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Developing Factual Ideas

Field Guide to: Entertainment Programmes

Entertainment shows are usually studio-based competition shows with high production values and broad appeal, designed to be glamorous and exciting. These shows play on the networks in prime-time, sometimes with several episodes per week.


Each episode has a contained narrative – perhaps auditions in a particular city – but they are also building blocks in the bigger series narrative arc, which is designed to build to an exciting series finale.


These shows draw the most viewers and are highly sought after, however they are expensive to make and the risk to the channel is high. One successful show tends to spawn several look-alikes, each one feeling like a watered-down version of the original.


· Strictly Come Dancing / Dancing with the Stars (BBC1/ABC),

· Pop Idol / American Idol (ITV1/Fox),

· America’s Got Talent / Britain’s Got Talent (NBC/ITV1),

· American Gladiators / Gladiators (NBC/Sky One),

· Iron Chef America (Food Network).

Explore more factual TV formats:

Constructed documentary

Presenter-Led Documentary Series

Character-Driven Documentary


Drama Documentary .

Point of View Documentary

Immersive Documentary

Observational Documentary Series

Factual Entertainment



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