• Mentorn Media's programme The Batman Shootings, due to transmit on BBC Three at 9pm tonight, Sunday, 19th August, will feature exclusive interviews with some of the survivors of July's Aurora cinema shootings and for the first time, show the application form that Holmes completed and submitted when he tried to join a gun club in the weeks before the attack.

    Allowing the form to be seen publicly for the first time, the owner of Lead Valley Gun Club, Glen Rotkovich tells presenter Amal Fashanu: "This is the actual application that I received from him, with his name, address and all the general information on it and his parents' address in San Diego.

    "When I called James Holmes the problem was he had this rather guttural bizarre message on his answering machine. It was indistinguishable, rambling, very weird. So I left a message for him anyway. He didn't call back so I ended up calling the next day and the next day.

    "By the third day my attitude was you know, this is strange, bizarre. This isn't right. So I simply told the staff: This guy's not scheduled, he's not supposed to be here. If he shows please set him aside, don't process him till I get a chance to talk to him and find out who and what he is.

    "I wasn't necessarily suspicious; it's just that it wasn't normal. From my point of view, this was bizarre, it wasn't normal behaviour based on our norm for what happens. Which just made me say, I want to talk to him; I want to know who you are and what you're doing. "

    The Batman Shootings is the first documentary on the Aurora cinema shootings, and Amal speaks to four survivors, including Jansen Young who lived because her boyfriend, Jonathan Blunk, shielded her from bullets.

    Young remembers: "He pushed me down and said, 'Jansen, get down and stay down', and pushed me down behind the seats…and onto my stomach and pushed me under the seats.

    "The person above me was screaming 'I've been shot, I've been shot.' Even still I was thinking this has got to be a joke.

    "I could just feel blood running down from the seat above me. There was a man running over the seats… He stepped on my head and pushed my face more into this blood that kept running down, and it was running all over my back. I could hear someone breathing on my left side, like laboured breaths, and that's when I think I knew that Jon had been shot. I lay down until the gunshots stopped. I slid out from beneath the seats and Jon was unresponsive.

    "He completely protected me by telling me what I needed to do and pushing me into that seat further, he knew he was saving my life."

    In the days following the incident local owners of gun stores said they saw a threefold increase in gun sales.

    Jake Myers of Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo (not a place used by Holmes to purchase weapons), said: "The first couple of days I did see a real big influx in gun sales. But what I mostly saw was people wanting to take classes and learn how to use a firearm, or protect themselves. The day after the shootings actually we had about 20 people lined up outside waiting to take classes and learn how to use a firearm."

    Harmony Johnson, who was there on night of 19th July and is friend of Aurora victim Jessica Redfield, spoke about the night and her friend. Redfield was an aspiring sports broadcaster who had also been witness to the mall shootings in Toronto, Canada in the month before.

    Johnson said, "Her ambitions were so big and if anybody could succeed with dreams that big, Jessica would. She said it [the Toronto shootings] was definitely a horrific experience and scary but she didn't let it affect her. She didn't let her experience keep her a victim or make her afraid of living life at all. 

    "I remember my friends telling me that this was going to be the best night ever.

    "People were just dragging and crawling and running and screaming. It was the most horrific thing I've ever seen. There was like so much blood, it's not like what you see in Hollywood at all… You don't see that in the movies, and we were in the movies."

    Amal Fashanu also speaks to leading forensic psychologist at the University of Denver, Dr Max Wachtel, who has conducted and supervised hundreds of evaluations assessing mental health in cases of serious crime. Regarded as one of the leading practitioners of Forensic Psychology in Colorado, he is regularly used as an expert witness in court, often evaluating defendants in criminal cases to assess their competency to stand trial.

    Amal asks if there was anything unusual in Holmes' profile that would lead him to commit such an atrocity.

    Dr Wachtel said: "Honestly, no. You would expect a mass murderer to be psychopath or to have a personality disorder known as Anti-Social Personality Disorder, where you have very little empathy for others, can't relate to other people in a normal social manner, view others as a means to an end. None of that happened with the Aurora shooter. Everything that we know about him so far is that he was kind of a normal kid. Maybe a little quirky, I think he was smart; he may have had a little bit of trouble relating to other people because of that. But nothing out of the ordinary."

    Commissioned by Fiona Campbell for BBC News and Current Affairs, the Producer/Director is Mark Gregory and Jim Booth is the co-Producer and Steve Anderson is Executive Producer.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com.

  •  

    The Hairy Bikers are about to embark on their ultimate food and music pilgrimage for the first time. Produced by Mentorn Media, the series starts on Good Food Channel tonight at 9pm and sees the Hairy Bikers get back in the saddle to explore the length of the iconic Mississippi River in America, in pursuit of the delicious roots of soul food and Southern music.

    Each episode of the Hairy Bikers' Mississippi Adventure will be fact-packed, recipe-rich and themed by a different Southern music genre - Jazz, Blues, Cajun, Country, Soul and Rock and Roll - and accompanied by the locations and food stories that help to define them.

    Viewers will also be able to chart the extraordinary journey of the perennially popular pair through their first app, which will include an exclusive interactive map, as well as details about the dishes, recipes, flavours and tips from characters that the boys meet along the way.

    The Hairy Bikers said: "We are over excited - to say the least - about our trip to Mississippi: the mix of music, food and motorcycles goes back to the roots and soul of the Hairy Bikers.  The series promises to be a journey of discovery into the culture of food and music of the Deep South.  We visit New Orleans for Blues and Tamales, Memphis for a Soul Stew and Fried Chicken, Nashville for Country and Western, Pulled Pork and Slaw and Lafayette for Cajun and Shrimp Creole.  Living the true spirit of an American road movie, we set out on Harley Davidsons to cover more than three thousand miles of American Tarmac.  It feels good to be on the road again.  Get your helmets and come along for the ride."

    GoodFoodchannel.co.uk will complement the material featured in the series and app, through additional filmed content.  Each of the exciting new recipes from the Hairy Bikers' Mississippi Adventure will also be featured on the website, helping to enhance the impressive library of more than 16,000 dishes already available.

    For more information about the series please contact Nicola Rowley, Lifestyle Publicity Manager at UKTV on 020 7299 6271 or email: nicola.rowley@uktv.co.uk or Lou at Plank PR for Mentorn Media enquiries on 020 8995 3936 Lou@plankpr.com

    Notes to Editors

    About Good Food (goodfoodchannel.co.uk)
    Good Food features all the biggest names in food, including Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, James Martin, Rachel Allen, and The Hairy Bikers.  Appealing to both the expert cook to someone who just wants to have fun with food, Good Food delivers exciting originations such asThe Roux Legacy, Perfect…, Choccywoccydoodah,Rachel Allen: Bake!, and Valentine Warner: Coast to Coast, alongside overseas titles such asMan v Food, Ace of Cakes and Luke Nguyen's Vietnam.

    Where to find Good Food: Sky channel 247 and Virgin TV channel 260.


    About UKTV (www.uktv.co.uk)

    UKTV is a major industry player and one of the most important and successful multichannel providers in the UK. Formed in 1997, it is an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, and Scripps Networks International.

    Attracting over 40 million viewers each month, the network consists of 10 distinctive channel brands - Watch, Gold, Dave, Alibi, Yesterday, Blighty, Eden, Home, Really and Good Food - offering a broad range of quality programming across entertainment, lifestyle and factual. UKTV currently operates 22 broadcast streams when its eight multiplexes and four HD channels are taken into account, and 11 highly successful websites. The network also runs video on demand (VOD) services on Sky and BT Vision.

    UKTV's successful programming strategy combines high profile original commissions and key acquisitions with quality content from the BBC.

    All UKTV channels are distributed on Sky and Virgin Media. Dave, Really and Yesterday are also available on Freeview.

  • In a discussion about gay marriage on BBC Three's Free Speech this evening, the SNP Member of Scottish Parliament Humza Yousaf claimed gay marriage was an issue of religious freedom.

    Yousaf, a practicing Muslim who is currently fasting for Ramadam, said: "There is a lot of courage being shown by those who have decided to take it [the Same Sex Marriage Bill] forward but the argument is about religious freedom. For me it centres entirely around religious freedom, those that don't want to do it should absolutely, unequivocally be protected from not doing it and that should be on the face of the bill. From a Scottish Government perspective that equality, that reassurance was given.

    "For me religious freedom always cuts both ways. I'm a practicing Muslim but for me, whatever my views may be, whatever my Mosque's view might be, that shouldn't impinge upon Quakers, upon those who are from the Metropolitan Church, upon reformed Jews who want to practice same sex marriage. "

    Tonight's Free Speech was an education special and came live from Edinburgh. The panel for tonight's Free Speech chaired by Jake Humphrey included: comedian Shappi Khorsandi; the SNP's Humza Yousaf, 27-year-old Member of the Scottish Parliament; Ruth Porter from the Institute of Economic Affairs, and journalist Milo Yiannopoulos.

    Free Speech is on BBC Three every month and available on BBC iPlayer after transmission.

    For further information please call Sally Kent on 07941635723 or email sally@plankpr.com

     

  • In the week that A-level results are released in England and Wales, an exclusive opinion poll for FREE SPEECH on BBC THREE Wednesday, 15th August at 7pm shows that more than 7 out of 10 young people say the new system of tuition fees will lead to fewer applying and attending university.

    The new system has been announced in England and Wales and comes into effect in September 2012. Students will receive loans to pay for their tuition, with most universities charging £8,000-£9,000 a year for three years. Students have to pay back their loans after graduation, when they earn more than £21,000 a year.

    The rise in Wales and Northern Ireland will not affect home students. Students from Wales will be subsidised by the Welsh Assembly wherever they study in the UK.

    In Scotland, Scottish students will continue to pay no fees, although those coming from other parts of the UK will be eligible for fees of up to £9,000.

    ComRes surveyed five hundred 16-25 year olds in Great Britain by telephone between 2nd and 12th July 2012. Respondents were sampled and weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults aged 16-25.

    Asked if they thought the change to university tuition fees will or will not lead to fewer people applying to and attending university, 72% said fewer people will apply and attend university, with 25% saying it will not lead to fewer pursuing university; 2% didn't know.

    Asked if universities are justified or unjustified in charging tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year, 70% said it was unjustified, 26% said it was justified and 4% didn't know.

    However, most young people in the survey think that overall a University degree is worthwhile. Asked: "Overall, do you think that going to University is worthwhile and outweighs the cost of going to University, or not?", 57% said Yes, 37% said No , and 6% either didn't know or thought neither was the case. Almost three-quarters (74%) of young people surveyed who are currently in education think that the benefit of having a degree outweighs the costs of going to university, compared to 53% of those in work.

    37% of young people aged 22-25 do not think that employers value A-Level qualifications although 61% disagree. The majority of those surveyed overall (92%) thought that Universities valued A-Levels more than employers (68%) or politicians (58%).

    ComRes comments: "The survey suggests that young people think that the recent rises in student tuition fees are unjustified, and that the result will be less people applying to and attending university. However, despite this, the majority of young people agree that the benefits of having a degree outweigh the financial cost of going to university."

    FREE SPEECH is presented by Jake Humphrey and comes live from Edinburgh's Corn Exchange on Wednesday 15th August at 7pm. A studio audience of 120 local young people will question a panel that includes comedian Shappi Khorsandi and the SNP's Humza Yousaf, 27-year-old Member of the Scottish Parliament.

    FREE SPEECH is a Mentorn Media production for the BBC.

    Follow the debate on @BBCFreeSpeech #FreeSpeech

    Notes to Editors

    ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables can be found at comres.co.uk

    Further results:

    The South (79%) is the region with the highest proportion of young people who think that higher university tuition fees will lead to fewer people applying and attending university, compared to 70% of young people in Scotland and the North, and 68% from the Midlands, East and Wales.

    Young people with a university degree are more likely than those without to believe that higher fees will mean fewer pursuing university:  78% of them said it would lead to fewer people going to university, compared to 69% with no university education.

    Men (35%) are more likely than women (17%) to think that universities charging tuition fees up to £9,000 a year is justified.

    BBC Three's Free Speech is a co-commission from BBC Three, BBC Learning and BBC News and Current Affairs.

    BBC Three's fully interactive, live debate show, Free Speech, brings an Education Special from the home of the world's largest arts festival, Edinburgh on Wednesday, 15th August at 7pm.

    For further information please contact Plank PR on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

     

  • BBC One Wales has re-commissioned the successful Mentorn Media series Rolf on Welsh Art, it has been announced.

    The four-part series sees legendary presenter Rolf Harris return to Wales to look at examples of iconic and popular Welsh art, exploring work by legendary artists Grenfell Jones - better known as cartoonist Gren,  Augustus John, Evan Walters and Brenda Chamberlain.  Rolf will once again discuss their inspiration and influences, meeting people who have personal and direct knowledge of the art, its history and special importance. It will be a personal and creative journey for Rolf - a series designed to make art both accessible and entertaining to a BBC One Wales audience. At the end of each programme Rolf will paint his own homage and tribute by painting in the artists' unique style.

    The first series, which transmitted Spring 2011, saw Harris go on a fun and revealing trip across Wales as he discovered the stories behind four great artists inspired by the country and its people, including Sir Kyffin Williams, Josef Herman, Graham Sutherland and Shani Rhys James.

    Mentorn Media Executive Producer, Neil Grant, said: "Mentorn is delighted to once again be working with the national treasure Rolf Harris, and to be producing this second highly popular series once again for BBC Wales."

    Adrian Davies, Head of Programmes and Services, English, for BBC Cymru Wales, said "I am delighted Rolf will be returning to our screens in the autumn, bringing the work of some of Wales's most celebrated artists to life in his inimitable way in what has proved to be an entertaining and accessible series."

    Rolf added, "I hugely enjoyed my exploration of the historic Welsh art scene in the first series, and I'm thrilled to be returning to Wales.  It's great to learn more about artists who, until now, have only been a name on a piece of paper to me."

    The four-part programme is series produced by Ken Kirby and due to transmit in Autumn 2012.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on behalf of Mentorn Media on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

     

  • Steve Anderson has been appointed Editorial Director for Tinopolis Group, it has been announced.

    Anderson will continue to be Executive Producer for Mentorn Media series including Question Time, The Big Questions and Free Speech as well as developing documentary programmes and series for all broadcasters. His most recent commission is The Batman Shootings for BBC Three.

    His expanded role will see him take on additional responsibilities for journalistic strategy across the Tinopolis group, building new opportunities for expansion outside mainstream broadcasting whilst ensuring the highest editorial standards are set throughout the group.

    Anderson was a key figure in the successful bid by a Tinopolis consortium to run local news in Scotland until the incoming Government aborted the process in May 2010. Earlier this year he led Mentorn's successful retention of Question Time, securing the contract for the next three years.

    Arwel Rees, Managing Director of Tinopolis, said: "Steve's reputation and experience in television journalism is unrivalled and this is a great chance to use our reputation to build ventures in the USA as well as here."

    John Willis, Chief Executive, added: "We see more opportunities to use our high quality production skills to expand into new areas. Steve's journalistic reputation makes him the ideal person to lead this drive."

    Steve Anderson said: "Being able to combine Question Time, which is one of the crown jewels of British television, with new and exciting digital projects is the best of both worlds and makes sense as the broadcasting industry continues to evolve at such speed. Plus, it's a great honour to be given such a strategic role across the Tinopolis group, which is a benchmark for quality production."

    Notes to Editors

    The Tinopolis Group is an international media producer and distributor. In the UK it is one of the largest independent television suppliers to major broadcasters working in all genres - factual, entertainment, sport, drama and digital media. In the USA they produce television programmes for all the top networks. Through Tinopolis' distribution companies it has a significant presence in the global media marketplace.

    The Group brings together some of the most respected names in the TV production sector. Mentorn Media is the UK's most experienced factual producer. Sunset + Vine the country's leading independent sports producer. Daybreak is a multi-award winning drama supplier and Pioneer Productions has a global reputation for ground-breaking specialist factual programming. Tinopolis Wales/Cymru is the UK's largest regional independent. In the USA, A. Smith and Co. is a market leader in factual entertainment and BASE Productions makes cutting-edge factual and factual entertainment programmes.

    The Group has invested heavily in new media providing multiplatform programme support, as well as digital resources for the corporate and learning sectors.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

     

  • Mentorn Media has been commissioned to produce a one-hour documentary on the Colorado Cinema Shootings for BBC Three, it has been announced.

    The Batman Shootings is the first documentary on the gun massacre in the USA. Presenter Amal Fashanu travels to Aurora, Colorado, and speaks to survivors including Jansen Young who lived because her boyfriend shielded her from bullets. Amal also discovers how the gunman tried to join a local rifle club in the weeks before the shootings.

    Speaking to young Americans, Amal hears what they say about the rights to own a gun, which is protected by the US Constitution, and finds out whether they think the State of Colorado should pass the death penalty on the gunman, James Holmes, who identified himself to police as The Joker.

    Amal said: "I attended the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Leicester Square and it was incredible that just days later, I was heading to the USA to the place where 12 people died because they were watching the same movie."

    Executive Producer Steve Anderson, said: "Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora - and even this weekend the shootings at the Sikh Temple in Milwaukee in which seven people were killed - the list of gun massacres in the USA grows ever longer. America is mainly split on the issue of gun controls - this film concentrates on what young people there think should happen now."

    Zai Bennett, Controller, BBC Three. "America's gun laws are firmly back on the political agenda after the tragic shootings in Aurora, so it's right that on BBC Three we have commissioned the Batman Shootings; an in-depth current affairs documentary from Mentorn which is being produced at incredible speed in response to the tragedy."

    Commissioned by Fiona Campbell for BBC News and Current Affairs, the programme transmits on August 23rd on BBC Three. The Producer/Director is Mark Gregory and Jim Booth is the co-Producer.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com.

  • Mentorn's For Neda Film has been shortlisted for The Grierson 2012: British Documentary Awards, it has been announced.

    For Neda, a Mentorn Media produced documentary, first broadcast in 2011 on More 4, examined the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose senseless shooting made her the international face of Iranian opposition.

    The film has been shortlisted for the Shell Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme (International) which honours a single documentary or an episode from a strand or series, which deals primarily with an international subject and which reflects the Grierson tradition of social or political documentary on a contemporary theme.

    Multi-award winning director, Antony Thomas, travelled from California to the Turkish/Iranian border to find people who knew Neda personally or were close to the events of June and July 2009. But the only way to get to the personal heart of the story was to work inside Iran -- at a time when foreign film-makers were forbidden entry, and Iranians themselves risked arrest and long term imprisonment if caught filming without official approval. Thanks to the exceptional bravery of Neda's family and Saeed Kamali Dehegan, a young undercover Iranian journalist, Neda comes to life through first time interviews with her father, mother, sister and younger brother.

    Established in 1972, the Grierson Awards recognise and celebrate documentaries from Britain and abroad that have made a significant contribution to the genre and that demonstrate quality, integrity, creativity, originality and overall excellence.

    Prior to For Neda's US broadcast, HBO gave permission for its pre-release in Iran via the Voice of America's Persian News Network where it was shown multiple times, and on various websites in English, Arabic, and Farsi. It became the most successful viral programme of all time.

    The documentary has received accolades of the highest degree, including winning the Foreign Press Association's Best TV Feature/Documentary Award and was amongst 2011's Peabody Awards winners list. Antony Thomas and Saeed Kamali Dehegan were also honoured by the FPA when presented with the Journalist of the Year award.

    Note to Editors

    For Neda was originally broadcast on 14th June 2011, repeated on the anniversary of Neda's death. In the UK BAFTA held a screening, Amnesty International, Frontline Club all held screenings while it received its European premier at the Sunny Side Documentary Festival on June 22nd 2010.

    For further information please contact Sally Kent at Plank PR: sally@plankpr.com or 020 8995 3945

  • BBC Three has commissioned Mentorn Media to produce a one-off documentary on the devastating impact that acne can have on young people, it has been announced.

    The one-hour programme, Dying for Clear Skin, which forms part of the channel's Body Beautiful season, considers how society's obsession with looks puts extraordinary pressure on young people to have perfect, smooth skin.

    In 2011 Jesse Jones went missing and five days later his body was found at the bottom of a cliff. Presenter, Gemma Cairney, speaks to his friends and family as she investigates how a young, confident boy transformed into a 24-year-old young man whose obsession and worry about his acne had tragic consequences.

    Gemma herself had skin problems as a teenager and she meets Will, a 15-year-old boy, and empathises with his current battle as a chronic acne sufferer. She accompanies him to experience first-hand how a supposedly minor issue is destroying lives around the UK; follows him to see what treatment is available and talks to leading experts about what can be done to help people with the condition.

    Mentorn Media also produces BBC Three's live debate show, Free Speech. Presented by Jake Humphrey the focus during the season will be on how much body image impacts on young people's lives.  Four panellists will join the studio audience in the programme that involves viewers from beginning to end. Viewers have their say on which aspects of body image should be discussed while the Free Speech Power Bar is updated live to reflect what the audience thinks of the panellists' responses.

    Dying for Clear Skin was commissioned by BBC's Fiona Campbell with Hannah Wyatt as Executive Producer for Mentorn Media.  The Director is Derek Jones, Jesse's father.

    Free Speech is a co-commission from BBC Three, BBC Learning and BBC News and Current Affairs.

    The Series Producer is Susan Crook. The Executive Producer is Steve Anderson for Mentorn Media; Cerys Griffiths for BBC Learning and Fiona Campbell for BBC News and Current Affairs.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank at Plank PR on 020 995 3936 or follow us on twitter @mentornmedia