ITV Commissioners Emphasize Network’s ‘Appointment Viewing’ Strategy, Commit to Increased Disability Representation

ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill, head of entertainment, Katie Rawcliffe, and head of factual entertainment, Sue Murphy, emphasized their desire for live, appointment viewing content during a panel discussion Wednesday at the Edinburgh TV Festival. They also stated their commitment to improving disability representation.

“The thing about ITV is it wants to entertain the nation, doesn’t it, so we are looking for hits,” said Hill. “That’s easier said than done, but I mean that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to try and find content, and for me, find drama stories that everybody wants to watch and that can bring people together.”

She also said there was a large focus on true crime, particularly in drama. “We’re not doing so many period adaptations and that’s purely because we made some that we loved, and the audiences didn’t come in the numbers that we hoped,” she said.

Rawcliffe also took the opportunity to reveal a bit more about “Walk the Line,” ITV’s new gameshow with Simon Cowell. “It isn’t a traditional sort of talent show in the sense of the ones who’ve worked with Simon before, there’s no sort of big record deal at the end of it, or a sort of career promised in the music industry and we chatted sound about that quite a lot,” she said.

“It’s sort of bringing a game show element into that show,” she said, adding that ITV is in the middle of casting it.

Rawcliffe also outlined what ITV looks for in a show, saying: “All our shows have – you have to want to talk about them.”

“It’s joyful escapism. I think the ingredients for shows is gonna stay the same and it’s what sets us apart from places like Amazon and Netflix.”

Hill, Rawcliffe and Murphy all agreed that more disability representation is needed on the channel. Their commitment followed screenwriter Jack Thorne’s McTaggart Lecture, earlier in the week, in which he said: “TV has failed disabled people. Utterly and totally.”

“Disability has been overlooked,” Murphy said. “We’ve been pulling all of our departments across the channel. It’s a priority moving forward. In the first instance we need to be more representative on air of people with disability. And then we need to work really, really hard about employment behind the camera.”

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