Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

On BBC4: ‘The Polio Story: The Vaccine That Changed The World’ Triples Average Audience for its Slot

Just in: The Polio Story earned ‘three times the average audience for its slot.’

Tonight on BBC Four: ‘The Polio Story: The Vaccine That Changed The World’

This is possibly one of the most inspirational stories of the 20th century.

Polio was one of every parent’s nightmare.


It was 1952, and polio gripped the world in fear.

There was no known cause, no cure and no help in sight for parents desperate to protect their children.

Across the ocean, eager to beat the potentially fatal condition, polio-afflicted President Roosevelt inspired the American public to send in their dimes to fund research.

This ‘March of Dimes’ approach, rather surprisingly, worked. Jonas Salk, just 33, took it on, and won.

But it was what Salk did with the vaccine which takes the story to a different level. He gave it away.

BBC Four, 8.15pm, Sunday 15th March

Thanks to Tim Sparke

Congrats to our friend and distributor Tim Sparke:

  • Despite fighting acute illness, Tim negotiated the sale of our film to BBC Four.
  • He earlier licensed the documentary to the Smithsonian Channel.
  • Tim co-EP’d the BBC Four version, earning a special acknowledgement from the BBC for his amazing career as a positive force in the documentary niche.

BBC Four

  • Thanks also to the BBC’s Carol Sennett for her important work acquiring the best in documentaries.
  • Four is also the home of Storyville, a world-leader among documentary strands, curated by Nick Fraser.

Bill Gates + More

  • Steeltown Entertainment produced the original version of The Polio Story.
  • Titled as A Shot to Save the World, it is being broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel in the US and Canada.
  • Bill Gates appears in and supported our film.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a deeply committed funder of polio eradication efforts.

Our Coverage: How It Happened + Takeaways

Read our coverage of the unlikely journey of A Shot from Pittsburgh to the world’s most prestigious documentary platforms.



This Week:

EDN Docs in Thessaloniki Master Class
The North American Documentary Broadcast Market: An overview by Peter Hamilton
Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 16:00 – 18:00, Pavlos Zannas Theater.

Coming: Details Soon

  • MIPDoc, Saturday April 11 – Sunday April 12
  • Atlanta MasterClass, with Tomorrow Pictures, Saturday May 16
  • Center for Communications, New York: ‘In Conversation With…’ / MasterClass
  • ATFT / South African Indies, Workshops in Jo’burg, Durban + Cape Town
  • Sunnyside of the Doc, La Rochelle, June 22-25