We understand that to meaningfully diversify our supply chains we need to commit to spend with ethnically diverse-led indies. Accordingly, as part of the legacy of the Black To Front project, in 2021 we became the first broadcaster to ring-fence commissioning spend for ethnically diverse-led indies.
As part of our commitment to ring-fenced spend, and in a pledge to help smaller, diverse indies grow, we are delighted to be partnering with Motion Content Group to deliver the Channel 4 and Motion Content Group Diverse Indies Fund - a new and dedicated fund designed to support small and medium sized ethnically diverse indies*.
*Please see below for the eligibility criteria for this fund.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
This fund is about backing and bringing to life fantastic ideas from creative leaders who are from diverse ethnic groups.
We are looking for the next wave of entertaining, funny, risky, ratings-winning ideas for C4 in 2022/23 and whilst we want you to bring us your very best thoughts for any part of our schedule across C4 and E4 with this fund we particularly want you to focus on returnable propositions.
Although the fund is ringfenced for diverse companies, we are not specifically looking for content with diverse themes or targeted at diverse audiences. That said, as ever, we of course welcome these ideas too.
Whilst we prefer not to be too prescriptive to allow true creativity to thrive, we know steers are always useful as you come up with the next big thing. The below outlines some of our current needs across C4 and E4.
PRIORITY SLOTS AND STEERS
We want new returnable formats that can refresh our 8pm midweek offering. We need programming here to skew upmarket with an ABC1 profile to play against the big soaps on ITV & BBC1.
- The 8pm weekday schedule is really varied so there is lots of opportunity here. So what works? Entertaining competitive whittles like The Great British Bake Off or Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker; Formatted animal focused series like The Dog House or Secret Life of the Zoo; Consumer shows like Food Unwrapped or Luxury for Less; Property titles like Amazing Spaces and Love it or List it, and talent led escapism like Escape to the Chateau.
- Are we missing a trick in typical C4 Features spaces such as Food, Money, Supermarkets, Escapism, Health and Travel? In Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back we fused comedy with consumerism - are there any other genre mash-ups that might feel like a clever new play in a well-worn space?
Here we need programming that will be a good alternative to the ‘shiny floor’ entertainment offerings on BBC1 & ITV. This means we need to aim at older ABC1 viewers.
- On Saturday evenings our key genres tend to be either Specialist Factual, particularly history, archaeology, war and royals, or Features, which could be anything from travelogues to access docs to gardening. Ideas that celebrate Britishness also seem to work well here and known national treasure talent helps to bring an audience.
- Series that have worked well for us in this slot include A Lake District Farm Shop; The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty, Living Wild: How to Change Your Life and Bettany Hughes’ Treasures of the World.
At 10pm we are looking for ideas that immediately draw an audience. We generally aim to skew younger with a focus on 16-34s and viewers who do not want to watch the news.
- Again, lots of opportunity here as weekdays at 10pm is incredibly varied. First Dates and Naked Attraction are two very different ways of doing dating but both continue to rate for us. Closed episode formats cut through well.
- Opening unseen worlds like Bouncers can work for us as can character-driven, docu-soaps like Inside Missguided: Made in Manchester which had a high young share and did well on All 4.
Very late Friday nights on C4 are all about easy, entertaining viewing with a focus on 16-34s.
We have previously made a commitment to experimentation and new talent at 11pm and would like to open up this space again. Our key genre here is Entertainment and we are particularly looking for comedy entertainment and straight entertainment ideas with the opportunity to showcase new talent baked in.
- The Bafta award winning The Big Narstie Show is on its fourth series in this slot and Harry Hill’s Clubnite starring him and a gang of up-and-coming comedians also played at 11pm on Friday nights.
- What is the next late night comedy entertainment/entertainment vehicle that would give a platform to exciting new talent on the channel?
We are looking for series that focus on character-driven factual precincts with a constant churn of stories that will appeal to a younger audience. In the past Tattoo Fixers has worked brilliantly for us in this space and now Teen First Dates is doing a similar job on the channel. It is worth remembering that all shows on E4 should feel populist and tabloid as well as aiming to drive All 4 viewings.
- Ideas could centre around an ensemble cast of young/young at heart characters in a real-world precinct e.g. a workplace like Super Salon, or a family or even a group of friends. Here you’re looking for at least one or two ‘leap off the screen’ characters to build the show around.
- Alternatively, it could be a more constructed precinct where stories or people are cast in like the Teen First Dates restaurant or the property agency in Selling Sunset. Despite the construct it shouldn’t feel formatted, must be universal and relatable and should still be produced to feel like a (highly entertaining) doc series.
E4 TX PILOTS
In 2021 E4 had great success experimenting with TX pilots. They are a great, cost effective way of testing audience reactions to potential new formats. We would like to explore more in 2022. Think low(ish)-cost repeatable formats about broad universal subjects – from dating to money, family to property and everything in between.
- In 2021 our E4 pilots included Naked, Alone and Racing to Get Home in the adventure competition space; The Love Triangle, Kinky Daters and One Night Stand, all exploring dating and relationships and One Stop Wedding Shop - a constructed wish fulfilment precinct. Two of these pilots are now commissioned series and new ten part series Send Nudes also started life as a pilot.
- Although these shows need to have broad appeal, the execution or formatting should feel innovative and/or subversive for a young audience.
- These pilots should have the potential to scale up to 10, 20 and even 30 eps over time.
- It could be a familiar subject but needs a fresh or funny take on it to reveal, or say something, new about it.
NEXT STEPS AND WHERE TO SEND YOUR IDEAS
Ideas should be taken to any Commissioning Editor/ Head of Department in the first instance. Please have a look at the genres on the 4Producers site to decide who your idea aligns to. The Creative Diversity team can help connect you with the right Commissioning Editor for your pitch if you’re not sure. Contact details below.
Vivienne Molokwu, Senior Commissioning Editor is the lead for the fund and she can also be reached if you have any further questions; VMolokwu@Channel4.co.uk. Please cc Senior Team Assistant Kate O’Bryan KOBryan@Channel4.co.uk into any correspondence.
If your idea is cross-genre, feel free to involve two genres from the outset. All ideas will be funded by the Motion Content Group.
There will be dedicated commissioning rounds for the Diverse Indie Fund throughout the year however, when relevant, pitches will also be considered on an ad hoc basis.’
Please note the deadline for the first commissioning round has been extended to Friday 6 May 2022.
DIVERSE INDIES FUND - ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
The three criteria below must be met to qualify for the Diverse Indies Fund. The criteria are in place to attempt to fast-track the number of indies we work with owned by those from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background and to help accelerate their growth.
- Not less than 25% of the shareholders in the relevant production company are individual(s) from an ethnically diverse background.
- Turnover in the most recently publicly available accounts must be below £5 million if pitching an unscripted title. For scripted the cap should be below £10 million.
- There cannot be any investment from and / or shareholding held by a multinational or pan-national studio or production group. This does not include ‘first look’ or distribution deals. Investment from individuals and other individual UK entities is permitted, as are shareholdings.
Where ideas are due to be progressed, the Creative Diversity team will check-in with the relevant indies to ensure the eligibility criteria are met.
We value working with all diverse-led indies so those who do not qualify for this fund are encouraged to pitch ideas via commissioning editors to the ringfenced commissioning spend announced last year as part of the legacy of the Black to Front project as well as standard methods.
For any queries, please contact:
Naomi Sesay, Head of Creative Diversity
Emma Hardy, Director of Commissioning Operations