Channel 4 Entertainment and Events: New Brief 2019
What do we do?
From channel-defining events (Stand Up To Cancer) to award winning satire (The Last Leg), top quality comedy entertainment (The Big Narstie Show, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown) to spectacular live sport (Formula 1), our slate is characterised by range, scale and ambition.
We work with a wide range of producers and genres, both outside and inside the channel. Sometimes we work with a single company while other events cover a broad range of cross-genre content and may involve a mix of suppliers working on the same project. For example Stand Up To Cancer featured content from 12 different companies to create a month-long season of themed programming, culminating in a major piece of event TV. As well as our own commissions we also work closely with other C4 departments to deliver major events across the schedule.
What do we want?
In 2018 our key story was the search for new talent who could author a range of fresh entertainment shows to sit alongside our big and retuning brands. We had real success, delivering us new shows from Big Narstie, Courtney Act and Rob Rinder as well as key on screen roles for Mo Gilligan and Maya Jama. In addition we are developing a range of pilots with a host of other new names; you will see several of these shows and names on screen this year, some in the now established 11pm slot on Friday nights.
We are currently on the lookout for the following pitches:
Big Name Talent Vehicles for 9pm
Talent is absolutely key to all our thinking. We’ve always been at our best when our shows are authored: built around unique pieces of talent who bring a distinctive tone and have something to say – whether it’s the broad brilliance of Chris Evans, Richard Ayoade’s unique take on The Crystal Maze, the epic stunts of Derren Brown, or the brilliant and ridiculous world of Big Narstie. Having focused on new talent in 2018 now we want to hear your ideas for big name vehicles.
We are particularly interested in hearing your ideas for ‘real world’ talent: people who aren’t traditional TV presenters. What superstar could transform a show with an unexpected tone and authorship? What passion piece would attract a big name to the Channel? We want to hear your thoughts. While obviously we want you to be realistic, please don’t be limited by a sense that someone is too famous or would never do it. In the US there is a an increasing trend of adding scale to entertainment formats by attaching huge names: Beat Shazam with Jamie Foxx, Mental Samurai with Rob Lowe, Dwayne Johnson on The Titan Games, Ricky Gervais on Child Support, Ellen’s Game of Games. (Not forgetting of course older shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race). ITV have played a similar trick recently with Dawn French on Little Big Shots and Jeremy Clarkson on the rebooted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
2018 showed a real trend for experiential comedic, warm journeys with celebrities that we are keen to tap into. The Real Marigold Hotel, The Real Full Monty Live, and Michael Palin in North Korea are all warm celebrity led formats that really suit their channels. How do we tap into this trend so that it works for us – more mischievous, surprising and subversive but with warmth and relationships still at their heart? How would we ramp up the stakes to make an entertainment format that feels uniquely Channel 4? Again, we are happy to help you with more detailed creative steers and guidance to get the right tone and ambition. We are looking for series and one-off event pieces.
Big New Formats for 9 and 10pm
While talent-led projects remains a key priority for Entertainment, we are also in the market for comedy ents formats which are built around an interesting and distinctive top line or concept and feel big and ambitious. These could be original formats or interesting global formats that are funny, warm and joyful. These are not shows necessarily built around any talent, though we welcome your thoughts for who might host them too.
We have had success in the past with shows such as Friday Night Project, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush and now we are looking for the generation of these sorts of shows for prime time Fridays. We realise these formats are some of the hardest to crack but we are committed to finding the right ones for 2019 and are very happy to work with you to get there. So if you need to book in for brainstorms or more creative steers and guidance, we want to help you shape interesting top lines that are right for C4.
Similarly, if you have access to formats from around the world that you think are funny and warm, we would be interested in talking to you about how they could be tweaked and developed for us. Recent shows that have excited us include Queer Eye, Roast Battle and particularly The Masked Singer; what other formats would have a similar effect?
Stand Up To Cancer Related Opportunities
Stand Up To Cancer has grown from a high-risk commission into a channel-defining - and award winning - live event. As a biannual campaign there is no telethon this year but Stand Up will still be an important and visible brand across 2019. The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off will return and we have announced a celebrity version of SAS: Who Dares Wins. And there are more opportunities available, particularly in late Autumn where we traditionally run a season of shows under the SU2C umbrella.
We feel that the Stand Up brand is now strong enough to move beyond revivals or celebrity versions of existing C4 shows. That’s not to say we won’t consider these if the idea and treatment is distinct and noisy enough, but we’re particularly keen to hear your new ideas. What exciting things have you always wanted to do that might suddenly be possible under the SU2C banner? What ideas could only happen, or could become bigger and better because SU2C gives them a reason or purpose?
The Real Full Monty and Soccer Aid were both brilliant examples of brand new charity events but what are our version of these shows? David Walliams’ channel swim was a complete game changer as a celeb-led fundraising stunt; what is our equivalent? And please don’t think that fundraising or a message has to be front and centre – the original Celebrity Crystal Maze is a great example where SU2C provided a purpose without it dominating the editorial of the show.
Out of Studio Entertainment
We also want to hear entertainment ideas set outside the studio. Traditional studio shows are expensive and can limit the scope of a format, while US shows like Billy On The Street and Ru Paul’s Drag Race exist in their own worlds and are free to be more anarchic as a result. You don’t need to be in a studio to create an entertainment hit, as Gogglebox proves. Think about where your talent would naturally inhabit, or equally where would be surprising for them to be discovered? We also welcome ideas from indies who have lots of experience on location, but might not be established studio entertainment producers and want to pitch out of studio ideas. If the format, talent and setting are daring and different, then we want to hear your idea.
Late Night Live
Live shows have always been at the heart of Channel 4 Entertainment from The Big Breakfast and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush through to The Comedy Awards, The Jump and of course The Last Leg. And we’re looking for more. We’re particularly interested in hearing your ideas for a late night live show that could play at 11pm. It should be funny, provocative and spiky but it also needs to feel fresh and present tense: to be frank we usually get pitched cover versions of TFI Friday with someone different behind the desk. Whatever we commission could be a totally different tone or shape – it could be a noisy debate show (like Big Brother’s Big Mouth) or a mix of entertainment and provocative journalism like The Word. It will almost certainly be driven by a singular piece of talent with a very clear tone of voice. We don’t have enough live TV in our current slate: please help us put that right.