The BBC is to extend its 'watering hole' scheme - in which groups of different people are drafted in to help develop new shows - across further genres after a pilot scheme in the factual department was deemed a success.

The BBC is to extend its "watering hole" scheme - in which groups of different people are drafted in to help develop new shows - across further genres after a pilot scheme in the factual department was deemed a success.

The extension of the scheme, which has received mixed responses from those involved, comes on the back of the introduction of a new "audience planners" department which aims to give viewers a greater say in programmes ( Broadcast, 14.11.03).

"It is all about joined-up thinking," said director of television Jana Bennett. "Audience development and waterholes stimulate creativity. They are further sources of ideas."

"Watering holes" - originally created at the Stanford Research Institute in the US - see commissioners and executive producers developing ideas alongside up to a dozen people from a variety of different areas with a shared interest.

In the current system, pitches are judged only by channel and genre commissioners and ideas that often have had a lot of time and money spent developing them can still be dumped. The new initiative, which is only used on big ideas, was introduced into the factual department from the September commissioning round.