Entertainment and Events: 2021
In 2021 we’re on the hunt for big Entertainment Formats to help grow some of our existing talent and launch new talent. We want to hear ideas with scale, ambition and humour that can bring a big, broad audience to the channel.
Let’s explore the areas we are focussing on:
Smart Quiz Piloting
This Autumn we’re funding a series of mini pilots - non-TX testers designed to be slicker than an office run-through but cheaper and simpler than a traditional full pilot.
We’ve hired regional studio space directly, along with all the technical elements and studio crew - all we need are your ideas.
What Do We Want?
We’re looking for prime time quiz formats with a top line that feels big, scary and subversive without having to rely on huge-value prizes to drive the jeopardy. Your ideas should generate prime time drama, tension and humour in spades.
The shows will probably have members of the public at their heart and please think laterally about the talent running these formats: look beyond traditional entertainment faces for people who can inform a different tone. It could be live, but shows that can be filmed in advance and in blocks are obviously financially advantageous.
We’re aiming to record these later this year, the deadline for submissions is Friday 31st July with successful ideas being shortlisted thereafter.
Short Form Digital Pilots
We want to use our digital development pot more effectively by piloting a set of short form digital formats. These pieces should be self-contained while also offering a neat way of testing out new formats. They’ll be produced to sit online and socially, but with a clear eye on how they could expand to make the leap to linear.
What do we want?
- Short-form, shareable ideas with clear and definitive format beats.
- A simple top line with a real-world premise. We are open to a fresh take on dating or looking at new casts or tribes
- They can be led by new talent or contributors but the casting, setting and subject matter must feel authentic
- We want them to be original and experimental – but please don’t make them cruel; audiences really respond to warmth.
- They should be young skewing, aimed at a core demo of 18-24.
- Each piece should be able to serve a range of platforms; Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook each have slightly different lengths and formats – we can help guide you here.
- The format must feel scalable and developed with linear in mind; think about how this would work from the outset.
Comedy Entertainment remains at the heart of what we do. The addition of Taskmaster this year has whetted our appetite for more and we’re focusing on a number of areas.
Fridays at 10pm
Friday nights attract Channel 4’s biggest and broadest audiences and 10pm benefits from a huge Gogglebox inheritance; all we have to do is keep them. We want broad, young skewing shows with humour at their heart. This is key; any ideas we commission will have comedy baked into their DNA.
We are interested in light, funny formats with a clear top line to keep viewers engaged. The right format can offer a fresh way of using existing talent and a creative leg-up to newer voices.
Talent is key in setting tone and expectation. Your idea could be led by a singular authored voice, or an ensemble cast of comedians or friends. We’re particularly keen to build our female talent (see below for more detail).
It doesn’t have to be studio based - what real-world settings could give a show authenticity and distinctiveness? And think about the future of studio shows; how could we reinvent them without a traditional audience, so they feel meant (rather than just a bit quieter)?
We are also interested in revisiting music as an area, but only if comedy is central to the proposition. We don’t want a straight music show.
We want a broad, comedic, female-led entertainment show with funny and relatable women are at the helm; and of course - like all our shows it needs to have a clear and distinct top line. Don’t try too hard; often we get ideas where the starting point is a show ‘for women, about women and presented by women’. It doesn’t need to wear that badge so openly. It’s particularly worth thinking about satire, but in a broad cultural sense rather than purely political.
Narrative entertainment is a real priority for us in 2021. Humour is still key, but characters, storytelling and setting are the fundamental drivers, either in a precinct we’ve created or in a pre-existing real-world space. Here’s what we’re after:
Reality in a Different Register
Channel 4 has always been an innovator in reality: home to the most daring, funny and genre defining shows. From the original Big Brother via bonkers social experiments like Shattered to the more recent octane-fuelled adventure of The Island or Hunted right up to the high concept of The Circle.
Now, in 2021 we want you to apply our key entertainment values of scale, noise and comedy to a new entertainment reality show. What is the modern, warmer take on the headline grabbing social experiments of the past? Your ideas should have a bold top line premise that feels fresh and relatable to a primetime audience. When developing your ideas, think about what makes them entertainment propositions rather than Fact Ent. They don’t require the purpose of a factual reality show and they must have an inbuilt wit and lightness of touch. Don’t just aim them at younger viewers, they should appeal to all.
We’re happy to hear about weekly post produced or event style strips; but please think of them as two separate territories. And these shows are expensive, so please consider co-funding models.
Arced Celebrity formats
We’re looking for relatable celebrity and/or comedian-led formats with a returning cast and series long narrative arc. Ideas should have a clear but light-touch purpose and of course need baked-in scale and humour; unlike factual we can have more overt format and competition.
Think about domestic settings, while making sure they still feel escapist and fun. They could be competitive, they could be collaborative; but the key drivers should be characters, drama, comedy and heart.
As with Reality, think about how we make this affordable. If it’s high tariff could we explore AFP from the start.
Privileged access to real world locations, institutions and brands needn’t be the preserve of factual. We’re interested in moving out of our traditional areas – physically as well as metaphorically
What real world backdrops could we access and design an entertainment show around?
Think about access to people; lockdown means we’ve spent months looking into celebrities' living rooms, but we rarely get beyond the carefully curated backdrop. Whose world would we really like to see inside – and who should be taking us in there? Ruby Wax and Louis Theroux re-invented the celebrity interview; who or what is our version? Surprising casting can be a potent tool here.
What entertainment formats could help some viewers relive a special slice of history or a introduce a younger audience to a particular story or moment for the first time? Or ideally do both?
How can we tap into these areas for comedy and drama? This doesn’t need to be a studio or a list show; we are open minded about approach and we’d love you to be imaginative with the form. Remember what an innovative blast ‘Bring Back’ was at the time, turning nostalgia from celebrity talking heads into a bonkers heist movie.
PARTNERED ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS
Ambitious event television has always been a key part of the C4 entertainment landscape as demonstrated by Stand Up To Cancer.
Event TV is at its best when it reflects the times we’re living in – so think about which real world themes we could amplify and about which partner could help make it happen
What We Don’t Want
- Complete one-offs. Don’t just think about the event itself; think strategically about what happens next.
- Events that are simply fun and noisy, your ideas don’t have to change the world, but they should say something interesting about it with attitude.
We love bringing our trademark entertainment values of comedy, scale and noise to E4 with shows such as 8 out of 10 Cats and Pants on Fire. We are not actively looking for new E4 entertainment submissions right now, but an updated brief will be coming soon. In the meantime, for details on E4 and how to contact the team please click here.
For all programme ideas, please make sure you send to Katie Buckley on firstname.lastname@example.org as well as the relevant commissioner.