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Exposure (British TV series)

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Exposure is a current affairs strand, broadcast in the United Kingdom on the ITV network. The programme comprises long-form films, investigating and exploring domestic and foreign topics. Episodes are produced both by independent production companies and in-house by ITV Studios. The average budget for a single edition is between £150,000 and £200,000.[1]

GenreNews, current affairs, human interest
Narrated byVarious
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes25
Running time60 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s)Various
Original networkITV
Picture format1080i HDTV
Original release26 September 2011 (2011-09-26) –
Related showsITV News,
The Agenda,
On Assignment,
External links

The series was commissioned by Peter Fincham, ITV's Director of Television, and is a sister show to year-round current affairs strand Tonight. It made its debut on Monday 26 September 2011 – airing at 22.40, directly after ITV News at Ten. Since its launch, the programme has usually occupied this near-peak slot, but has also been shown as late as 23.10. On 3 March 2015, it made its only appearance to date in primetime, airing at 21.00.

The series was broadcast on Mondays in 2011 and Wednesdays in 2012. The 2013 series was billed as an eight-episode run (the longest to date), with five of the editions airing on consecutive Thursdays in their traditional autumn slots and the remaining three being broadcast as standalone episodes between February and July 2014.

In January 2014 it was announced that ITV would no longer air episodes in a series block, instead spreading them throughout the year. Independent producers expressed concern that this would result in fewer editions, but ITV said the changes allowed for a more flexible approach regarding delivery deadlines, which are often complicated by the need for legal clearance before broadcast.[2]

The three standalone editions aired in early-mid 2014 as part of series 3 from 2013 effectively meant that there was no 2014 series of the strand. The programme began its first non-series run in January 2015.

Promotional trailers for individual editions are rare, but the strand itself featured in a promo for ITV's news and current affairs coverage (along with ITV News, Tonight and The Agenda) in late 2012.[3]

Series 1Edit

Episode 1Edit

  • Gaddafi and the IRA (Broadcast 26 September 2011)

Colonel Gadaffi gave the IRA enough weapons to turn a militia into an army. Exposure's first film examines his support for the Republicans and investigates the continuing danger of his legacy. Narrated by Paul McGann.

In this episode, ITV mistakenly presented footage taken from the game ArmA 2 as footage of a 1988 IRA attack. The broadcaster apologised, blaming human error.[4] A spokesperson for ITV commented on the error and said:

"The events featured in Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA were genuine but it would appear that during the editing process the correct clip of the 1988 incident was not selected and other footage was mistakenly included in the film by producers. This was an unfortunate case of human error for which we apologise."[5]

Episode 2Edit

  • The Factory

Focusing on a city in Europe where the pollution is so bad, children struggle to breathe, DNA is damaged, and the vulnerable are forced indoors. This programme investigates the role played by a global multi-national.

Episode 3Edit

  • Heart Hospital

Episode 4Edit

  • The World's Deadliest Arms Race

Episode 5Edit

  • On the Run

Mark Williams-Thomas investigates

Episode 6Edit

  • Heart Hospital

Series 2Edit

Episode 1Edit

  • The British Way of Death (broadcast 26 September 2012)

Undercover investigation which reveals disrespectful behaviour by British funeral directors.[6]

Episode 2Edit

  • The Other Side of Jimmy Savile (broadcast 3 October 2012)

Former police officer Mark Williams-Thomas investigates claims of sexual abuse of underage girls against the charity fundraiser and television presenter Jimmy Savile. Five women (two of whom waived their right to anonymity) all allege that they were assaulted or raped by the entertainer.[7]

The programme was born out of an aborted investigation by the BBC's Newsnight in late 2011, on which Williams-Thomas had worked as a consultant,[8] with reporter Liz MacKean and producer Meirion Jones.[9]

Williams-Thomas took a leading role in the programme, having pitched a proposal to ITV after the BBC dropped the Newsnight investigation; he has praised MacKean and Jones for allowing him to do so.[10] He says he researched the piece as if he were running a police investigation and admits that he was worried that both he and the programme-makers would be heavily criticised if other alleged victims hadn't come forward in the wake of the broadcast.[10]

Producers and ITV News bosses agreed that the edition would be broadcast only if it could have been shown had Savile still been alive. The testimony of those making allegations against Savile was only included if their contact with him could be established by a photograph or other supporting evidence.[1]

The piece came within the usual budget for Exposure, costing around £170,000 for the ten-month investigation. It was broadcast in a later-than-usual timeslot of 23.15, but still attracted 2.5 million viewers (including time-shifted viewing) and a 23% audience share.[1]

The edition won Royal Television Society awards in 2013 in the Current Affairs (Home) and Scoop of the Year categories.[11] It was also given a Peabody Award in 2012.[12] The programme gave ITV News a platform for extensive follow-up reports on the subject, which resulted in ITN winning the News Coverage (Home) category in the RTS awards in 2013.[11]

Although it would become the highest profile edition of the programme to date, this episode was broadcast at the later-than-usual time of 23.10.

Episode 3Edit

  • No bribes please! We're British (broadcast 10 October 2012)

Episode 4Edit

  • Driven From Home (broadcast 17 October 2012)

Residents forced out of an estate blighted by violence

Episode 5Edit

  • Who cares in Britain's care homes? (broadcast 24 October 2012)

Episode 6Edit

  • Banaz: An Honour Killing (broadcast 31 October 2012)

The story of Banaz Mahmod, who was 19 years old when she became the victim of a so-called honour killing ordered by her own family. The programme features footage from a police interview with Banaz, who says she is being followed by members of the Kurdish community from which she originates, having walked out on an abusive forced marriage and pursued a relationship with another man.[13]

The programme is a shorter version of the film Banaz: A Love Story, produced by Fuuse Films created in collaboration with Hardcash Productions for Exposure.[11] Banaz won a Peabody Award and International Emmy Award in 2013,[12] but lost out to another Exposure film, The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, at the Royal Television Society Journalism Awards in 2013.[14]

In view of the programme's content, a warning about "graphic discussion of rape and murder" was aired in the continuity announcement at the start of this edition; unusually, this warning was repeated after the first commercial break before the programme continued.

Episode 7Edit

  • Exposure Update: The Jimmy Savile Investigation (broadcast 21 November 2012)

Mark Williams-Thomas revisits his investigation into the disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile, which dominated the news agenda in the weeks after it was broadcast. Set against a backdrop of the criminal and institutional investigations which had been launched in the intervening seven weeks, this programmes hears testimony from more alleged victims and explores how Savile ingratiated himself with politicians and royalty.[15] It also considers the question of how Savile was able to gain widespread access and power within NHS institutions, in spite of being unqualified for any of the roles which he purportedly fulfilled there.[16]

The programme considers why charges were not brought against Savile after he was interviewed by Surrey Police in 2009; Williams-Thomas declares "for the record" during this segment of the programme that he used to work for the force.

Series 3Edit

Episode 1Edit

  • Predators Abroad (broadcast 2 October 2013)

Mark Williams-Thomas investigates new concerns over British paedophiles in Cambodia.

Episode 2Edit

  • Forced to Marry (broadcast 9 October 2013)

UK imams agree to perform underage marriages.

Episode 3Edit

  • Britain's booming cannabis business (broadcast 16 October 2013)

Conor Woodman investigates the shift in the UK cannabis industry from commercial to home-grown production and reveals how this move towards small domestic units can result in growers encountering the kind of violent criminals whom they had tried to avoid by growing their own supply. The programme explores the extent of cannabis cultivation in the UK and shows how major dealers are generating their profits by operating multiple small-scale sites.[17]

Episode 4Edit

  • Undercover Colleges (broadcast 23 October 2013)

An undercover investigation into the recruiting practices, administration and facilities at the Academy de London and London School of Business and Finance[18]

Episode 5Edit

  • Too Late to Save Your Life (broadcast 30 October 2013)

An investigation into the effectiveness of the UK's cancer screening programme, exploring how some testing regimes have better early diagnosis and detection rates than others.[19]

Episode 6Edit

  • Fashion Factories Undercover (broadcast 6 February 2014)

An investigation uncovers pressures, abuse and violence - as well as locked fire doors and lies about health and safety - behind the closed doors of Dhaka's sweatshops. Presented by Laura Kuenssberg, who had provided extensive coverage in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in April 2013 as ITV News Business Editor. This programme was broadcast shortly after Kuenssberg had departed ITN to rejoin the BBC,[20] but she made appearances on ITV News bulletins throughout the day, trailing the edition. It was the first standalone edition in what had been billed as an eight-episode run when the series returned in autumn 2013.

This edition was produced by Hardcash Productions.

Episode 7Edit

  • Inside the Diplomatic Bag (broadcast 26 April 2014)

Mark Williams-Thomas investigates how privileges for foreign diplomats based in the UK are open to abuse. Issues explored include diplomatic immunity and the protected status of the so-called 'diplomatic bag' for moving items into and out of the country. The programme centres around a sting on a member of the Nigerian High Commission, who claims he can smuggle stolen goods out of the UK, but is later revealed not to have diplomatic status.[21]

Episode 8Edit

  • Don't Take My Child (broadcast 15 July 2014)

Exploring the issue of forced adoption and considering whether the power is being used too readily in the wake of several high-profile child protection scandals.[22] Narrated by ITV News presenter Nina Hossain. Another standalone edition; the last episode in the 2013/14 series.

Occasional episodesEdit

  • Britain's Secret Slaves (broadcast 22 January 2015)

ITV News presenter Julie Etchingham fronts an investigation into forced domestic servitude. The programme includes interviews with those who have experienced modern-day slavery after being brought to the UK. It also considers how changes to visa rules, designed to toughen the immigration system, could be responsible for trapping victims in slave-like conditions[23] and features an undercover sting on a recruitment agency which promises non-existent jobs to foreign domestic workers in return for a fee. The culmination of the sting sees a producer on the programme confront the woman who had been secretly filmed.

The lack of pictures resulting from the need to obscure identities and provide an appropriate visual accompaniment to disturbing cases studies is addressed with the use of still drawings of the situations under discussion.

This edition was produced by Hardcash Productions.

  • The Kill List (broadcast 11 February 2015)

This edition reveals how real-time information from mobile phones was used by coalition forces to target suspected insurgents during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the height of the military action, up to a dozen addresses were raided per night in an effort to capture or kill the individuals concerned.[24]

Some senior military figures involved in the operations defend their use and effectiveness, while other analysts suggest they hampered efforts to negotiate an end to the conflicts - perhaps even improving the gene pool of insurgent fighters, making them more difficult to defeat militarily.[25]

The programme is narrated by former Parachute Regiment commander Sean Rayment and produced by Brook Lapping Productions.

  • Charities Behaving Badly (broadcast 18 February 2015)

An investigation into charities alleged to be promoting extremist views, including white supremacy, anti-semitism and jihad.[26]

ITV News presenter Mark Austin presents and also conducts several interviews, including one in which the Charities Commission admits it does not have the power to close charities for the reasons highlighted by the programme.

  • When Pregnant Women Drink (broadcast 3 March 2015)

This edition explores a condition known as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which can affect the offspring of women who consume alcohol during pregnancy. It focuses on the apparently contradictory advice given to pregnant women in the UK about a 'safe level' of alcohol intake.[27]

The programme features several sufferers of FASD and follows the progress of one child with severe behavioural and developmental problems whose adoptive parents are seeking a definitive diagnosis. They are given access to advanced facial profiling techniques which aid in confirming the condition.[28]

Research is revealed from the United States which claims an analysis of various studies shows alcohol to be a greater risk factor to unborn babies than heroin.[27]

Good Morning Britain and ITV News presenter Ranvir Singh presents and takes on an active reporter role, conducting the majority of interviews, including a combative encounter with a consultant obstetrician.

This edition aired in peaktime at 21.00, the only occasion to date on which the strand has done so. It was produced by October Films.

An investigation into Islamic extremism in the UK, featuring interviews with reformed extremists.[29] The film is made by Deeyah Khan and produced by her production company Fuuse.

  • The Sham Marriage Racket: How to Buy Your Way Into Britain (broadcast 2 July 2015)

An undercover reporter investigates the rise in sham marriages, passport forging, and human trafficking.[30]

  • NHS Out of Hours Undercover (broadcast 22 July 2015)

ITV News presenter Mark Austin looks into the failures of patient care at an NHS Out of Hours service in London, discovering unqualified doctors and understaffing.[31]

  • Making the Grades (broadcast 12 August 2015)

ITV News presenter Julie Etchingham investigates the increasing pressure on schools in the UK to deliver good grades from their students, leading to teachers dishonestly marking exam papers higher than they should be. It is produced by Hardcash Productions.[32]

  • Saudi Arabia Uncovered (broadcast 22 March 2016)

An investigation into the strict Islamist regimes of Saudi Arabia, featuring covertly-shot footage and interviews with a number of activists.[33]

  • Abused and Betrayed - A Life Sentence (broadcast 15 June 2016)

An investigation into the allegations that Clement Freud, a former Member of Parliament for North East Cambridgeshire, had abused two girls in the 1940s and 1970s. Presented by ITV News presenter Julie Etchingham.[34]

A documentary about the lives and experiences of ex-Muslims: people who have left Islam to become atheists, and who often face discrimination, harassment, ostracism and violence for leaving Islam, both in the UK and abroad. The film is made by Deeyah Khan and produced by her production company Fuuse.[35]

  • Breaking the Silence: Britain's Adoption Scandal (broadcast 9 November 2016)

Documentary revealing the stories of thousands of women who were pressured to give up their children for adoption following World War II.[36]

  • Undercover: Life and Death in a Homeless Hostel (broadcast 10 November 2016)

An undercover investigation into hostels in the UK and the way that homeless and vulnerable people are treated there.[37]

  • Hillsborough: Smears, Survivors & the Search for Truth (broadcast 12 December 2016)

A documentary uncovering previously unreported specific evidence that raises questions over witness statements given in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster. It explores the possibility of an alleged cover-up by the police. Presented by Peter Marshall.[38]

  • Undercover: Inside Britain's New Far Right (broadcast 9 November 2017)

An undercover investigation into far-right extremist groups in Britain, including scrutiny of the UK Independence Party and questions about the extreme views of a contender to become their leader, Anne Marie Waters.[39]

Deeyah Khan travels to America to meet with some of the most prominent neo-Nazis and white supremacist leaders in the US today to seek to understand the personal and political reasons behind the apparent resurgence of extremism in the US.[40]

  • Who Cares? Children's Homes Undercover (broadcast 13 December 2017)

A covertly filmed investigation into children's homes, showing evidence of understaffing and lack of training.[41]

  • Prisons Uncovered: Out of Control? (broadcast 11 June 2018)

An investigation into the state of prisons in the UK, showcasing an extensive look into a riot that happened in December 2016 at HM Prison Birmingham, which became Britain's worst prison riot in 25 years.[42]

  • The Hunt for the Birmingham Bombers (broadcast 1 October 2018)

An investigation into the Birmingham pub bombings that occurred in 1974, revealing the identities of the prime suspects involved and confronting one of them, Michael Patrick Reilly, about their possible involvement in the bombings. Presented by John Ware.[43]

  • Iran Unveiled: Taking on the Ayatollahs (broadcast 29 October 2018)

A documentary following the stories of four women who are challenging those who have ruled Iran for 40 years and defying the ayatollahs. Inspiration for the film came when a woman removed her headscarf on one of the busiest streets in Tehran, the capital of Iran.[44]

  • Brexit Online Uncovered (broadcast 4 March 2019)

An investigative documentary into the rise of trolls and online abuse directed towards Members of Parliament on social media following the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. It features interviews with several MPs, including Conservative MP Nicky Morgan and independent MP Anna Soubry, both of whom have been targeted because of their views towards having a "soft" Brexit or remaining in the European Union.[45]


  1. ^ a b c Brown, Maggie (26 February 2013). "ITV's Jimmy Savile sex scandal documentary made for just £170,000". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  2. ^ Kanter, Jake. "ITV scraps Exposure block in favour of single films". Broadcast. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  3. ^ "ITV News: Life From Every Angle". ITV (via YouTube). 7 November 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  4. ^ "ITV documentary in IRA computer game blunder". BBC News. 27 September 2011.
  5. ^ Crecente, Brian (27 September 2011). "Idiot Documentarians Reveal "Secret IRA Terrorism Footage". It's a Video Game from 2009.[Update 2]". Kotaku.
  6. ^ "ITV investigation uncovers disrespect, exploitation and racism in funeral business". ITV News. 26 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Sir Jimmy Savile accused of sexually abusing young girls". ITV. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  8. ^ Ponsford, Dominic (22 February 2013). "Meirion Jones: The BBC knew Jimmy Savile was a paedophile and they ran the Christmas tributes". Press Gazette. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Revealed: Newsnight emails that accuse BBC of Jimmy Savile cover-up". The Independent. 20 October 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  10. ^ a b Halliday, Josh (24 February 2013). "Mark Williams-Thomas: I ran the Savile film like a criminal investigation". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "RTS ANNOUNCES SHORTLIST FOR TELEVISION JOURNALISM AWARDS 2011/2012". Royal Television Society. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  12. ^ a b 72nd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2013.
  13. ^ "Exposure: Honour killing victim predicts death in video". ITV. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  14. ^ "RTS Announces Winners For Television Journalism Awards 2011/2012". Royal Television Society. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  15. ^ "ITV1 Exposure: Savile's rise among the great and good". ITV. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Currie: Savile 'suggested himself' for Broadmoor role". ITV. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  17. ^ "ITV Exposure finds torture and coercion in Britain's home-grown cannabis industry". ITV. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  18. ^ "Undercover Colleges". ITV Exposure. 23 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Exposure: Too late to save your life". ITV. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  20. ^ Plunkett, John (12 November 2013). "BBC Newsnight recruits ITV's Laura Kuenssberg". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  21. ^ Emma Slater, Lesley Gardiner (26 April 2014). "Caught on camera: Embassy worker who says he can smuggle stolen goods out of the UK in diplomatic bags". Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Senior judge says 'highly defensive' atmosphere means social workers under increased pressure to intervene in families". ITV. 13 July 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  23. ^ Etchingham, Julie (19 January 2015). "Exposure: The truth about Britain's secret slaves". ITV. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Exposure: The Kill List". Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  25. ^ "Exposure: The Special Forces 'kill list' 'tracked using mobiles'". ITV. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  26. ^ "Exposure: Hatred and extremist views in charities". ITV. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  27. ^ a b "Exposure: Health experts call on Government to change advice on drinking while pregnant". ITV. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  28. ^ "When Pregnant Women Drink: The families living with FASD". ITV. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  29. ^ "JIHAD: a story of the others". Deeyah Khan. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  30. ^ "Exposure: The sham marriage racket - how to buy your way into Britain". ITV News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  31. ^ "Medicine shortages, manipulated targets and patients doing nurses' jobs: ITV's Exposure at an NHS Out of Hours clinic". ITV News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Exposure: Making the Grades Episode 1". Press Centre. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  33. ^ "Saudi Arabia Uncovered - Exposure Episode 1". Press Centre. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  34. ^ "ITV investigation: Politician Sir Clement Freud accused of child sexual abuse". ITV News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  35. ^ Jonathan Wright (13 October 2016). "Thursday's best TV: The Fall, Paranoid, The Night Of". Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  36. ^ "Britain's Adoption Scandal: Breaking The Silence Episode 1". Press Centre. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  37. ^ "Undercover: Life & Death In A Homeless Hostel Episode 1". Press Centre. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  38. ^ "Hillsborough: Smears, Survivors & the Search for Truth". Press Centre. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  39. ^ "Undercover Inside Britain's New Far Right". HOPE not hate. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  40. ^ "White Right: Meeting The Enemy - Exposure". 21 November 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  41. ^ Tickle, Louise (13 December 2017). "ITV film reveals serious failings at UK children's homes". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  42. ^ "Prisons Uncovered: Out of Control? Episode 1". Press Centre. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  43. ^ "ITV's Exposure to name prime suspects in Birmingham pub bombings". ITV News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  44. ^ "Iran Unveiled: Taking On The Ayatollahs Episode 1". Press Centre. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  45. ^ "ITV investigation reveals extent of online abuse and death threats aimed at MPs in 'Exposure: Brexit Online Uncovered'". ITV News. Retrieved 5 March 2019.

External linksEdit