Louis Theroux will return to BBC television in November with a new three-part documentary series focusing on the themes of Birth, Love and Death.
Louis Theroux, the British TV journalist well known for immersing himself in American subcultures but perhaps best remembered by film fans for My Scientology Movie and his now infamous documentary about disgraced former TV personality Jimmy Savile, will return to the small screen this autumn with a new three-part series shot in America on the themes of Birth, Love, and Death.
Theroux, announcing the new series on social media, said: “For the past year I have been working on a three-part series about the novel, sometimes strange, and always very human ways in which the most intimate aspects of life are increasingly being handled in America. Now the BBC has just announced the it is going out in November of this year, starting Nov 4, under the title Altered States.”
Inspired by how changing social attitudes and radical new laws have transformed how Americans can experience some of life’s most intimate moments, the three-part series will look at such things as how we raise our children and how we love in the 21st Century.
“I have always been interested in how people conduct the most intimate aspects of their lives. For this series we looked at the new ways Americans are approaching some of humanity’s oldest dilemmas: pregnant mums who feel unequipped to keep their babies and so pick new parents for them; the world of polyamory aka ‘ethical non-monogamy’; and people with debilitating conditions who opt to hasten their own deaths,” says Theroux.
“All of these stories have something a touch utopian about them, involving a kind of idealism and forward thinking that brings new opportunities but also new risks. I have been given extraordinary levels of access to courageous people and families across the United States, many of them enduring unbelievable levels of stress and anguish, and it was a privilege to be allowed into their lives in this most personal way.”
The BBC veteran, whose work has titillated, fascinated, angered, amused and shocked us over the years, continues to make some of the BBC’s best documentary films. In the last few years he has covered the Milwaukee police investigating rising gun crime and social unrest in the age of Black Lives Matter.
His work has sobered somewhat from his early career making “Weird Weekends” when he was infamously put through hell by professional wrestlers after unwittingly ridiculing the sport as “fake”. He also hung out with various niche subcultures from amateur porn stars, swingers and UFO enthusiasts to neo-nazis and survivalists.
Later, he developed a new series called “When Louis Met…” in which he’d spend time in the presence (often in their homes) of notable celebrities such as magician Paul Daniels and his assistant/wife Debbie McGee, former boxer Chris Eubank and politician Anne Widdecombe.
This led to Theroux gaining mainstream notoriety when he caught lighting in the bottle during a film he was making with former Conservative politician Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine. During his time with them, news broke of the couple’s alleged sexual misconduct, which refocused the documentary on the fallout.
He has also profiled key figures in the Westboro Baptish Church, various racist supremacist groups and post-apartheid South Africa amongst other controversial figures.
Ahead of his latest three-part series, Patrick Holland, Channel Controller, BBC Two, said: “Louis is a unique talent and it is always a very special moment when a new series lands. Altered States is a hugely challenging, disturbing and illuminating trilogy, taking us into some extremes of experience, all guided by Louis’ exceptional empathy and humanity.”
Adds Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, said Theroux isn’t afraid to tackle subjects others documentary makers would shy away from. “Louis’ documentaries are some of the most fascinating, contemplative and honest on television,2 she added.
Louis Theroux’s Altered States will be on BBC Two, starting November 4.