Channel 4 announces new series The Audience (w/t)

Channel 4 is to put people’s life-changing decisions in the hands of an audience of 50 complete strangers as part of a brand new seven-part factual series, The Audience w/t.

Made by award-winning production company, The Garden (RTS Best Documentary Series 24 Hours in A&E and Seven Dwarves) and ordered by Senior Specialist Factual Commissioning Editor, David Glover, this original format will explore how ordinary people can be helped to make up their mind and move forward in their life, by a group of people who have never met them, or each other, on a truly extraordinary journey.

In each programme, The Audience will spend a week with a person at a crossroads, whose issue could range from: should I leave my job?, should I start again and move abroad?; to should I kick out my troublesome teen? or should we get married or separate? Unsure what to do, they turn to The Audience for help.

The Audience brings together a group of 50 ordinary men and women, of different ages, backgrounds and experience, who will follow the person or couple wherever they go – seeing them at work, at play and at home, and trying to solve their dilemma. Sometimes The Audience will simply observe, at other times they will ask questions, and together they will delve into people’s personal circumstances and uncover problems to inform a picture of their lives and how to improve it. At the end of the week, they will give their verdict on the path to take.

We all face difficult dilemmas and sometimes have to make a choice that could completely alter our future. For the individuals, the process will be emotional, sometimes difficult and often eye-opening. And for the audience holding this enormous responsibility, the process will see them navigate through the layers of heartache, resistance and personal revelations, as well as the nights out, cramped offices and kitchens of the people they’re trying to help.

Glover said: ‘Sometimes I used to daydream about what life would be like if one were constantly being followed around by an audience. The Garden suggested we do it for real, like a golf crowd follows golfers. This series has huge potential and we are now waiting to see how the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ unfolds.’

The 7 x 60min series is made by The Garden and the executive producers are triple Bafta winner Jonathan Smith and Tom McDonald (series producer on The Apprentice, executive producer Who Do You Think You Are?).

Smith says: ‘It’s taken nearly two years to develop this idea and we’re thrilled that it’s been commissioned. This is a very important project for The Garden. It demonstrates our continuing commitment to innovate and make distinctive programmes.

We’re finding, during filming, that living with an audience of 50 people for a week is an incredibly intense experience. Although they can sometimes be cruel to be kind, they really do want to help – and we’re seeing lives change for the better as a result.’

The Audience w/t will be broadcast later this year.

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