RTÉ Documentaries & Series
Commissioning Editor Factual Documentaries & Series
T: 01 208 3977
RTÉ Documentaries & Series
Commissioning Editor Factual Documentaries & Series
T: 01 208 3977
The programmes that RTÉ One airs between 9 and 11 are channel defining. The Documentaries and Series department commissions into three key slots Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30pm on RTÉ One. As the week progresses the tone of our post-watershed offerings will change to reflect our audience’s mood and expectations. Across all nights, we need to offer a broad audience stories that reflect their lives and the society in which they live now. We need ambitious offerings that will always stand apart in the TV schedule. We need propositions that the audience will make an appointment to view.
Sunday nights have the biggest available TV audience of the week. This is the time when a very large and broad audience need to rely on RTÉ to distract them from the week ahead. Audience’s emotional engagement is key. Sunday is a night for routine and the very best factual series will be rewarded by a loyal audience. This is the home of big returnable formats and short, highly entertaining factual series.
Duration: Series of 52 minutes. Three to six parts.
Budget Range: 90,000 – 110,000 per hour (in exceptional circumstances, budgets can be negotiated)
Broadcast : Sundays 9:30pm RTÉ One. Autumn/Spring 2019-20
Sunday is a time for stories, characters and emotional engagement. Room to Improve delivers big audiences because of the quality of its story telling as well as the popularity of key talent. Great House Revival similarly tells big stories over a protracted time-frame, therefore guaranteeing a pay-off. Can we develop other loosely formatted factual series that guarantee audiences an emotional arc?
The blend of Factual and Entertainment that have delivered so well in At Your Service and The Grand Tour, should find a place on Sunday nights, post-watershed. Warmth and fun are welcome antidotes to the Sunday night ‘fear’. We need to identify key talent and the right ideas for them. The Real Marigold Hotel is a touchstone here.
We would particularly like to develop our own stories and formats but are open to acquired formats that fit with audience expectations on Sunday. We’ve commissioned Who Do You Think You Are and are happy to consider and trial these kind of ‘blue chip’ formats. We’re also happy to look at piloting shorter series for a longer commissioned run in subsequent years.
We have a number of returning staples in the schedule, including Room To Improve and The Great House Revival. If you have any ideas that are stronger than our current offering, we would love to hear from you.
We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system: https://e-commissioning.rte.ie/SWIFT.Web/skins/rte/login.aspx under the programme category Factual Documentaries & Series " Sunday Nights”
The Monday 9:30pm is one of RTÉ’s most important slots. With the right subject, the right talent, and the right treatment, it can shape the national conversation for the entire week. Generally, we are looking to lighten our offering on Mondays and offer the audience a variety across the year. If the quality of the storytelling is consistent, the slot itself should become appointment-to-view. We are also keen to commission more multi-part documentaries and short series.
Duration: 52 minutes. One-offs and short series of two to three parts.
Budget Range: 100,000 – 120,000 for one-offs. 90,000 – 110,000 per hour for series.
Broadcast: Mondays 9:30pm RTÉ One. Commissioning into 2019/20/21
All programmes for this night need to have substance and to earn the attention that the audience is prepared to give at this point in the week. Mondays are an important night for all broadcasters and are therefore particularly competitive with high profile dramas and the biggest international formats playing from 21.00.
We want big stories, high end production values and great story-telling. We want programmes that are timely, and the schedule will always flex to accommodate time sensitive productions. We’re also open to developing programmes with very long tails that may not come to fruition for a number of years. Mondays are where we showcase our very best documentaries. We need a mix of light and shade; it’s the quality and timeliness of the programmes that earmarks them for Monday nights.
We are open to ideas for one-offs and short series (up to four parts) in the following areas: Films with heart - what has resonated incredibly well with our audience in recent years have been documentaries that have revealed something about human experience - both to the audience and to the documentary's subjects themselves. Docs like Golden: Our Fifty Years of Marriage; Too Old For The Road; Older Than Ireland; We Won the Lotto. We would be interested in more ideas with layered human interest at their core. These are directors' docs that need a filmic treatment - where the storytelling and production values are sometimes as important as the subject. They need to be well cast and will need a strong, but invisible hand in the production. Treatments should always explain how the programme wills look and feel, what its reference points are as well as what it’s about.
National treasures - docs like Micko; Giles; This is Christy; and Fairytale of New York have played very strongly with our audience and have also had an added element of punch through. Featuring the story of someone who is universally loved is one thing, doing that story justice is another. Each of these documentaries succeeded in this. We would be interested in more documentary ideas where the appeal of the subject is apparent, but where we also have a compelling vision for the doc.
Finding the story in current events - docs like My Homeless Family; The Crossing; We Need to Talk About Dad; Ireland's Property Crisis; The Undocumented have all managed to take an 'issue' and find the story in it, turning what could have been current affairs light into high-end documentary. We'd be interested in other doc ideas that can also do this - by adopting either a human-centred approach or an innovative storytelling approach. We're not looking for authored reports at this moment, unless the author has a deep and personal connection with the subject matter.
Popular consumer stories - docs like Sugar Crash; and One Day: How Ireland Eats have shown that there is an enormous appetite for docs that take a consumer feature and give it an intelligent and popular treatment. We would be open any ideas in this area.
Stranger than Fiction – These are ripping yarns. Stories that could have international appeal, where fact is really stranger than fiction and where the assembled protagonists can bring the viewer on a riveting and frequently surprising trip. Films like The Du Plantier Case and The Many Lives of Kevin McGeever are recent RTE examples. Older examples are the Bertie and Haughey series’. International examples are The Jinx and Making a Murderer. These can be stories of individuals or of institutions but the key is the yarn and access to all the main protagonists. We are open to looking at longer durations and multi-part treatments in really exceptional cases.
We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system https://e-commissioning.rte.ie/SWIFT.Web/skins/rte/login.aspx under the programme category Factual Documentaries & Series "Monday Nights”
Traditionally, the Wednesday 9:30pm slot has been the home of the Midweek Movie. However, in recent years we have been placing more commissioned content there. And, from January 2019 Wednesday 9:30pm will be the new home of Operation Transformation. What we’re looking for on Wednesday nights are intelligent factual series that will offer an escape to the viewer. We would welcome ideas that have a contemporary treatment and use innovative storytelling techniques.
Duration: 52 minutes. Series of three to eight parts.
Budget Range: 85,000 – 100,000 per hour
Broadcast: Wednesday 9:30pm RTÉ One. Autumn 2019, Spring/Autumn 2020
Meaty factual formats and observational series.
Our research tells us that our audience is ready for more challenging and informative programming on Wednesday nights. The week is now well under way and we should challenge, provoke and inform our audience.
Again, lightly formatted factual series, both original and acquired formats, could find their place here. While stories and characters are still of the utmost importance, Wednesday night’s stories are likely to have more purpose.
Observational series will also find their place here but access alone will not find an audience. Series like 24 Hours in Police Custody and A Very British Hotel, Educating Yorkshire and Junior Doctors have added a layer of storytelling and production which give a distinct identity to individual series. We need to know what access you have but we also need to know what kind of programme you’re going to make and what your stylistic references are.
Many traditional lifestyle series have been hampered by the half-hour slots pre-watershed. Consumer oriented lifestyle series on subjects like food, health and property could, if ambitious and ‘grown up’ enough, find a better long-term home Wednesday evenings. Programmes like Sugar Crash, The Truth About…, Awake, The Science of Sleep and Trust Me I’m a Doctor would all sit well on Wednesday evenings. There is scope to create a number of anchor tenants for this slot from Factual programmes.
We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system https://e-commissioning.rte.ie/SWIFT.Web/skins/rte/login.aspx under the programme category Factual Documentaries & Series "Wednesday Nights”