Channel 5 director of programmes Ben Frow pronounced TV to be in rude health at the RTS Futures Christmas Party, arguing that “people have got a thirst for programming that is more rewarding, that challenges them more.
“The silly programmes, the silly formats and the slight ideas are sinking without trace.”
As evidence, he cited the success of ITV drama Broadchurch, which came as “a really big surprise. The level of excitement – eight hours to find out who did it – was a real turning point for ITV and I think there are lots of lessons to be learned from that. It said to me that people want intelligence.”
Frow was a member of a panel – with other leading lights of the TV industry – brought together to talk telly and to offer advice to RTS Future members before the Christmas party kicked off.
Looking back at other highlights of the TV year, Frow said: “Educating Yorkshire has been a big breakout success – Channel 4 must be so grateful for it after the year that it has had.”
Another panelist, Grace Reynolds, series producer and director of Educating Yorkshire, made by Twofour Productions, offered tips on how to break into documentary film-making.
“You have to be interested in people, prepared to sit and listen and enjoy hearing about other people’s lives. It’s really hard work and you’re away from home a lot of the time. I’ve spent the past 10 years of my life in various parts of this country, and not very glamorous parts,” she said.
Love Productions co-founder and executive producer of BBC Two runaway hit The Great British Bake Off Anna Beattie advised the young hopefuls in the packed audience to: “Persevere, work really hard and make yourselves indispensable. You’ve also got to be curious about the world.”
Presenter Anna Richardson, who numbers C4’s The Sex Education Show among her credits and chaired the panel, argued that “being on-screen talent is the art of being yourself”.
C4 Paralympics Games presenter and medalist Ade Adepitan?agreed, adding: “I try to be someone who I would like to watch on TV. I imagine that people are allowing me into their front room. They could be eating their dinner, watching with their grandma or half naked, but you have to be someone who they are comfortable to be with. If you don’t come across as that person, they switch over straight away.”
The RTS Futures Christmas Party, in association with the Broadcast Hot 100, was held on 3 December at the Hospital Club in central London. The producers were Donna Taberer and Hilary Rosen.
Report by Matthew Bell
Picture by Paul Hampartsoumian