“My heart is in entertainment”, said Mark Linsey, controller in the BBC entertainment commissioning. This is his fifth year in the department and it seems he is living his dream – to work in the entertainment.
It’s all about ideas
Mark describes a large part of his business as “returning business”. Shared viewing is essential when it comes to diverting kind of shows. And in the very core of success in that area is the good idea – something fresh and attention drawing on Saturday night, when people stay home and watch TV. As Mark pointed out, it is “always a good destination of shows”.
“Most of our output is in the prime time, so it is really competitive”, he added, “We are looking for something that screams for attention.”
Written By Galya Dimitrova, First year
An inseparable part of the good idea has to be the talent. According to Mark its “power” has always been there. Along with that you also need a great producer. All these components form the secret of a best-selling format – outstanding personality and an engaging beginning-middle-end.
However, Mark said that they consider risks and when an idea is exhausted, they simply go for the next worthy offers. Such was the case with the panel show Shooting Stars on BBC2. To Mark it was a “wonderful show” but when its rating dropped, it was axed by the BBC to clear the way for new ideas.
“What is crucial for our portfolio is pushing the boundaries with talent”, explained Mark, “Otherwise, we are not doing our job.”
He said he had never turned down a show that eventually became a success, but he wishes he had commissioned Harry Hill’s TV burp, as he considers Harry “a great comedian”, and Britain’s Got Talent, a show that gives great opportunities.
Stars On The Big Screen
“Talents like to be on BBC”, said Mark, “A talent will push you to the limit of the deal. They want the best from us”
Pursuit for popularity has helped the department broaden the entertainment value. That is why in dancing shows now you see better dances and costumes and music formats like The Voice, which Mark hopes to be the next new format, will feature stars like Jessie J and Will.I.Am.
If you want to get your brand new ideas across and become a part of BBC’s entertainment commissioning, the important question you have to ask yourselves is “What would people like to see on Saturday night?”
“You have to be aware of what the programme needs and fill it with apprehension”, said Mark.
The good thing about today’s broadcasting is that is not centralised anymore. That means you have real opportunities even if you do not live in London. You only need qualities like determination, persistence, focus and drive to “harass” companies with your ideas to make them believe in your creativity. After spending ten years selling his ideas, Mark’s advise to you is “Watch TV and start forming your own opinion about everything – the lightning, the format, the setting, etc. In other words, “If you think you have an idea for BBC3, watch BBC3”.