TP Talks To: Expectation’s Head of Development, Emily Dollman

This week we had a cuppa (and a laugh) with skyrocketingly successful indie Expectation’s Head of Development in Factual, Emily Dollman. She rather unwisely let us pick her brain about the weird and wonderful world of TV ideas generation, crazy pitching props and what not to say in an interview…

  • How did you get into the world of TV, and then development specifically?

I studied Broadcast Journalism at City University, and so went down the journalist route to begin with. I was working at Radio Five Live when I realised reporting really wasn’t for me, so pestered every production company in Britain to give me work experience, and eventually Tiger Aspect said yes. Those were the days where you worked for free when you were on work experience, so it was happy but hungry days!

  • What’s the most interesting & original concept you’ve watched on telly recently?

I think Sex Education on Netflix is brilliantly original: blending the nostalgia of the 80s in its setting and style with the present tense narratives of teenage sex problems is joyous. I like to look to drama for inspiration for non-scripted, both for concept but also style execution.

  • How has TV development changed since you started in the industry?

It’s far harder to get commissions now! Only kidding. But I do think the game has upped, especially with materials – tapes and treatments need to be super slick now to punch through. I think there’s also a recent nod back to traditional formats which went out of fashion for a while, and now with things like the return of Queer Eye, those features spaces are back in vogue. Which for a formatter like me is a dream!

  • What’s the best bit about your job?

Coming up with ideas. Hands down. Getting to brainstorm and talking about concepts gives me such a buzz, I love devising ideas and then working out the best way to convey and pitch the idea to a broadcaster.

  • It’s a fascinating time for TV at the moment. What we’re watching, the way we’re watching it… What trends do you predict for this year? And in five years time?

I don’t believe the scare mongering that linear TV is dead, I think we will always watch must see shows at the time they’re scheduled. But I am so excited by the scope of the new ways we can consume the TV landscape – it should be embraced into ideas from concept level – how we make our ideas more accessible for multi-platforms is a really exciting challenge.

  • What do you look for in a great development team member, at any level?

Good ideas is an obvious one but a must, reading the news and articles from lots of places not just The Guardian or The Daily Mail, and most importantly enthusiasm. The other thing is a love of telly. You’d be very surprised about the amount of people I interview who say they don’t actually watch TV!

Quickfire questions:

  • First ever paid job before TV?

I worked as a barmaid in a Frankenstein themed pub. No joke.

  • First ever paid job in TV?

The Home Show – a property programme on Channel 4.

  • Format you wish you’d come up with?

Faking It

  • Weirdest prop you’ve taken into a pitch?

I once got a billboard printed for an idea to show what the adverts would look like on the side of a bus.

  • Maddest idea you ever pitched?

I couldn’t possibly disclose that… it might still happen one day!

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