As the new year gets underway, TBI speaks to key buyers about the shows they want and the models being used to pay for them.
Richard Watsham, chief creative officer, UKTV, & global director of acquisitions, BBC Studios/UKTV
What kind of shows are you currently looking to commission?
UKTV Originals are ambitious, with strong talent and originality, irrespective of genre. We are currently looking for new projects across a number of genres including crime drama, male-skewing comedy entertainment and fact-ent for both male and female 30-40 somethings. As always, given the breadth of what we commission, it’s best to start a conversation with the relevant commissioners and get a detailed brief.
Are you open to pitches & at what stage would you want to join a project?
We’re always open to pitches and equally happy to develop projects from scratch with producers, come in on projects that have already been developed by others, or acquire as a pre-buy, depending on the cost and ambition of the piece. We know the value of partnerships and are keen to explore projects at every point on the spectrum between a full commission and an acquisition.
What financing models can you offer & how much can you contribute towards productions?
We cashflow originations, fully funding or co-funding alongside other broadcasters and distributers across a wide range of genres.
What upcoming shows are you most looking forward to? What is it about those projects that makes them a good fit for your channel/platform?
We have a new comedy entertainment format from an original Korean show, called Battle In The Box. In it, two pairs of comedians compete against each other in ridiculous challenges. The catch though is that the two teams are confined to a rectangular box for 24 hours and every time they win a challenge, they steal space off their opponents and get to fill their side of the box with luxury items. It’s a brilliant combination of comedy and reality with a mechanic that encourages just enough competition to give the whole show a wonderful energy.
We also have a brand-new crime drama, The Marlow Murder Club, from the creator of Death in Paradise, Robert Thorogood. Unsurprisingly, the scripts are excellent and the casting is top notch, with Samantha Bond in the central role as one of three ordinary women who come together to solve a murder. It’s perfect for UKTV Play and our linear channel Drama because of the strong female leads, the twisty plot and the gorgeous world of Marlow nestled on the River Thames.
What is on your acquisitions wishlist at the moment?
First run, English-language drama, especially female-skewing crime procedurals. Archive drama boxsets, both famous titles and lesser-known gems that our audience may have missed, and we’re always in the market for fact-ent for both male and female audiences.
How do you approach balancing acquisitions vs original commissions?
Both acquisitions and originations are vital to UKTVs success and our ability to balance the two has been integral to us keeping our head above water during this latest advertising downturn. Both content sources have different functions though and we use them in different quantities to balance overall volume, known titles, marketable pieces, press attention, reputation and awards.
Which rights would you be looking to acquire? How flexible can you be?
We’re generally looking for VOD and linear rights for our seven channel brands across UK and Eire (Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, W, Yesterday), however, we can be very flexible, and the rights we seek will depend on the title and value we think it will bring to UKTV.
Which shows are performing well for you currently?
Bangers And Cash on UKTV Play and Yesterday is a large and growing franchise and both the main show and the spin off, Restoring Classics, drive big numbers for us across both VOD and linear. One of our acquisitions, Darby And Joan has been doing very well on Play and Drama in January, and BBC Studios’ own Sister Boniface Mysteries Christmas special was our highest rating show in the run up to Christmas.
Read more TBI Buyers Profiles