K7 Media

K7 Media


Ten top insights into the current state of TV programme commissioning by Mark Robson & Graham Smith of Grand Scheme Media.

1. When pitching, stick with the basics

TV Commissioners are busy people, so don’t overload them with detail. Make sure you have a concise outline document, snappy title and a simple logline.  If they like what they see, they’ll ask for more.

2. Commissioners are honest

They know their channel and audience demographic and know what they’re looking for. They have no reason to hide that, so when they ask for a sizzle rather than a script, give them what they ask for.

3. Waffles are for breakfast, not for the meeting room

Commissioners may like a gossip, but they’re generally really shrewd operators. Don’t try and blind them with waffle.

Commissioners are honest. They know their channel and what they’re looking for.

4. Encourage young talent

More young people should join format development teams rather than bands! There are brilliant talents out there, with fresh ideas, so bring them into the fold and reward them for their work.

5. Invest in originality

Some countries need to branch out and not just pride themselves on recreating existing shows. We love the ingenuity of Japanese formats, but their shows need character narrative not just game play.

6. Secrets can be taught

There are key development room techniques to get the most out of a creative moment. There’s a magic number of people to have in the room, for example. We try to pass on what we know to students at the NFTS, BBC Academy and the Indie Training Fund.

7. Know the market!

We bang on relentlessly about this like a couple of old farts. Development producers should know what’s being made, what’s worked and what hasn’t.

8. Don’t miss the subtle changes!

Keep an eye on the evolution of formats – true innovation is rare, but gradual change can still catch you out.

Keep an eye on the evolution of formats – true innovation is rare, but gradual change can still catch you out.

9. Answer politely and speedily

Commissioners, you know the score, so if an idea’s not right let’s have a quick “No”. Answer your emails, because if you don’t you risk looking like a snob. Ben Frow at Five is our ideal example: he’s amazing at giving a quick response. We love him.

10. Grand Scheme is not a production company

This means we’re free to focus on what our clients need. We package and develop formats, scripts and talent-led projects, but also do a lot of training. Our primary goal is to turn good ideas into good programmes, and bring a bit of positivity to bear on the market, making everyone’s life easier. We’re format plumbers and supply teachers, basically.

This piece is adapted from an article which first appeared in Televisual – grandscheme.tv

Mark Robson and Graham Smith