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Meet the Commissioner: Stuart Murphy, Sky1

Photo by torrez CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo by torrez CC BY-SA 2.0

Stuart Murphy  is director of programming for Sky1; he recently outlined his current channel strategy and needs (as of August 2009).

Stuart's View on Sky1
  • Wants the channel to have style, humour and warmth.
  • There should be more intelligence and curiosity across the factual programmes.
  • Sky1 programmes need to be good enough to pull people away from Freeview on onto subscription TV. Sky1 needs to be loved in the same way that HBO is loved by its audience: there should be 8-10 programmes that viewers “will crawl over broken glass to watch”.
  • There will be 3D Sky channel by the end of 2010, so is thinking about shows that look good in 3D and HD 3D – they have filmed a Are You Smarter Than a 10 Year Old? special in 3D and an interview series with a famous footballer. Sky Arts has filmed Swan Lake ballet in 3D.
  • There will be fewer entertainment series – approximately four per year.
  • Not looking for one-off or fast turnaround documentaries.
  • Doesn’t want property or cooking.
  • Interested in owning subjects that aren’t covered on other channels. Likes fashion, and taking big name presenters out of their comfort zone. Also interested in making animal programming work on Sky1.
Coming Up
  • Just Dance an X Factor scale entertainment show with a big budget, studio and flashmob elements presented by Davina McCall.
  • Bill Bailey’s Big Bird Watch
  • Football Behind Bars Former professional footballer Ian Wright attempts to set up a football academy in a young offenders institution to help the inmates learn teamwork, communication and anger management skills (premieres 7th September 2009).
Looking For:
  • Big pieces that “will make people cancel a night out in order to stay in and watch the show”.
  • Entire series in 3D – is commissioning these now.
  • Shows that are repeatable.
  • Studio-based entertainment shows (not necessarily repeatable).
  • Big name, mainstream, presenters – doesn’t want anyone dated or ironic.
  • Loves Gethin Jones – would like to do more with him.
  • Looking for 6-8 eps x 60′.
How to pitch 
  • Don’t pitch four shows at once – pitch one at a time.
  • Pitch to Duncan Gray and Clare Hollywood in the first instance.
  • Willing to take limited risks with producers working outside of their normal genre.

Source: MGEITF session  29 August 2009

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