Preview: First Cut: Watch Me Disappear, Channel 4

An elegy for those who die unmourned
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The Independent Culture

First, it was Saving Britney Spears, a look at those who capitalised on the singer's meltdown. Next, it's Watch Me Disappear, about the 2,500 people who are buried unclaimed each year.

Twenty 30-minute documentaries make up the First Cut strand (many will air on Fridays on Channel 4, and all will be on More 4). Each has been chosen from 1,000 or so entries by up-and-coming documentary film directors, pitched to commissioning editor Sarah Mulvey earlier in the year.

The strand is on our screens this month to coincide with Generation Next, a month-long celebration of new comedy, drama, writing, directing and journalism from creators all looking for their big break.

"The industry is crying out for opportunities like this," Mulvey says. "It's important to encourage new talent to take risks. In many cases, First Cut gives directors the chance to make the film they came into television to make, as well as a leg up to the next stage."

Watch Me Disappear, made by Lucy Cohen, 27, is a haunting piece on the unattended funerals held in Britain every year. With the help of a coroner and personal records, she pieced together the lives of several people who'd died alone. "I started out wondering if it's possible to find someone whom no one knows, especially in urban centres and in this age of socialising and networking. My initial thought was that it would be old people who perhaps outlived their friends, but it's young people as well," Cohen says.

Two of last year's First Cut documentaries, Being Maxine Carr and Health Food Junkies, garnered audiences of over a million.

Speaking about Generation Next, Julian Bellamy, head of Channel 4, says: "We thought we'd make more impact if we pulled all the different talents together under one banner to make a big statement. Every day in August, someone will be getting their big break."

' Watch Me Disappear' Friday at 7.30pm, Channel 4