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Developing Factual Ideas

Field Guide to: Constructed Documentary

A one-off programme that aims to teach the audience about a subject in as objective manner as possible.

The filmmaker strives to be invisible. The story is planned out in advance and is told through interviews with academics or eyewitnesses who impart their expert knowledge or personal insights. There is usually a voice-over that leads the audience through the narrative.

Archive film or still shots of contemporary newspapers, photographs or letters are inter-cut with the interviews and provide physical proof of the veracity of the story. Shots of landscapes or architectural details fill any gaps.

This kind of documentary is intended to inform and educate the audience, and will generally attract older, male viewers. It is most often used for science and history programming.

Variations include:

Explore more factual TV formats:

Presenter-Led Documentary Series

Character-Driven Documentary


Drama Documentary .

Point of View Documentary

Immersive Documentary

Observational Documentary Series

Factual Entertainment



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