The documentary commissioners from the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 gave their take on what innovation in documentary means for their channel at today’s Televisual Factual Festival.

Channel 5’s Guy Davies said that although completely new forms of doc were hard for the channel due to expense, live events were just one way the broadcaster was being innovative with its output. He pointed to the recent Operation Live that went out for two hours a night. “It felt like a space at 10pm that we could inhabit. It was hard to pull off but felt like an event. There’ll be more live” programming in the same vein, he said. 

ITV’s factual controller Jo Clinton-Davis said she had “innovate in the mainstream. You can innovate with shape – an elongated start on one night or in terms of form.” She said that for ITV, the trick is to approach tough subjects in “clever, inventive, fun way” and picked out the upcoming Slimming For England as a way “you can innovate by creating something bigger.”

Channel 4’s Alisa Pomeroy said the channel was “open to the “ludicrous and preposterous” mentioning an upcoming game show/doc hybrid pilot. She also picked out the recent Married to a Paedophile that used actors to re enact a pre shot doc to disguise the identities of the participants. “It’s a new form to tell an inaccessible story. It demonstrates Channel 4’s willingness to make big expensive plays and experiment.”

The BBC’s Clare Sillery said there was “innovation in everything” the channel does mentioning Hospital and the “way it approaches storytelling” and Marigold Hotel as a “new way to take on the top line of ageing. Every commission is looking for something a bit different.”

Staff Reporter

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