“Extraordinary, innovative storytelling, both creatively and editorially”

The specialist-factual genre is broaching new and untapped ground and The Interrogation Of Tony Martin has led the charge on innovation. The one-off feature was based purely on transcripts from Martin’s 1999 run-in with the police, when the farmer was tried for killing a burglar in his Norfolk home.

One judge described the “totally new approach” to doc-making as being “executed impressively”, while another referred to “extraordinary, innovative storytelling, both creatively and editorially”.


Creating a drama out of a police transcript came with a huge amount of legwork but producers were up to the challenge.

With Martin’s co-operation, Story Films sent a freedom of information request to obtain a copy of his interrogation by the police. The 350-page transcript was then edited down into a 55-page script that could work as a scripted programme – keeping viewers hooked for 60 minutes, while staying true to the facts.

The decision to shoot the entire film as one continuous scene in one location was challenging but proved to be a masterstroke, as the creators trusted the audience to have the patience to immerse themselves in the story.

After also achieving success with 2018’s innovative Married To A Paedophile, verbatim factual drama could become a staple genre of the future, with C4 leading the way. The Interrogation Of Tony Martin could end up blazing a trail.


Burning Bright for Channel 4

100 Vaginas Womanhood693

Burning Bright linked up with photographer Laura Dodsworth to showcase stories and images previously unseen on television and the result was highly accomplished.

Forged by an all-female production team, 100 Vaginas shone a spotlight on the female experience through the lens of 18 brave contributors and started honest conversations about the female body across the country.

Blast! Films for Channel 4

big brother jade-goody

Told through the gripping narrative of the rise and fall of the late Big Brother reality star Jade Goody, this three-part series used archive footage in the most intelligent of ways to explore issues of class, race, gender and tabloid culture in the mid-noughties.

It left few dry eyes in the house.

Silverback Films for Netflix

Our Planet

Netflix announced itself on the natural history scene with this timely documentary, fronted (of course) by Sir David Attenborough. The eight-parter took viewers from the remote

Arctic wilderness to the landscapes of Africa and the bottom of the oceans, never straying far from reminding viewers just how much the natural world matters in the age of climate emergency.

Dragonfly for BBC Two

Surgeons at the edge of life

The BBC doubled down on blue-light factual in 2019 but this in-depth exploration of the hustle-and-bustle of an operating theatre still shone through, delivering audiences 25% above slot average.

It regularly peaked above the 2 million mark and captured intricate, groundbreaking and sometimes life-saving surgery in minute detail.

BBC Studios, Nova, WGBH Boston, Tencent Penguin Pictures and The Open University for BBC Two

The Planets

Every decade, the BBC sets out to profile the solar system and this latest attempt was unprecedented in scale.

Led by the ever-impressive Brian Cox, The Planets turned each planet into a unique character and combined with a fantastic soundtrack to give the landmark series the feel of a high-end drama.