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Developing Factual Ideas

Field Guide to: Factual Entertainment Formats

Fact Ent formats tackle lighter factual subjects, such as fashion, property or food, are usually presenter-led and have an emphasis on entertainment.

Every episode has a self-contained narrative, making it easy for the channel to repeat individual episodes whenever they have a hole in the schedule, without having to repeat the whole series.

Within Factual Entertainment, there are a number of subgenres:


A lightly formatted approach where a host with expert knowledge observes contributors making an authentic change in their lives – they would still make those changes if television cameras were not present. The host might offer advice but don’t impose her (it is most often a woman) will on the contributors.

· Property Ladder (Ch4)

· Location, Location, Location (Ch4)

· Dragons’ Den (BBC2)

· Grand Designs (Ch4)


A more heavily formattted approach, in which a host forcibly effects a change in sn unsuspecting or reluctant contributor’s life. There are specific plot points that the audience recognises from week to week.

Formats can become so familiar that some viewers tune in for the introduction of the problem and then watch something else, returning only for the denouement.

· Supernanny (Ch4 / ABC)

· How Clean is Your House? (Ch4 / BBC America)

Explore more factual formats:

Constructed documentary

Presenter-Led Documentary Series

Character-Driven Documentary


Drama Documentary .

Point of View Documentary

Immersive Documentary

Observational Documentary Series



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