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Channel 4’s 40th birthday to be marked with savage Prince Andrew musical

Royal family wary of dramatisations of Prince Andrew controversy

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The broadcaster has announced the musical, which will star comedian Kieran Hodgson in the role of Andrew, as part of a season of programmes called “Truth or Dare” to celebrate 40 years of Channel 4. The programmes are designed to hark back to Channel 4’s “radical, irreverent and iconoclastic roots”.

Prince Andrew stepped back from public life due to his association with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. He paid a multimillion-pound financial settlement over a claim from Virginia Giuffre, who accused him of sexual assault in a US civil case.

The Duke of York has always denied any wrongdoing and the settlement does not constitute an admission of any liability on his part. The musical about the royal, written by Mr Hodgson, promises to explore the “key events, relationships and controversies of Andrew’s life”.

It has been described as a “satirical send-up of the life and times” of the duke set to a musical score.

This will include the Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis in which he claimed he could not sweat. Ms Maitlis herself and former BBC producer Sam MacAlister are also working on rival shows about the Prince.

Channel 4 has also commissioned a documentary about people who struggle with their penis size for the season of celebratory shows, named Too Large for Love. The show will talk to the “hidden minority of men who have an extra-large penis” and meets individuals whose “extra-large penises are ruining their lives”.

Other new shows include a documentary about a woman who fled the Taliban and is now a successful porn performer, and a show in which Jimmy Carr explores “cancel culture”. There will also be a revival of Ben Elton’s 1980s comedy show Friday Night Live.

Boris Johnson’s government continues to press ahead with plans to sell the channel, which the Guardian claims annoys Conservative MPs with its current affairs coverage. The government argues the channel would thrive in the private sector.

However, Channel 4 claims their status as a publicly owned broadcaster enables it to take risks on programmes that for-profit broadcasters would not do, and recently recorded strong financial results. While Channel 4 is publicly owned, it does not receive any money from the British taxpayer and describes itself as a “self-financing public corporation”.

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Its public ownership status means if it had to borrow money that would be part of the UK’s public sector debt – but it does not appear the government has ever had to do this. Conservative leadership favourite Liz Truss has said she intends to proceed with the sale of Channel 4.

As a result, these latest announcements may be among the last shows to ever be commissioned under Channel 4’s existing model.

Channel 4’s programme boss, Ian Katz, said the new commissions were “a collection of irreverent, thought-provoking and hugely entertaining shows that no other broadcaster would air”.

He added: “If we must age, we plan to do it disgracefully.”

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