Netflix U.K. Looking for ‘Warm and Transformative’ Unscripted Shows, Executives Reveal

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“Warm and transformative” was the buzz phrase at an Edinburgh TV Festival session on Tuesday with Daisy Lilley and Ben Kelly from the Netflix non-fiction team.

The executives used the phrase repeatedly while describing what program attributes they were looking for in order to commission.

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“It really is about just finding those ideas that feel warm and transformative, and maybe give you a fresh take on something,” said Lilley. “And that could be like how ‘Too Hot to Handle’ could be a fresh take on dating, you could say the same thing about ‘Nailed It’ as a fresh take on baking. So we’re not actually hemmed in by wanting particular genres; we always take ideas at face value, whether that might be property, food; we’re very happy to take pitches for everything. And it’s just about finding a unique spin on an idea that’s not sitting on any other platform.”

During the session, the executives revealed a winter debut for “Too Hot to Handle” season 3 and unveiled U.K. originals “Dance Monsters” and “Dated and Related.”

Though Netflix is known for its lavish budgets and epic shows, bigger is not always better. “We do get pitched from time to time what we will call scale for scale’s sake — bigger, better, more expensive, and that’s actually not what we’re looking for. We’re more than happy to be pitched small and inexpensive shows, as well as big broad ambitious shows as well,” said Kelly.

“Big doesn’t necessarily mean better, or more watched. I think our message to producers here would be come to us with shows of all scales, don’t come to us necessarily because you’ve got a cast of millions, because we’re drawn to shows of all shapes and sizes.”

Kelly also said they prefer to be pitched one idea that the creator is passionate about, rather than “a telephone book of top lines.”

The executives also echoed their scripted colleagues “U.K. out” approach to local programming where the focus was on serving U.K. subscribers first, but with a global outlook.

“There is a history of TV makers in this country who are conditioned to create formats that really travel, that become global ideas, global hits and clearly for us, that is the prize,” said Kelly.

The ideas that travel originate in many cases with local U.K. broadcasters like the BBC or Channel 4, before heading over to Netflix, as Channel 4 chief content officer Ian Katz said in another Edinburgh Tv Festival session on Tuesday.

“Our message really is that we’re open for business, we want producers to come to us with their best ideas first,” Kelly added.

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