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Developing Factual Ideas

Ten Habits to Generate New Ideas

To be successful at generating commissionable new TV programme ideas you need to do two things:

  • ·Understand what channels are looking for
  • ·Actively look for new ideas.

The best ideas for factual TV programmes come from a flash of insight about human behaviour, or from talking to an expert about new developments in their field, or from talking to someone with an interesting story. This means you must step away from your desk – it is hard to have original ideas whilst staring at a blank sheet of paper. Make a point of seeking out new experiences and– like all good (and bad) habits – spotting ideas will soon become second nature.

Commit to at least one of the following activities every day. Mix and match them to suit your interests, commissioning needs and mood and you will soon find your list of potential programme ideas growing.

Keep a notebook with you to capture your ideas. Build on them as new thoughts or angles occur to you – let your subconscious do some of the hard work before you sit down to develop the idea further.

1.Read industry magazines

2.Subscribe to trend spotters’ newsletters

3.Read a broad range of newspapers and general magazines

4.Surf with intent

5.Watch television

6.Get out more


8.Talk to your colleagues

9.Listen to your commissioning editor

10.Delve into the archives and put a new twist on an old subject.


Read more development tips in Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas from Concept to Pitch


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