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Can Pineapple Dance Studios save factual TV?

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10 March 2010

Sky1’s formatted doc Pineapple Dance Studios is a “ground breaking TV format” that points the way for producers looking to reinvent factual and entertainment formats.

So thinks Alex Connock, the boss of one of Britain’s biggest factual TV producers, Ten Alps, which owns blue-chip documentary makers Brook Lapping and Films of Record.

Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch today Connock said: “Pineapple Dance Studios is frivolous docusoap about a Covent Garden dance company. In a nice way it’s a load of old nonsense, but a groundbreaking TV format. They [producers Pulse Films] have invented something called the performance doc.”

“The world of TV formats is in a constant state of evolution but in the last few years it’s been in stasis because of the whole panic over factual TV. But I think you are going to see a new explosion in factual formats over the next couple of years and Pineapple Dance Studios is right at the cutting edge of it. Everybody who works in TV loves it because it is so innovative and there is so much joi de vivre about it.”

For the record, Connock is not involved in the production at all and says he doesn’t know the production company behind Pineapple Dance Studios, Pulse Films.

Connock thinks the big challenge in TV in the years ahead is to create new entertainment formats. “All the big formats of first decade of 21st century are at the end of their shelf life. Big Brother has been decommissioned while judging shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent are being sustained by the charisma of Simon Cowell. The big challenge that the BBC, ITV and Sky face is what is next global entertainment format. That is the elixir - that is what they are after.”

Reinventing formats that sell abroad is one of the ways that Connock thinks that British media can help the UK export itself out of the recession.

To help boost British media exports, Connock also called for the BBC to create an online equivalent of the BBC’s Window of Creative Competition (WOCC) and open up the BBC’s online activities to outside producers and organisations.

“The WOCC has been a genuine success. You could build on that success online. So you could have situation where the BBC says lets have a Shakespeare presence and would put that out to tender to BBC drama and the Royal Shakespeare Company…and may the best man win. Say the RSC won because it had a better proposition, you’d strategically put all BBC Shakespeare on the RSC site. That would be a real serious value builder for the UK."

He added that if the BBC created strategic partnerships with other cultural organisations in the UK, as suggested by BBC director general Mark Thompson last week, it could create valuable assets for Britain.

If organisations like The National Gallery, The Royal Opera House and the Tate Gallery could get access to the BBC’s programme library and resources “they could take tentative steps to become broadcasters in their own right”, he said.

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