Factual Development and Production

NFTS - National Film and Television School

Program Description

Factual Development and Production

NFTS - National Film and Television School

Factual Development and Production

Factual programmes are at the heart of UK television schedules from Royal Marines Commando School, to Gold Rush to North America. This 12-month part-time NFTS Diploma in Factual Development and Production will enable participants to develop the organisational, planning and creative skills required to take an idea through from initial pitch to transmission and beyond.

Producers have overall responsibility for making programmes happen. They begin work in the development stage and work right through until the programme or series is delivered to the channel and transmitted. Therefore this unique course is structured around three key areas - developing shows and understanding the factual programming market; producing a show; and delivering a show and managing the show post transmission.

Students will be taught by leading producers and commissioners responsible for some of the UK’s most iconic UK factual shows such as Educating The East End, Salvage Hunters and Bear Grylls.

The course advisory board includes commissioners and established series producers:

  • Aaqil Ahmed - Head of Commissioning – Religion TV and Head of Religion & Ethics - BBC Religion and Ethics
  • Ade Rawcliffe – Diversity and Talent Manager – Channel 4
  • Alexis Price – Head of Development – Renegade Pictures
  • Alyson Jackson – Head of Production Management at Discovery Networks International
  • Chris Shaw – Editorial Director, ITN Productions
  • Dan Korn – Head of Factual at Discovery Networks International
  • Denman Rooke – Managing Director, October Films
  • Dimitri Doganis – Founder, Raw
  • Emma Morgan – Head of Popular Factual – Oxford Scientific Films
  • Jane Root – Chief Executive, Nutopia
  • Maxine Watson – Acting Head of Documentary - BBC
  • Rob Carey – Creative Director, Curve

The course is part-time (one evening a week and occasional Saturdays) over twelve months and is delivered at Discovery House in Chiswick, London. Participants will leave the course with a portfolio of material developed during the course, including ideas for factual shows, production bibles and treatments. The course will end with students pitching an idea to senior executives from Discovery Networks International; one student pitched show will be ‘optioned’ securing £5,000 for further development with the support of a Discovery executive producer.

Specifically participants will learn about:

  • Factual programming trends in the UK and US
  • Developing and Researching programme ideas
  • Pitching an idea
  • Casting Contributors
  • Working with Talent On and Off Screen
  • Budgeting and Scheduling
  • Compliance
  • Health and Safety
  • Covering Interviews
  • Shooting the Scene
  • Working in the Edit
  • Writing Voice Over
  • 360-degree ways of working
  • Working with Press and Marketing
  • Delivering a show for a UK Broadcaster
  • Working with different types of broadcasters in the UK and US

Students graduate able to:

  • Develop and pitch marketable factual programme ideas
  • Build and manage factual teams
  • Produce factual programmes
  • Meet the delivery requirements of different broadcasters in the UK and US
  • Critically analyse factual programmes
  • 4 x £5,000 Discovery scholarships are available to students on this course

Discovery and the NFTS encourage applications from the brightest and best talent out there….from all backgrounds. To reaffirm our commitment to supporting exceptional talent and diversity in the media and broadcasting industries, we are encouraging applications from gifted individuals and under-represented groups, and have scholarships on offer to four of the successful candidates. These will be awarded to stand out talent who can demonstrate that without this funding they would not be able to afford the course, or who can demonstrate they bring a unique and distinct perspective to the course.


Many of the people on the course advisory board will also teach on the course. In addition Discovery Networks International executives support the course.

CURRICULUM The course is made up of a number of modules and workshops, participants learn by ‘doing’ as well as understanding theory and developing a variety of practical and creative skills. Each of the modules will focus on the UK in the first instance and then compare and contrast approaches with the US market.

Module 1: UK and US Factual Programming and Shows

Commissioning and big picture market trends: schedules, contracts, ratings, formats, digital.

Module 2: Developing, Pitching and Selling Factual Programmes

Development, Pitching and 360-degree opportunities

Module 3: Producing single factual programmes and series for UK Broadcasters

Budgeting, Scheduling, Health and Safety, Casting Contributors, Working with Talent, Integrating Digital Content

Module 4: Managing the Shoot and Edit of Factual Programmes

Covering Interviews, Shooting the Scene, Working with Contributors, Writing Voice Over, Working with an Editor, Conducting Viewings

Module 5: Delivery, Transmission and Post Transmission

Broadcaster Requirements, Compliance, Press and Publicity, Other potential post production/delivery issues

Module 6: Developing a Factual Idea (Graduation Project)

Develop an idea for a Factual Series - producing an outline/treatment and a first series production bible. The module will end with students pitching their show to leading Discovery executives. One student pitched show will be ‘optioned’ securing £5,000 in order for further development with the support of a Discovery executive producer to take place.

In addition, there is the possibility – for those that wish to pursue it and subject to availability – to undertake a two week attachment with a production company or broadcaster in the UK.


Factual Development and Production course participants will have full access to the NFTS’ optional creative stimulus strands, including: Passport to Cinema (weekly screenings of classic and pre-release films in the state-of-the-art campus cinema or at the BFI Southbank); and NFTS Masterclasses (major creative figures from film, television and games screening their work and discussing with students in the campus cinema. Recent speakers include Graham King (producer, Hugo, The Departed), Guy Ritchie (Director, Sherlock Holmes), Danny Boyle (Director, Slumdog Millionaire), Ian Livingstone (former President and CEO, Eidos) and Graham Linehan (Father Ted, IT Crowd)


Applicants will typically have some experience - if only at a junior level - in Television and have the commitment to progress to a more senior role.

Applicants do not necessarily have to have a university Bachelors degree to apply for the course, but must be able to: demonstrate a knowledge of television; provide details of past achievements; demonstrate a clear focus for their future ambitions; and, crucially, show a passion for Factual programming.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated January 25, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
12 months
Part time
Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom London, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 12 months
Price Request Info