UKTV’s factual checklist, channel by channel

In her role as UKTV's director of factual, lifestyle and new media, Jane Mote steers the editorial direction of six channels: Eden, Blighty, Yesterday, Home, Really and Good Food. Here, Mote takes realscreen through each channel explaining how she sees each brand and what she's looking for in factual.
March 15, 2010

Jane Mote has a lot of targets to keep in mind and aim for. At UKTV the director of factual, lifestyle and new media is responsible for the output of six factual channels. While there are similarities between the content she’s looking for at each brand – she wants strong narratives and programs that have people at their hearts – each channel has its own niche she wants to target.

Blighty: With a mandate to celebrate modern Britain, Blighty features shows that focus on British heritage, landscapes and people. Mote says this mandate often makes it difficult to get content from non-British prodcos, but her advice to producers looking to work with the channel is to bring her something with humor and a strong journalistic narrative. The channel is mainly made up of acquisitions but she is always looking for content that can make its UK premiere on Blighty. ‘And if that means paying more to get in on preinvestment and copros,’ she says, ‘then we’ll do that.’

Eden: Where Blighty sticks to Britain, Eden takes UKTV audiences to the rest of the world. ‘It is about that wonder and amazement around the higher end of natural history, earth science or storytelling around wildlife and the environment,’ explains Mote. What currently works best for this channel is acquired David Attenborough content, so in order to bring in original content, Mote is willing to go in on coproductions to hit a budget that will allow programs to sit nicely along side Attenborough.

Yesterday: As UKTV’s history channel, Yesterday has a very clear directive – to look at the past through a contemporary lens. While war programming goes over well on the channel, social history is also something Mote would like to see more of. On the war side, programs looking at forgotten wartime moments and their effect to this day work for Yesterday. For instance, the upcoming program Channel Islands at War looks at life on the islands during the German occupation in WWII using testimony from people who lived there in that era. On the social history end, Ration Book History mixes food and history programming. Food presenter Valentine Warner takes ingredients families would have used through rations during wartime and recreates meals from those times, sharing them with the people who helped him research the recipes. Yesterday is mostly made up of acquisitions but is moving into more commissions.

Good Food: Over 50% of this channel’s programming comes via commissioning. What works well on Good Food, says Mote, are programs that involve ‘discovery, travel and the sociability of food.’ Mote is looking for programs on this channel to appeal to both ‘foodies’ and a general audience, which means authenticity and entertainment value are both key. Mote finds that food programming travels better than other types of programming, so there is a lot of opportunity here for markets outside of the UK.

Home: According to Mote, roughly 30% of Home’s programming is original commissions. This is in part because she feels that food and home are two of the biggest markets for factual right now, but it’s also down to the fact that she finds it hard to find good home-related programs to acquire. What she wants for the channel is programming that focuses on how people feel about their homes. ‘We love what our homes mean to us, they’re very personal and I think there’s an emotional thread there that we can re-own and recapture,’ she says. ‘I don’t think it’s quite being done yet. I’m really looking at new ideas for Home.’

Really: The newest channel in the UKTV family, Really is targeted at the young female market. ‘It is for programs that [make you say] ‘really?” explains Mote. The new channel is currently completely acquisition-based, bringing in a lot of programming from the BBC and the U.S., but the aim is to have fun with pop cultural programming and lure a young audience.

Looking across all her channels, Mote has some basic advice to producers. ‘Look at what our brands mean, because generally speaking we want to stay really tight on what our brands are about,’ Mote advises. ‘[But] the message is to not be afraid to come to us with something different.’

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