Nat Geo Channel today announced the September premiere of Diana: In Her Own Words.
It’s the latest in a series of network specials timed for the 20th anniversary of Diana’s passing.
Here is NGC’s powerful trailer:
- The program is created in the “no narration /cinematic” style that is bringing the archive back into the middle of room where commissioning decisions are made.
- This is happening after decades in which dramatic reenactments earned most of the buzz for the History genre.
Audio Drives the Story
- Nat Geo swung for the fences by licensing the mostly unheard audio recordings of secret interviews with a miserable Diana in 1991.
- The audio was recorded by journalist Andrew Morton for his controversial 1992 bestseller, Diana: Her True Story.
- Diana shares intimate and often disturbing stories about her childhood, courtship, marriage, eating disorders, parenting, royal family life, and much more.
- Diana’s own spoken words provide the backbone of the documentary.
New Paths for the Archive
- The film was produced by Peabody Award winner Tom Jennings and his LA-based 1895 Films, whose work I have covered in Case Studies in my newsletter, for example here and here.
- Jennings’ compelling use of Morton’s audio recordings bolsters the case for producers to discover precious sound archives, and then to use them to tell and re-tell great stories.
The Diana Wave. Or Wars?
- Networks rely on events like anniversaries to pre-sell documentaries, specials and news segments.
- Competing with NGC’s “Diana: In Her Own Words” are:
- PBS’s “Diana: Her Story” in association with Channel 4 UK, and produced by Kaboom Film & TV.
- Two Smithsonian Channel specials “Diana And The Paparazzi” from TVT Productions, and “Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye” (Finestripe Productions) in which Diana is voiced by Kate Winslet.
- From HBO Documentaries “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life And Legacy” featuring Princes William & Harry, and produced for ITV and HBO by Oxford Film and Television.
- A Dateline interview with her former bodyguard.
- “Diana” from BBC1.
- TLC goes to the dark side with “Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason”.
- Martin Bashir’s “The Last 100 Days of Diana” on ABC.
- The CBS Gayle King special “Princess Diana: Her Life—Her Death—The Truth”.
- The ABC special “The Story of Diana”, featuring an interview with Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer.
- And I’m sure that I missed several more.
My Case Studies on the Archive
You can find them all on the Search button of DocumentaryTelevision.com
- “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week”. Fab 4 Archive Case Study
- “Letters from Baghdad”: A Case Study of an Archive-based Documentary With a $1.2 Mn Budget
- MLK Assassination for Smithsonian Channel: The archive tells the story… cinematically
- Fidel Castro: A PBS / Nat Geo Co-production
- The Challenger Disaster for Nat Geo: The archive delivers emotion
- Kennedy family archive revealed for History
- Every Face Has A Name: A precious Swedish WW2 archive is converted to 4k
- An Aussie/ABBA Love Story: ‘How Local Can Trump Global’
- The LOST Kennedy Home Movies: Revealing a lost family archive
- Plimpton! A Crowd-funding & Kickstarter Campaign
- A Shot To Save The World: Bill Gates hosts the Smithsonian Channel special on Jonas Salk.
- I proudly co-EP’d. (Poster below).