LIVING is glossy and guilty at 15

Upon the anniversary of LIVING, the Virgin Media-owned UK channel announces its programs and boasts a growth of 75% since 2001. Realscreen spoke with Claudia Rosencrantz, director of programs, about the plans for the future of the channel.
September 4, 2008

Virgin Media-owned UK channel LIVING enters its 15th year this month. With this anniversary comes today’s announcement of a few brand new commissions including Four Weddings (w/t) an ITV Productions’ series that features four brides who attend each other’s weddings and critique them; and three new hour long docs in the Living With… strand, Living with Boy George, Living with Jade Goody and Living with Karl and Yvette Fielding, all to be aired this fall.

LIVING2 announced new acquisitions to look forward to such as She’s Got the Look, a sort of America’s Next Top Model for 35- to 60-year-olds from FremantleMedia Enterprises, and Queen Bees a rehab house for seven nasty girls from Endemol International B.V. Realscreen spoke with Claudia Rosencrantz, director of programs, about the future of the channel.

In your 15th year, what is the current strategy for the channel?
It’s an absolute destination channel for glossy, guilty pleasure entertainment which has a slight female skew. What I would call guilty pleasure and trashy glamour is behind our thinking and our strategy.

What is the balance between acquisitions and commissions?
We commission really only for our peak time schedule. Our off peak is a complete acquisitions strategy and then our peak is 60% acquisitions, 40% commissions.

What trends are you seeing in what’s being pitched to you?
Clearly dancing has been a huge success all over the world and one of the big things we looked at was how LIVING could make dancing with its own voice. That was behind our thinking to commission the series Dirty Dancing: The Time Of Your Life which, unlike other dance shows that are studio based, is actually based on location where the entire movie was shot. So we’re actually living the film, living the dream. That was our highest ever commission and that’s coming back in its second season this autumn.

One of the other big shows we’ve wanted to really push that we’re launching this autumn is Pop Goes the Band. Obviously extreme makeover and surgery shows have been hugely successful and we were looking at how you could move that on. How you could take that genre to the next level. What we’ve done with Pop Goes the Band is we’ve put hugely successful bands through the process of improving themselves. If you take the pictures of what they look like at the their prime, slightly cruel, the posters that adorned a million bedrooms, then you look at them next to their pictures, clearly it’s not the same. How can we get them back, for a one night only performance looking as near to how they did in their heyday as possible?

What advice would you give to producers who want to pitch to your channel?
My advice would be think bold and think big. Yes we’re the home, in this country, of America’s Next Top Model and Britain’s Next Top Model, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we want more of that. It means we want different things. I’ve asked producers to look in a much bolder way at how we broaden our reach and how we take risks.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.