THEY pitched a fairytale then filmed a horror show – but the end product is TV gold.
Executive producers Ben Turner and Leo Pearlman planned a “phoenix from the flames” story when they started shooting a season-long series on their boyhood club Sunderland.
Getty Images8 Chris Coleman was in charge as Sunderland suffered a second-straight relegation last season
Instead, they ended up documenting a further fall from grace, as their beloved Black Cats suffered a second straight relegation.
Turner admits that, as fans, the events that unfolded were “beyond our wildest nightmares”.
Yet with two managers sacked, a change of ownership and demotion to League One, the unexpected script was a documentary-maker’s dream.
SunSport has been granted exclusive access to all eight episodes of Sunderland ‘Til I Die before it comes out on Netflix on Friday week.
Getty Images8 A new documentary on last season shows Coleman have an angry confrontation with a Sunderland fan
Reuters8 Former Sunderland boss Simon Grayson, who was sacked last October, described the club as being 'like the Titanic'
And compared to Manchester City’s airbrushed Amazon series All or Nothing, this is warts and all, as the full shock and gore of Sunderland’s season is laid bare behind the scenes.
Pearlman told SunSport: “The Man City piece is a very polished PR exercise. It looks great and it certainly has some great moments.
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“But I think it’s quite hard to sit down and watch eight hours of that. A lot of it just feels like you are watching what they want you to see. I hope that the Sunderland documentary is quite different from that.
“I hope people see it as a genuine heart-on-the-sleeve look at more than just a football club, but also a city, a fanbase and a part of the world. We pitched it as the idea of a massive club being relegated and following them on this phoenix from the flames season – but obviously it didn’t quite turn out like that!”
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Turner added: “With documentaries, stuff usually beyond your wildest dreams happens. In this one, it was beyond our wildest nightmares.
“What was going on was just so unbelievable, the issue ended up being about how we were going to fit it all in.”
One of the most memorable moments comes at the end of episode seven, after Sunderland’s relegation is confirmed following a humiliating home defeat to Burton.
Chris Coleman is signing the back of a toddler’s shirt when a fan calls him over to tell him, “You haven’t got a f****** clue mate”.