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Meet the Commissioner: Diana Howie, Commissioning Editor, ITV Daytime and Factual

Diana Howie, Commissioner Daytime and Factual, ITV recently outlined her commissioning needs to attendees of an event run by Women in Film and Television.

Diana's overview:
Photo by Torres CC BY 2.0

Photo by Torres CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Diana is one of three commissioners reporting to Alison Sharman. She commissions factual for primetime and factual and entertainment for daytime.
  • She’s currently looking after 28 shows in production as well as commissioning new ideas.
  • She receives around 10 submissions per day – more around commissioning rounds.
  • She tries to respond promptly to emailed ideas – she can tell within a paragraph whether the idea is right for her or not.
  • If an idea is urgent she can get it approved and signed off in days, but commissioning is usually done during formal commissioning rounds several times a year.
  • Diana has a weekly commissioning meeting with the team to discuss their favourite submissions; the best are sent to Peter Fincham, director of television, every ten weeks or so for approval.
  • Will match individual producers/small indies with bigger indies to help them produce their idea if needed
Current programmes: 
    • The Chase – quiz show at 5pm
    • The Alan Titchmarsh Show and upcoming spin off
    • Michael Ball chatshow tx’ing mid-August to September 2010
    • 7.30pm is is the ‘Outdoors’ slot – host to The Lakes and The Dales (tx late 2010). This is a celebrity-free zone.

Watch clip reel: ITV Factual Programming 2010

Looking For:
  • Programmes in early evening that appeal to an older audience with ‘old-fashioned’ tastes who are looking for an alternative to the younger-skewing EastEnders on BBC1.
  • ‘Real people’ formats for peak – nothing too constructed or formatted. Need to be “celebratory, with warm dramatic moments at their heart”.
  • 9pm – returning factual format. Authored travelogues currently play successfully in this slot, but moving towards more programmes about real people (as above). Programmes in this slot need to be very well-made and structured.
  • Softly formatted series eg. upcoming Long Lost Family presented by Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall in which they try to reunite estranged families.
  • Access documentaries – Holloway and Wormwood Scrubs recently successful, but no need for more prison access pieces. Institutional access docs need to be big and broad, with a real reason for doing them eg. The Savoy Hotel was filmed because the hotel was undergoing a major refurbishment.
  • Lesser known celebrities grouped together in a show (where they couldn’t hold a show on their own)
  • Wishlist for A-list stars featuring in authentic passion pieces:
    • Victoria Wood
    • Stephen Fry
    • Julie Walters
    • Helen Mirren
    • Judi Dench
  • Shows with 2-3 episodes or returnable series.
  • Co-production funded programmes.

£30K for 60′ (only commissions 60’s) in daytime – commissions in volume

£50K for 60′ at 5pm

£15K for 30′ at 7.30pm – looking for co-productions in this slot. Difficult to align editorial needs of channel with needs of a brand in AFP submissions.

£100 – 300K in primetime

How to Pitch 
  • Send a couple of paragraphs by email with a guide price and suggested talent and an indication if any mentioned talent has been approached.
  • If pitching an idea that involves AFP or sponsorship talk to the channel first before doing any firm deals – they have to clear any deals with the commercial team in order to prevent clashes with other brands in certain slots.
  • Don’t:
    • pitch shows that have already transmitted on other channels
    • suggest anything too leftfield – they need mainstream subjects
    • forget to watch ITV before pitching your idea –  know which slot it would suit and how it fits into the overall programming/talent mix at ITV

SourceWomen in Film and Television, Meet the Commissioner event, 5th July, 2010

Join Women in Film and Television for a chance to meet the commissioners in person.



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