EXCLUSIVE: Channel 4 has abruptly canceled its four weddings reboot in a move that has had the industry speculating about the state of the network’s finances amid declining ad revenue and an economic downturn.
Deadline understands that around two dozen people were to start production in four weddings soon, but were informed earlier this week that the show had been cancelled, leaving the production team stunned. The reboot was being produced by MultiStory Media, backed by ITV Studios, and commissioned several weeks ago, with production set to take place over the summer. Instead, freelancers have been given a compensation package for a two-week notice period, we understand.
four weddings aired on Sky for four seasons about a decade ago and was sold to various territories around the world, including TLC in the US. Come have dinner with me-The style show follows four brides or grooms who attend each other’s weddings, while rating them based on the dress, venue, food, and overall experience. One particularly famous episode featured Steps star Faye Tozer’s marriage to Michael Smith.
UK networks are already restarting Big Brother, Survivor, Gladiators and Deal or no deal this year but it seems four weddings will not join them.
The abrupt cut has caused industry speculation about the state of Channel 4’s finances.
Several sources believe that further cancellations could follow as Channel 4 grapples with a rapidly declining advertising market (expected to fall by 10-20% in the coming months) combined with increasing budgets.
While these problems are not unique to Channel 4 – ITV, Channel 5, Warner Bros. Discovery UK and many others are feeling the pinch – sources pointed to specific decisions taken by Channel 4 in recent months, including investing in sports rights and primetime entertainment bets like like the 18 part rise and fall which failed to garner large audiences or critical acclaim.
“We feel they are struggling,” said one producer who has made shows for Channel 4 bluntly. Another said the channel is desperate to show that its finances are in a solid position after the long privatization battle, during which chiefs from Channel 4 repeatedly argued that it did not require a sale to stay on the market.
Remarks from head of content Ian Katz last week that “we’re well stocked with shows for this year and next” and “in many ways the overall economy is healthier than many people expected late last year left some members of the UK production and independent community with a sour taste.
Sources said Katz’s comments were at odds with what they were hearing from Channel 4’s commissioning editors and several shared these frustrations with Deadline spontaneously after Katz’s Wales Screen Summit scene.
“The frustration is coming from above, the freelance bosses, and from below, the freelance community, already facing long spells without work,” said one. Bectu published a survey yesterday which found almost half of its members were out of work, with 75% saying they are struggling to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 is also under pressure on a different front after the audio leak raises new questions about how it handled harassment allegations against the stars of Escape to the castle.
Channel 4 had not responded to Deadline’s requests for comment at press time.
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