Following on from the success of The TV Collective dinner with Channel 4’s Alex Mahon; last week Channel 5’s Director of Programmes Ben Frow and members of his  commissioning team – Guy Davies, Adrian Padmore and new addition to the team Denise Seneviratne join more than 20 senior BAME production talent. Over a scrumptious meal, in luxurious surrounding we discussed commissioning and business opportunities with the Channel.

The event was held at Gordon Ramsey’s prestigious Camden restaurant the York and Albany, which laid on a delicious menu that included sea bream, and roasted cauliflower and artichoke on a bed of couscous, followed by a mouth-watering champagne sorbet and chocolate cake.

There was a range of senior executives sitting around the table including Twenty Twenty’s Director of Programmes Maxine Watson, former Head of BBC Religion Aaqil Ahmed, Creative Director at Agatha Christie Basi Akpabio, Douglas Road newly appointed MD Angela Ferreira and of course me.

Under Frow’s guidance, Channel 5 has seen an upturn in its fortunes with a raft of hit Factual programmes and some big names drawn to the channel including Jeremy Paxman and Michael Palin. Last year The channel was awarded its first-ever Bafta with “Cruising with Jane MacDonald,” and was also named as Channel of the Year.

Despite its success, the broadcaster is keen not to rest on its laurels and wants to continue to build on that success.

Ben Frow explained “…we want programmes that are engaging, intelligent, well made and have a relevance to the viewer.”

Guy Davies was particularly looking for “Reputational one-offs which reinforce our commitment with first class talent and could fall within our new ‘Modern Britain’ occasional strand. Recent successes here include ‘The Accused’ and ‘Slum Britain: 50 Years On’.”

Adrian Padmore said he wanted, “Ambitious observational documentary series that offer a unique view of modern Britain. Surprising characters, clever storylines and territories that feel connected to the way we really live today”.

TV Collective Founder and Director Simone Pennant MBE steered the conversation, with Diversity very much on the agenda. There was lots of advice on offer. “Know our audience” the executives advised, “understand our tone and where we are coming from.”

With so many tasty titbits of information (and food) to take in over the course of the meal, all that’s now needed is for producers to “listen and learn,” in Frow’s words, before submitting that all important idea and pitch.

What guests said…

“Meeting Ben and Adrian, has not only given me clear insights and understanding about channel 5’s programming needs but I honestly feel I can approach them now.”

“The dinner has truly changed my negative opinion about the murky world of commissioning and to Ben’s credit, they are crystal clear about what they do and don’t want.

Refreshingly straightforward. Of course, private dining room with Gordon Ramsay tasting was appreciated in showing us they genuinely care about BAME content makers. Simone asked pertinent questions to ensure we were included.” Riffi Khan, Creative Director or Riffi Media

“I thought Ben and his team were refreshingly direct as well as informative” Maxine Watson – Director of Programming at Twenty Twenty Television

“REALLY enjoyed the event – great to find out more about Five and catch up with others” Basi Akpabio, Creative Director at Agatha Christie Ltd 

“Thanks for organising another great networking meal on Thursday night. I found the evening very productive and I hope that some good things will happen as a result of the connections made”. Ian Watts DOP

TV Collective Diners Club continues with another industry get together in the spring.