• Mentorn Media has produced a fast-turnaround documentary on Pope Francis for National Geographic Channels International (NGCI). Taking a close-up look at the new Pope and his challenges ahead, Pope Francis: Road to the Vatican will begin premiering in the UK on Good Friday, 29th March at 8pm and over Easter weekend on National Geographic Channel in 170 countries.

    NGCI asked Mentorn to reversion an existing documentary, Vatican: Life Within; however, with the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina on March 13, it turned into a much more ambitious project. The initial programme, Vatican: Life Within, gained rare access, interviewing staff and revealing how they manage daily life for the Pope. The new 1 x 60 special was commissioned by Hamish Mykura, Executive Vice President and Head of International Content for NGCI after Pope Benedict resigned.

    "National Geographic Channel has experienced lots of success in developing strong, fast-turnaround specials that examine gripping current events, and are produced in the moment.  From our most recent special World's Biggest Festival: Kumbh Mela to Superstorm New York and now Pope Francis: Road to the Vatican, we can present shows which feel up to the minute.  It's superb to have a documentary on the new Pope ready to run worldwide over the Easter weekend," said Mykura.

    After the ratings-busting fast turnaround for BBC Three on Oscar Pistorius, Mentorn Media was asked by NGCI to supply fresh material to update and reversion the existing documentary, which was made around Pope Benedict, who announced his retirement in February.

    The new programme, Pope Francis: Road To The Vatican showcases to a global audience the Pope who declared that the Church had gone "to the end of the world" to find him. Pope Francis is the first Latin American Pope. The son of a railway worker in Argentina, Pope Francis says he wants a "poor church… for the poor".

    Steve Anderson, Executive Producer for Mentorn said: "The election of Pope Francis was unexpected and made it a far bigger story.

    "We sent a team to Buenos Aries to film interviews with people who have worked with Bergoglio over many years. We were also in the main square of Buenos Aries, the Plaza del Mayo, to film thousands of people watch the Pope's inauguration in the Vatican, being beamed live to big screens that had been erected specially for the occasion.

    "It was a massive event for Argentina. The new film is now able to reflect that, along with the reasons why Pope Francis has a reputation for being a 'Pope of the Poor'.

    "Filming finished on the Tuesday and producer/director Paul Russell flew back to London with the material. We edited through the night Thursday and Friday to deliver the programme to Washington DC on Saturday."

    The producer is Charlotte Fisher, the picture editor is Stephen Prince and the Production Executive is Emily Freshwater. Editing took place at Clear Cut, Hammersmith.

    Carolyn Payne is Executive Producer for NGCI.


    Pope Francis: Road To The Vatican will air on Friday 29th March at 8pm in the UK.

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

  • Newly appointed Controller of Radio 5 live, Jonathan Wall, has today announced changes to the station's schedule, which will see increased emphasis on its news and political output along with an unprecedented collaboration with BBC One's Question Time.

    From 16 May, BBC 5 live will simulcast Question Time hosted by David Dimbleby on Thursday nights as part of a new commitment to politics. The 5 live show will start from the earlier time of 10pm, with Stephen Nolan and John Pienaar following up with live debate on the topics addressed in the show. Then, from early September, popular Sunday politics programme Pienaar's Politics moves to a more prominent 10am Sunday morning slot.

    John Pienaar says: "With a coalition government in office, and the country still in an economic hole, it's important to watch our politicians, explain what they're up to, and hold them to account - while also allowing them to speak for themselves. I'm delighted to be a part of these schedule changes, which will allow us to put an even greater emphasis on strong political debate, and hopefully bring programmes to as many listeners as possible."

    Steve Anderson, Executive Producer of Question Time for Mentorn Media, says: "It's a testament to Question Time's importance that Radio 5 live now wants to broadcast the programme as it transmits on BBC One. We are delighted the BBC wants to bring even more people to the show and to extend the debate after David Dimbleby has said goodnight."

    Weekend Breakfast will also have a new look from Saturday 11 May as Tony Livesey joins the early morning team. Eleanor Oldroyd will co-present on Saturdays while Radio Manchester's Sam Walker joins Tony for the extended Sunday morning show, which will run until 9am. Gary Richardson's iconic Sportsweek will move to a later slot of 9am.

    Phil Williams will move from weekends to late nights with his own show on Monday to Wednesday's from 10.30pm to 1am, starting on Monday 13 May.

    These schedule changes follow the recent introduction of Bump Club, 5 live's biggest ever female-audience-targeted project, and the announcement of a second Big Day Out, the most ambitious outside broadcast ever undertaken by the station, which will take place in Liverpool on 1 June.

    Controller of Radio 5 live, Jonathan Wall said: "We want to create some really exciting new shows that showcase our news journalism - from a dynamic Thursday night around Question Time to an agenda-setting Sunday morning show. I believe all of these changes will make us even better and more distinctive and I know I've got great presenters and programme teams in place looking forward to creating something special for our listeners."

    Question Time is a Mentorn Media production for BBC Scotland.

  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from Dover on Thursday, March 7th.

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme from the coastal town which sees, Conservative Cabinet Minister Ken Clarke MP; Labour Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg MP; UKIP candidate in the Eastleigh by-election Diane James; Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips, and General Secretary of the RMT union Bob Crow, face questions from the audience.

    To apply for a seat in the audience you can register your question at www.bbc.co.uk/questiontime

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