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Secret proposals

March 11th, 2006

Dr Petra

The other day I was explaining how TV companies are currently bidding to get new programmes commissioned.

Recently I was called about one such series, a sex/relationships programme that sounded interesting. I was keen to support it when the TV researcher told me a friend and colleague had already been approached and was endorsing the show. So I agreed to be on their talent list as a possible contributor/consultant should the series go ahead.

At the end of my discussion with the TV researcher they asked for my friend’s phone number. I assumed they must have mislaid it, or perhaps only spoken via email. I passed it on since my friend’s happy for me to do this, and emailed them to let them know a call might be coming from the TV company.

They replied to say they didn’t know anything about the series in question. It transpired they’d worked with the company in the past, but hadn’t been approached about this current planned series. The company had simply included them on their talent list because they’d worked together before.

Which made me feel less enthusiastic about the forthcoming series. A number of people were mentioned as supporting it and I wondered how many of these sex experts really had been approached – or even had endorsed the programme idea?

Although my friend reassured me the company was okay, and we both agreed the series if handled appropriately, could be positive, I still felt uncomfortable.

I wonder how many times colleagues or myself have been put down as a possible contributors or consultants without being spoken to by TV companies, perhaps after having a vague past link with them, or more worryingly after stating their programme ideas were completely unacceptable?

Could this be just a one-off error, or is it happening all the time on any number of issues or topics?

Do commissioning editors at television companies know when they’re presented with a talent list that some or perhaps most of the list are either oblivious to the programme in question – or certainly have no idea they’re being endorsing a forthcoming series idea.

And most importantly do TV researchers, producers, or commissioning editors care?

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