A new documentary – to be aired as part of Channel 4’s commitment to Paralympic sport in the run-up to London 2012 – will travel inside the bodies of some of Britain’s leading disabled athletes.
The 90-minute documentary will examine five British Paralympic athletes, using “state of the art” scanning equipment to create “biomechanical portraits” of their bodies and show how they reached the top in their sport.
The programme – with the working title Inside Incredible Athletes – is being made by Renegade Pictures, which used similar techniques for its series Extreme Bodies, including an examination of the bodies of conjoined twins and a person of restricted growth.
Renegade also produced The Twins Who Share A Brain, a one-off documentary about conjoined twins.
But Alison Walsh, Channel 4’s disability executive, stressed that it would be an “intelligent documentary” that would “introduce viewers to the ability, stamina and skill required to perform Paralympic sport at an elite level”.
She said it would examine “extraordinary athletes at the peak of their profession, combining science with stunning sporting performance sequences that will portray Paralympic sport in the best possible light”.
ParalympicsGB – which manages Britain’s Paralympians – welcomed the documentary and stressed that it would not focus on the athletes’ impairments.
A ParalympicsGB spokeswoman admitted that they had initially had concerns when they heard about the documentary, but were “completely reassured” after meeting with Renegade.
She said: “They will show how they are able to achieve what they are able to achieve on the sports field in a way that will portray them as high-performance athletes.
“It is going to show Paralympic sport exactly how we see it, showing what incredible athletes they are. What they are not focusing on is the impairment aspect of that.”
The programme was one of two new commissions announced by Channel 4, both of which will screen later this year.
The other is a weekly Saturday lunchtime series that will profile British Paralympic athletes and provide “insight” into Paralympic sport.
Channel 4 said the show would “reveal the characters behind the competition”, “educate the public” and raise the profile of Paralympic sports.
It will be fronted by TV presenter and former Paralympic basketball star Ade Adepitan and presenter and DJ Rick Edwards, with other reporters to include Paralympic hopeful Nathan Stevens and Paralympic swimming gold-medallist Liz Johnson.
Phil Lane, chief executive of ParalympicsGB, praised the two “exciting, creative” programmes and said they marked “an important first step in our shared ambition to raise the profile of British Paralympic athletes and sports” well before 2012.
Julian Bellamy, head of Channel 4, said: “When we won the broadcast rights to the London 2012 Paralympic Games we promised we’d provide the strongest pre-Games broadcast coverage ever seen on UK television and these two commissions are just the start.”
Channel 4 has also launched its 2010 production trainee scheme and has reserved six places for disabled trainees as part of its “commitment to develop disabled talent” in the build-up to London 2012.
Applications close on 30 April. For more information, visit: http://4talent.channel4.com/extra/production-trainee-placements-2010
22 April 2010