03 March 2022

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Channel 5


Channel 5 today announces it has greenlit a brand new 1x90 documentary, Slab City: The Real Nomadland with Ben Fogle (wt), produced by Renegade Productions and Motion Content Group and ordered by Factual Entertainment Commissioning Editor Greg Barnett. The first ever presenter-led documentary filmed in Slab City, follows the adventurer as he explores the off-grid, alternative lifestyle community who live in the ‘last free place in America’. 

 Channel 5 cameras were granted special access inside the free-spirited community, where no one has an official address, there is no mains water, electricity, sewer, or rubbish collection. Its residents live in tents, trailers, lean-tos and broken-down school buses and vans. 

 The documentary shines a light on an alternative America in The Sonora desert, California – a barren waste land, home to the extraordinary freedom-seeking community who survive in summer temperatures of over 50 degrees. Slab City took its name from concrete slabs that remained after the World War II Marine Corps Camp Dunlap training ground was torn down. It is an enigma, with a lawless reputation which precedes it. Part artists’ colony, part homeless city, this one-square-mile patch of desert is divided into unique neighbourhoods with different characteristics - from Pirate Camp to East Jesus Art collective and the LGBTQIA Flamingo Camp. These areas will be explored in depth in the 1 x 90 doc, with unique access to the residents granted. 

 Ben Fogle meets with the complex, extraordinary, charming, but edgy, community full of people for whom Slab City is either a last option, a place to truly be themselves or somewhere where those who felt they were nothing in the ‘outside world’ have made something of themselves here. However, it is far from a utopia as Ben discovers Slab City’s dark side. Last year, 17 people died from heat exposure, drug overdoses and there was a murder. In a population of just a few hundred, the odds of success don’t seem great. 

 Commissioning Editor at Channel 5, Greg Barnett said: “I’m thrilled that we’ve secured the first ever presenter-led access piece to such an intriguing and fascinating place. Ben is a great interrogator and the perfect person to help us explore the community, lifestyles and environment that exist within Slab City. He’s had huge success with New Lives in the Wild. Slab City is the definitive version of it - and on an epic scale. 

 Natalie Wilkinson (Executive Producer & Director) at Renegade Pictures said: “It was an extraordinary experience filming in Slab City, it felt like we’d found a place where all the different types of ‘wild people’ we have filmed over the past decade with Ben Fogle have converged together. It gave us an opportunity to deeper explore fascinating off-grid lifestyle choices, motivations and that inimitable wild spirit”. 


 For further enquiries please contact: 

Ester Palenikova | ester.palenikova@vimnmix.com 

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