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 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
Watch clip reel: ITV Factual Programming 2010
- 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.
- 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
Source: Women in Film and Television, Meet the Commissioner event, 5th July, 2010
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