Nudity, knitting lead factual entertainment trends

Nudity and knitting appear to be amongst the hot new trends for factual entertainment, it has been revealed at AIDC’s rebranded conference ‘Net – Work – Play.’

The revelation came from Editorial Director of the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers (WCSFP), Alison Leigh, this morning in her presentation “What’s the Buzz?”

Over the course of an hour Leigh had AIDC attendees in turns amused, disgusted and shaking their heads as she ran through global trends of factual entertainment, including one humourous section titled ‘Meanwhile, in Norway.”

Trends include presenters who favour a gonzo style of journalism (Michael Mosley’s willingness to infect himself with various parasites for BBC Four’s Infested! Living with Parasites was toted as an example), with another big movement being social experiments.

Examples included a worrying revamp of the 1960s Stanford Prison Experiment and another which sees presenter and homosexual Dr Christian Jessen go undercover to investigate and undertake controversial gay 'cures' in the UK and the USA.

Live shows also proved popular as well as a demand for authenticity. Leigh gave the example of National Geographic’s Live From Space as a good example of a show that embodied both these things. “There’s nothing more authentic than something that is live and unedited and [Live From Space] is a very good example of that,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Norway….

“They have created the strangest genre, called Slsow TV,” says Leigh. “A hugely popular show involved nine hours live of knitting. They had the majority audience share. Maybe audiences are fed up with over produced content, who knows.”

Nudity is popular worldwide, with Leigh noting “if there’s any program you can think of involving nudity, you can get it made. It’s moved into real estate and dating shows such as Adam Looking for Eve.”

New technology is also opening up opportunities to shine light on old topics (for example, D-Day’s Sunken Secrets sees cutting-edge technology assist a team in locating sunken war ships from World War Two) as well as social media and web offerings increasing substantially increasing opportunity to develop more content.

“More than ever, it’s web meets TV, especially for science programs,” says Leigh. “We are hearing a lot about online channels and audiences. Gross Science is an online web channel that performs very well.

“There are lots of programs in China launching on the internet.”

Another popular trend moves into the natural history space, where people’s relationships with animals, or animals relationships with other animals (the stranger, the better) are proving to be high in demand. Leigh lists the award winning Australian documentary Shark Girl as an example.

Finally (and bizarrely), Leigh pointed to the emerging trend of factual musicals. Our Gay Wedding: The Musical for Channel 4 in the UK was an example given; being the documentation of the real life same sex marriage between two British men, only filmed as a musical.

“The thing is that they are not actors, they are exploring real stories of real people with music,” she says.
Net-Work-Play is held in Adelaide and will conclude at close of business on Wednesday, 25 February.