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Love Factually: Watching documentaries is booming, inspiring a nation of aspiring armchair experts


FROM REEL TO REAL - Brits have watched more documentaries this past year than ever before

Research comes as Sky announce five new Original factual programmes

Other Sky original titles coming to Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW includes Chernobyl '86,: Hawking Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein's Shadow and Positive

Nothing has got in the way of Brits and their TV screens this past year, especially factual content, with new research from Sky revealing that two in five Brits admit to watching more documentaries in the last 12 months than ever before. The research was commissioned to celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature.

The boom in factual programming - a genre of non-fiction television programming that documents actual events and real people - is such that approximately eight million people say that they watch at least four factual programmes every single week, with one in five feeling so strongly about the subject they are watching that they question whether they are in the right career.

Real life really does imitate art, as one in ten Brits say that watching factual crime programmes has even inspired them to become real life police detectives. It's no wonder then that crime and justice (28%) tops the list of the UK's favourite documentary programmes, closely followed by history (27%), science and nature (25%).

1 in 6 (19%) also say they've been inspired to become the next Mary Beard or Sir David Attenborough from their viewing of history and nature content.

Many even engage in dual screening, with a third (31%) further researching documentaries or the people in them while watching a programme.

Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual, comments: More than ever factual programming seems to be inspiring water-cooler conversations across the country; even when the water-cooler has to be virtual. Its interesting and really exciting to see that people have engaged even more with documentaries during the strange year we've had, perhaps indicating a desire to escape and experience people, places, stories from both near and far. It was great to learn from this research that the public are excited about the new films and series launching on Sky Documentaries including: Ghislaine Maxwell: Epsteins Shadow, Mother Teresa: For the Love of God and many more.

So, what's behind this surge in popularity? Knowledge-hungry Brits. A third of people (33%) say that they get most of their factual knowledge from watching factual TV programmes, ahead of books (23%) and news (17%). Trust also plays a big role, with twice as many people admitting they trust documentaries for information more so than the government (24% vs 11%).

The influence of factual programming can be felt even further, with more than half of people (53%) in the UK admitting that they have changed their mind about a subject after having watched a factual programme on the topic. One in eight (12%) also say they have become more vocal on human rights or environmental issues as a result of watching documentaries.

Approximately one in seven (14%) say factual programmes have inspired them to be more creative with the food they cook, with the same number being encouraged to explore nature and the great outdoors more often.

Jamie East, TV broadcaster, journalist and critic comments: There's a reason why we can't stop watching hard-hitting documentaries, awe-inspiring nature programmes and gripping history shows, they give us an all-access immersion into a world that would otherwise be extremely difficult to explore. Mentally stimulating, emotive and provocative, factual programmes really speak to us and feed us with knowledge or insight that we're clearly so thirsty for. So, if like me, you're among the eight million people who regularly tune into at least four factual programmes a week, Sky has a wealth of amazing factual content to look forward to.

The data also coincides with the broadcaster announcing five new Sky original documentaries coming to the service later this year. For more information on this please click here.

For further information, please contact:

Sky at Fever

Research commissioned by Sky in May 2021, consisting of 2,006 UK adults.

*The Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW slate includes:

Biographical Documentaries

Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? (3x60 )

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by Minnow Films in association with Sky Studios.

Over three episodes, Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? takes viewers on a remarkable ride through the twists and turns of an improbable life, revealing the extraordinary truth about one of the most recognised yet enigmatic, controversial, and complex figures in contemporary history.

Told through the multiple viewpoints from those who knew her best and drawing on archive and personal letters where we hear from Mother Teresa in her own words, this series tells the astonishing story of a latter-day Saint.

Directed by Benedict Sanderson and Ziyaad Desai, Executive Produced by Sophie Leonard and Sophie Jones and Produced by Dearbhalie Flynn.

Mother Teresa: For the Love of God? is a Sky Original documentary produced by Minnow Films in association with Sky Studios and commissioned by Zai Bennett, Sky's Managing Director of Content and Poppy Dixon, Director of Documentaries and Factual.

The Three Lives of Michael X w/t (1x90 )

Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW. A Sky Original documentary produced by BBC Studios in association with Sky Studios.

TX: October 2021

This is the untold story of the rise and fall of Michael X otherwise known as Michael De Freitas or Michael Abdul Malik - a man once heralded as the UK's answer to Malcolm X who spent the end of his days on death row, a
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