ITV’s Jo Clinton-Davis shared her vision for producing factual content “which will be ballsy and stand out on the EPG” before a packed house at the Everyman Cinema in Bristol.
The ITV factual controller was in discussion with Stephen McQuillan, head of factual at Bristol indie Icon Films, at an RTS West of England event in September.
Her message to producers in the room was clear – it’s the 9pm slot that is important given there are few pre-watershed slots available. Clinton-Davis said: “I’m looking for very direct, simple propositions, which will appeal to a broad audience.”
Clinton-Davis discussed her commissioning team and the areas they look after. On how best to approach the team, she said: “A one- or two-line pitch works best – the title, the idea.” She added:
“Check, if you don’t have the resources, that we’re interested before spending any money on a taster tape.”
She revealed how a few key shows had made it from idea to screen, giving insight to the producers in the audience.
Clinton-Davis showed a preview clip from Manson: The Lost Tapes, which she described as “a risky two-parter with a Netflix quality”. The two-parter, which airs this autumn and takes the viewer inside the terrifying Manson cult, is part of ITV’s crime and punishment season.
The factual controller revealed how proud she was of ITV’s James Bulger documentary (James Bulger: A Mother’s Story), which was made with James’s mother’s co-operation and support. She “trusted us” and would only talk to “Trevor [McDonald]”, said Clinton-Davis, who promised more films in the crime and punishment season, including The Parachute Murder Plot with Fiona Bruce.
Clinton-Davis talked about the success of the long-running factual format, Long Lost Family and played a clip from an upcoming 90-minute special on foundlings, which she described as “an example of event television with strong characters and real emotion”.
The audience were also treated to a trailer for Match Fit, a two-part ITV factual entertainment show in which a team of English football legends from the 1980s and 1990s get back into shape and on to the pitch.