Ideas are the lifeblood of television. Ideas are consumed at a great rate and those who commission new programmes are constantly on the lookout for the next Big Idea. If you want to get into and get on in television, it certainly helps if you have ideas, or at least know where to find them.
You may well find that that every idea you eagerly present to a potential employer has already been done. Most ideas have indeed been covered in some way or another but there is always more than one way to present an idea. Often the way you format an idea is more important than the subject matter itself. Cookery has been a topic in television programme for ever but producers constantly manage to come up with new ways to format it – from Master Chef-style competitions to entertaining Ready, Steady, Cook-style challenges; from back-to-basics Delia Smith demonstrations to living-off-the-land with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
There is no point simply suggesting a cookery show. It’s been done a million times, but it is worth suggesting a novel way of doing cookery. That’s your challenge – how you can take a popular subject and devise an original style of presentation for the screen?
Talent plays an important role. This is a subject all of its own and one we shall return to. But staying on the cookery theme, discovering a new on-screen chef, someone who offers something different – a big personality – can be enough to sell a new cookery series.
But where to find new ideas, if they are not naturally popping into your head at 3am? Here are some of the obvious places:
Basically ideas are all around you. You just need to spot them, research them and work them into something original, entertaining and informative.
If you are heading for a job interview that is in any way creative – even as a runner or work experience, don’t go without ideas. At least plough through recent newspapers and magazines and tear out any that you think could lead to a new idea. You could grab some friends and family before the interview for a brainstorm – throwing ideas around in a group is always more fun and generally more productive than doing it on your own. And if no-one asks you at the interview for your ideas then volunteer them or email them to the relevant person afterwards.
There is so much to say about ideas in television so we’ll come back to the subject soon and include advice on how to present them, protect them (hard!) and develop them.
© Siubhan Richmond March 2011