Executive producer: David Wise, Betty
The challenge: To raise the profile of adoption, through a series with broad appeal and factual entertainment values.
Our new series for C4 - Find Me a Family - was first discussed with C4 commissioning editor fact ent Dominique Walker two years ago and, finally, it is about to TX.
Our ambition was to create an awareness-raising series to bring together people who want to adopt with the hundreds of children who are left in care because no one has come forward to adopt them.
We wanted the real stories of would-be adopters going through the adoption process to provide the narrative spine of the films and to create more formatted, constructed elements that would encourage the adopters to consider offering homes to ‘hard-to-place' children.
Our biggest challenge was to get adoption agencies, local authorit-ies and social workers on board and to maintain their trust throughout the long production.
It took months of planning and negotiation to establish the relationships with our key agency partners and to create the content alongside them.
Once our partners were in place, we set up a steering committee of key production and adoption agency personnel, which met regularly to discuss the project. Meetings were long and sometimes fraught, but we shared a passion for the project and a determination to bring it to life.
When it came to the actual filming, careful planning was essential to maintaining the trust we'd established. For example, one of the key formatted elements of the series is to give the would-be adopters a trial run at parenting by giving them the opportunity to spend time with other people's children for a weekend.
We found parents who shared our passion and who agreed to let their children take part. All adopters, children and parents were psychologically assessed, to ensure that the parents' motivation was sound and the children were able to cope with the separation.
We put strict editorial protocols in place to cover every conceivable problem. We rigged up the houses with CCTV, so the parents and the social workers were able to watch everything. They were encouraged to intervene whenever they felt it would be helpful. In the end the weekends created some of the strongest sequences in the films.
We had to hold our nerve during the ups and downs of making such a sensitive series. Series producer Cal Turner was determined and expertly diplomatic throughout. C4 backed us all the way and the result, we feel, is a powerful, moving series with strong PSB values and broad appeal.
Find Me a Family starts on C4 on 11 May at 9pm.