A few years ago, I pitched a TV show format together with a friend of mine at a festival in Barcelona. That means we were allowed to present our idea to television producers from all over Europe. The event was set up like a competition with a stage, audience and everything. Our idea was one of four. I think we came last. Afterwards, a few people from the audience came up to us and said that the project had been the best …(*)
I have to say, I didn’t understand for a long time why our idea wasn’t accepted, I think it really had the potential to move the world forward through television (and the internet).
A TV producer I hung out with a few months later at another festival explained it to me:
No matter what show is produced on TV, it always has an element, like a spice that must not be missing from any dish, a spice that every TV show tastes like. Anything without this element doesn’t stand a chance. Audience research has found beyond doubt that no show can succeed that doesn’t have this element. As beautiful as your project is, it lacks this element.
What is that element? I think it’s important that every time you watch a show on TV, or hear a conversation about a TV show, or read about a TV show, you should recite the following to yourself:
The viewer in front of the TV should always feel superior to those who are being paraded in the show.
I think everyone should know that, because it explains a lot. Not only in terms of television.
(*) …and way ahead of its time. I’ve been hearing that at regular intervals for twenty years. There’s probably some truth to it, but if that’s the case, then I can say from my experience that those who are too far ahead of their time don’t change anything 😉