BBC One announces Frank Skinner documentary on his hero Muhammad Ali

On the 3 June 2016, millions of fans around the world mourned the passing of the boxing icon Muhammad Ali. In a touching, insightful and celebratory one-off authored documentary special, Frank Skinner, one of Britain’s best-loved comedians, explores the incredible life of his hero, the world’s greatest boxing champion. 

To discover more about his idol, Frank travels around the UK and US, visiting key locations and people in Ali’s life. In Ali’s hometown of Louisville Kentucky he meets the next-door neighbour who witnessed the teenage boxer’s single-minded dedication to his craft. He meets Ali’s younger brother Rahaman, a key figure in the boxer’s entourage and his closest confidante. He meets Ali’s wife Khalilah, who was alongside Ali in the turbulent years when he was banned from boxing for refusing to fight in Vietnam, and saw him become an icon of the civil rights movement.

Frank will delve into some of the lesser known aspects of Ali’s life: from meeting the bare-knuckle boxer from an Oxfordshire council estate who became one of Ali’s dearest friends, to the actor who played alongside Ali in a little known musical on Broadway.

Frank pays a visit to Ali’s training compound in Deer Lake Pennsylvania, where Ali and his team prepared for one of his most famous fights of all time, the Rumble In The Jungle. From Ali’s Business Manager, Gene Kilroy, Frank learns how Ali’s unshakeable self-confidence and ability to manipulate the crowd were powerful weapons against his opponent, George Foreman. He finds out what it was like behind the scenes in the Ali camp by talking to Ali’s old sparring partner and friend Larry Holmes, who later faced him in the ring.

This documentary special will be more than a profile piece on the greatest sporting hero of the twentieth century, it’s also a very personal journey filled with Frank’s own expertise and insight.

Frank Skinner says: “I loved Ali since I was a child. I loved the warrior, the entertainer, the craziness that surrounded him. I met him, as a trembling fanboy, a few times in the 90s, but I only had the courage to ask for an autograph and a couple of photos. This project gave me the chance to question his family, friends and his boxing inner-circle and explore the truth about the man.”

Sarah Clay, Commissioning Editor, BBC Entertainment says: “The thing that marks this film apart from others about Ali is Frank’s unique perspective. He brings humour and passion to this beautifully authored piece, giving insight not only into Ali’s life but also his own.”

Jo Sargent, Executive Producer, King Bert says: “From the perspective of a genuine and authentic fan, Frank's documentary is both insightful and entertaining. King Bert is proud to have made this programme for BBC One and viewers are in for a real treat.”

From King Bert Productions, the special will be produced and directed by Mary Crisp (My Hero: Miranda Hart On Eric Morecambe, Who Do You Think You Are?) and executive produced by Jo Sargent (French And Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous, Miranda).

The one-off 60-minute film, Frank Skinner on Muhammad Ali will be shown on BBC One, the TX date will be confirmed in due course.

May 4, 2017 4:26am ET by BBC One  

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