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Producers hail idea-first sports commissioning

By 9th March 2020 No Comments

Heather Fallon, of Broadcast Intelligence, reports on sports programme commissioning insights from the Broadcast Sport Content Summit

Speaking at last week’s Broadcast Sport Content Summit, producers Dale Templar and Jordan Laird discussed how they got their sports programmes commissioned.

Laird is series director of A View From The Terrace, which is produced by Studio Something and came highly commended in this year’s Broadcast Awards for Best Sports Programme.

Offering a ‘sideways look at Scottish Football’, the series started as a popular podcast and was then commissioned last year for the fledgling BBC Scotland channel.

“It kind of came around by chance with the launch of BBC Scotland,” Laird explained. “They were looking for a topical sports show and David Harron had heard of our podcast.”

The talent behind the podcast had never been on television before, and still have other jobs alongside the show.

In the pilot stage of programme-making, the team looked to push the boundaries and ideas available to them.

“We were really conscious that, if this did work, we were going to have to make an awful lot of this,” said Laird. “We didn’t want to get stuck in a programme we don’t actually like making.”

The series features not only commentary and analysis of the latest topics in Scottish football but also interviews fans and players along with comedy sketches and documentary segments.

Advising an idea-first approach, Laird added: “We always lead with the questions. One popular one was ‘why didn’t you make it [to a professional level]?’ it’s a question a lot of football fans ask all the time.

“I think if we had gone with a talent-first approach, we would never have gotten some of our most interesting ideas off the ground.”

One Tribe TV managing director Dale Templar, managing director at One Tribe TV, took a similar approach in pitching and creating Jonnie’s Blade Camp to Channel 4.

Templar comes from a mostly documentary and factual entertainment background rather than sport-

“We were actually doing a science brainstorm,” she explained. “We started looking into the idea and realised the NHS provides limb disabled children a basic prosthetic but not necessarily a blade.”

In the programme, Paralympic champion Jonnie Peacock will help disabled children to participate in sport and physical activities by giving them the right support and tools, including a prosthetic blade.

The show was pitched to Joe Blake-Turner and Antonia Howard Taylor, to play in the lead up to C4’s coverage of the Paralympic games.

“[Talent-wise] for Jonnie’s Blade Camp, it evolved in tandem,” she said. “Sometimes these things happen organically together.”

Templar added that if an idea comes first, you can “retrofit” the talent.

“Something I’ve been taught, outside of sports as well, is that it’s no good to just have the best athletes, gymnasts, football or rugby players in the world.

”They’ve got to have something more than that that can translate into programming. Some of the best athletes in the world can be incredibly dull; not everyone is a Gary Lineker.

When asked how best they would each advise up and coming indies hoping to pitch their sports ideas, Templar said: “For every Jonnie’s Blade Camp, there were probably 50 just-as-good ideas that we can’t get away.

“You just have to keep going, go back with 10 more ideas and eventually you’ll crack it, but do listen to what the channels say.”

This article originally appeared on Broadcast. Words by Heather Fallon.

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