil, “Lucy”—correlates milestones of his remarkable career with his enduring contributions that range from molecular phylogenies of multiple species to an understanding of mechanisms underlying the mode and tempo of organismal evolution.

Former students who worked closely with him on his key discoveries explain how his courage and insights overturned long held conventions. Superb animated graphics illustrate how he found new answers to the big questions of evolution: when did human and ape diverge? How close are the links we share with them? Where did modern humans come from? And how do we unlock the secrets of the past from the DNA of extinct creatures?

“Wilson’s battles for acceptance may not have been on the heroic scale of Galileo’s or Jenner’s but he was, for a long time, a man whose story was untold. Andrews, a prolific producer, was financed entirely by Berkeley, after TVNZ, which apparently regarded Dancing With The Stars as a worthier recipient of charter funding, passed.  There’s a good chance this will be your only chance to see this interesting, accessible film about a great New Zealander.”
* * * Stars. Peter Calder, New Zealand Herald, 2008.

“A shrewd insight into the man, well worth seeking out” Helene Wong NZ Listener

The Documentary Channel is delighted to be able to give away five copies of Allan Wilson: Evolutionary. For details please go to

Allan Wilson: Evolutionary has been scheduled to celebrate the birth of Charles Darwin on February 12th, 200 years ago and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the ‘Origin of Species’. The Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Evolution and Ecology, based at Massey University, is pleased to sponsor the BioEd2009 Symposium from February 12th to 15th to celebrate the impact of Darwin’s ideas on current scientific knowledge.

Talks in the symposium will cover topics ranging including: the origins of life and species; the impact of Darwinian thinking on our understanding of biology and biodiversity; the descent of man – what we’ve learnt about ourselves 200 years on; the response of biota to climate change and how it is expected to respond in the future; emerging infectious diseases and public health; the impact of Darwinian thinking in medicine; tools, ideas and resources for teaching evolution; and the future of education. For a full programme of events and speaker biographies, please visit the BioEd website:

The Allan Wilson Centre comprises world-class ecologists, evolutionists, geneticists and mathematicians who work together to unlock the secrets of plants, animals and microbes. Recognized both nationally and internationally for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to science, the Centre’s unparalleled combination of biology and mathematics has resulted in outstanding research achievements.  

Documentary Channel, SKY Digital Channel 74

DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL – Sunday 21 December, 8.30pm

There are many types of family, but the word’s not often applied to a rugby team – especially not one entirely made up of gay men. This is the story of the Emerald Warriors, Ireland’s only openly gay Rugby team. This is also the story of a bunch of guys from very different backgrounds, how they’ve overcome all the obstacles both physical and psychological. Queering the Pitch is a story about love, challenges, adversity, brotherhood, belonging, feather boas and oddly shaped balls.

‘When I first heard about a gay rugby team setting up in Ireland I immediately thought that would make a sensational documentary. I never suspected when I met the guys to ask permission to film some of their activities that it would change my life completely and that I would end up playing in the team.

The bond that formed between these guys was totally different to anything else I’d ever seen on the gay scene before. It wasn’t about drugs or pretty boys or new opportunities for sex, it was simply and purely about a love for a sport. But it grew into more than that. These guys simply put became a family.

A large, unique and highly dysfunctional one, but a family nevertheless.”

Tom Maguire, Director, 2007

Sunday 23 November

The Peace process in Northern Ireland led to the release of 400 prisoners convicted of terrorism, over a two year period. Two of them – one from each side of the conflict – share their personal perspective on the peace process. Reflecting on the 10 years that have passed since the Belfast Agreement this film examines crucial aspects of Ireland’s recent history through the eyes of Seanna Walsh (ex Republican prisoner) and Billy McQuiston (ex Loyalist prisoner). The complexity of the conflict, and of peace-making, as seen from inside and outside prison is explored through archive footage and a series of authentic and fascinating interviews. Family members, prison warders, relatives of victims and mediators give testimony of their own particular experiences. A timely and brilliant contribution on both the personal and political developments since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, ten years ago.

Monday 27 October, 7.30pm

Parenting issues make the front pages; bookshops are taken over by advice books; there are mothers’ groups and fathers’ groups. There is baby yoga, baby Mozart, baby organics and baby therapy. Despite all this, parenting has one very big taboo. It is still virtually impossible to publicly admit that having a child is something you regret – that your baby ruined your life. But in a world where an increasing number of people are actively choosing to remain childless, and those who do decide to become parents leave it later and later – and so have full and fulfilling lives ready to be sabotaged by the new arrival – this is increasingly the reality for many people. This film explores this taboo, with a selection of the most extreme, entertaining and thought provoking stories across the spectrum. We’ll have the stories every new parent can relate to: loss of libido, arguments over money, the heroic tales of battling physical exhaustion, mourning your “lost” life and boring all your friends senseless. And the stories nobody dares tell. This is the antidote to all the happy families parenting shows. This film presents the scary, untold truth – that not everybody is happy they decided to reproduce. Some people are furious about it.