Formats & Music

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The Formats department – Dom Bird

The Formats department commissions an incredibly diverse range of non-scripted genres from constructed reality and popular documentaries to unscripted comedy and studio shows. We particularly focus on young skewing programmes and we commission all of the most successful non-scripted hits on E4.

Increasingly, we intend to commission content for the ‘whole life’ of a series – which includes social, catch up and All4 alongside traditional linear viewing. This is particularly relevant for E4 where we are already seeing our audiences consume their content in new ways and it is crucial that we reflect this at both development and commissioning stages.

Channel 4

For Channel 4 we are looking for big 9pm series which find innovative ways to pose provocative questions – our tent-pole factual thriller series Hunted and BAFTA nominated Celebrity Hunted asks ‘could you disappear in 21st century Britain?’ Hunted continues to be a big hit and is a great example of the kind of ambition we have in this area. We actively want to make things that others have dismissed because they are either considered too difficult to make or just too tricky to navigate.

We are also looking for programmes that demand attention and explore areas that others wouldn’t dare tread. We are happy to create outrage as long as we can clearly justify our actions and outcomes. We want to approach non-scripted in a modern and creative way and we're excited by new filming techniques, technologies, cross-genres and new ways to tell a narrative.

We’re also looking for returnable, mischievous series at 10pm on Channel 4. Across C4, Series like First Dates and Naked Attraction are extremely popular with audiences, but can also be delivered in volume. The Formats department is actively looking for other closed ep series ideas that have potential to land at 10pm and come back in volume.

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Elsewhere on C4, we are looking for bright, original, accessible series. We don’t do ‘homework’ programming in the Formats department and we are always keen to entertain while serving the C4 remit. Lego Masters was a huge hit for younger viewers at 8pm and is returning in higher volume and with a celebrity Christmas special and is a great example of uplifting, joyful programming reaching a family audience. Our new series Famous & Fighting Crime is in production and it will be an accessible but incredibly thought provoking series looking at the challenges faced by the modern police force through a challenging, entertaining and occasionally humorous prism.


E4

The Formats department also commissions the non-scripted output for E4, which is our young skewing entertainment channel.

E4 won Digital Channel of the Year in 2015 & 2016, and 2017 was the second most successful year for share in the channel’s history.

As a result, spend in 2019 is set to increase, and therefore we are looking for brilliant new non-scripted ideas. There are real opportunities here and we would welcome more great ideas from suppliers.

Comedy and humour is at the heart of E4 and we are unashamedly looking to entertain young audiences. We are looking for funny, entertaining and aspirational series. We aren’t looking to humiliate people – but we do want to have brilliant humour, jeopardy and emotion at the heart of our content.

We have attracted big audiences recently with constructed precincts. Tattoo Fixers and Tattoo Fixers on Holiday have been stand-out hits and continue to sit in the heart of the schedule. Celebs Go Dating, our dating agency for celebrities has been a massive show for us played as a strip, up more than 200% on slot. It will return later this year.

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We are particularly looking at 3 key shapes for 9pm and 10pm on E4.

We would love to find more closed ep series that are returnable and highly repeatable. Tattoo Fixers and Don’t Tell the Bride are great examples, and we are looking for more series that can be played in high volume in peak. The Sex Testers has just been greenlit and is a good example of something that will sit in this space.

We want to resist more versions of shows that we already have, and therefore we are encouraging suppliers to think about ideas that don’t share any DNA with areas/precincts that we are already in and that feel distinctively different.

We have had real success with stripped peak time series in the form of Celebs Go Dating and we are looking for more strips across E4, All4 and social, and we are keen to experiment with different offerings. Strips could be nightly, but we would also look at 2 or 3 times weekly if that felt like a better fit for a given idea. Big ideas with creative and unusual execution or unusual approaches are particularly welcome.

We also are looking a narrative arc series that can play weekly over 6 – 8 weeks. This is likely to be a contributor-led series but again, we are open to unusual and different ways of approaching this.

At 7.30pm we have had great success with Coach Trip and All Star Driving School. We continue to be keen to try things at 7.30 but would encourage different funding models, such as AFP, to allow us to continue to punch above our weight in this area.

Finally, in the incredibly fast moving world of 16-34s, we are also particularly interested in areas that have become an integral part of our young audiences lives but may not have been reflected back at them yet on television. What are the step-changes in the way young people are living their lives today, and how do we format them into our next big hits?

Music

9pm and 10pm feature documentaries. We've had success with archive pieces like The 80s: Ten Years that Changed Britain, The 90s: Ten Years that Changed the World and Rewind the Christmas Hits. Big stories told in an entertaining but intelligent way. Usually singles but please do let us know formatted ways of creating series. We've also recently began exploring single artist profiles in feature doc form. The Rolling Stones: Ole, Ole, Ole, and forthcoming Bruce Springsteen In His Own Words and Freedom: George Michael all have the common theme of fantastic access to iconic artists along with unseen archive, filmed with cinematic style.

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Music on 4 - post peak music. This is where we explore music subcultures, opting to go for either super contemporary credible genres like the award winning show Four to the Floor, which reports on brand new UK artists, or we like to look back with a sprinkling of nostalgia - The Great Songwriters or Abbey Road Classics cast an eye on the best writers and performers from the history of popular music. Shows in the Music on 4 slot usually come with partnership models to help scale the brand both financially and in a marketing sense. How do we reach out beyond linear to root C4 even closer to music?

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