Are we at peak unscripted content? Session chair Tim Davie noted that – while there was no short-age of good news for the genre (18 of the 20 top-performing original programmes on broadcast TV in the US that summer had been formatted entertainment) – there were worrying signs for the genre. The UK was still producing hit formats, but margins were declining and it was no longer the fastest growing market for original formats.
The first series originally aired on BBC Two earlier this year and the finale became the channel’s highest rated episode for a new factual entertainment programme since 2016.
Celebrity Race Across the World will follow four famous faces as they embark on a journey across the world with no mobile phones, internet access or access to air travel.
Joined by a loved one, the celebrities will be expected to travel thousands of miles with only the cash equivalent of a one-way flight to their last destination.
The new fellows represented a broad range of television industry talent.
Included were two of the most influential women in British TV – writer Kay Mellor, best known for Band of Gold and In the Club, and the BBC’s Director of Content, Charlotte Moore.
Also receiving a fellowship was one of the doyens of natural history film making, Alastair Fothergill,
His credits include Sir David Attenborough’s The Trials of Life and Life In The Freezer.
Another new fellow was the much-feted independent producer Stephen Lambert.
Global hits, unscripted as well as scripted, are what a lot of people in television dream of. Platform proliferation ought to mean that there are more hits than ever before but, as the panellists in this session – “Go global or go home” – know to their cost, hits remain as elusive as unity in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
Three of the four panellists have deep, hands-on experience of selling drama – Tim Davie, CEO, BBC Worldwide and Director, Global; Michael Edelstein, President, NBCUniversal International Studios; and Jane Millichip, Managing Director, Sky Vision.
Who will own the future – the broadcasters, the content owners or the global tech behemoths, such as Google, Facebook and Apple? The question is not new, but it is becoming ever more pressing for people in television.
James Purnell, the BBC’s Director, Strategy and Digital, led this comprehensive opening debate, “Happy Valley or House of Cards? Television in 2020”.
The preliminary programme for this year's RTS Cambridge Convention has been announced.
The convention, held on a biennial basis, brings together leading figures from the television and its related industry.
This year's event looks forward to television in 2020, focusing on the challenge for content, creativity and business models.
The programme features sessions covering foreign ownership of UK production, the rise of the smart phone in television viewing, and the influence of talent in programme-making.
Stephen Lambert looks a bit like Lenin – bald, with steely blue eyes and a bit unyielding. He can claim to be the man who revolutionised factual television, bringing us so many of the formats that dominate the schedules, from Wife Swap, The Secret Millionaire and Undercover Boss to Faking It.
His most recent hit is Gogglebox, the Channel 4 offering that united David Cameron and Nick Clegg in admiration, when asked during the election campaign which shows they enjoyed.