Discovery’s Elizabeth McIntyre reveals her commissioning wishlist

What’s your most recent commission and why?

A new survival series with Ed Stafford, produced by Tigress Productions. In Naked And Marooned – Ed’s last series and a fantastic global success – he wanted to push himself to the limit, experimenting with ways to survive with absolutely nothing on a desert island. He now wants to see if he can survive alone in other extreme environments – places that may look like paradise, but hold hidden dangers. Ed encapsulates the heart of Discovery’s editorial values – he’s authentic, risktaking and pushes the boundaries.

How much has the programme changed from what was initially pitched?

The show has stayed true to its original concept. The idea’s authenticity and simplicity is key: ex-military Ed has a passion to know how he’s able not just to survive, but to thrive in high-risk locations.

What was it that grabbed you?

The show was born of a personal ambition of Ed’s, making it all the more authentic.

What would you like more of?

We are always looking for long-running returnable series to air globally, and commissions aimed solely at the UK market. Either character-led (talent with expertise) ultra-real adventure/endurance or new pop science formats.

What’s a definite no for you?

While there is a definite place for brand-defining specials such as Shackleton: Death Or Glory, it’s best to pitch series – for example, The World’s Biggest Ship, which is currently airing on Quest.

What’s the best line you’ve heard in a pitch?

“I love your American Pickers.”

What’s the worst line you’ve heard in a pitch?

“I could do with being talked through some of the shows on Discovery.”

What’s your riskiest commission and why?

Pop science formats aimed at bringing in a younger audience around the globe while retaining the core 35-45 audience – such as What Happened Next? (Twofour) and You Have Been Warned (October Films) – which combine entertainment and specialist factual. These shows have proven to drive ratings in all of our international markets.

What is the most important lesson life as a commissioner has taught you?

Producer relationships are at the heart of everything.

How quickly do you aim to respond to an idea?

Within a week.

Who has final sign-off?

Julian Bellamy, creative director and head of production and development for Discovery Networks International.

How should producers pitch to you?

Producers should feel free to contact me via email in the first instance. I will happily schedule a follow-up meeting as necessary.

What’s your top pitching tip for producers?

Be able to summarise in a couple of lines what your show is about, and bring tape of talent.