Development Researcher

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What does a development researcher do?

Development researchers are part of the team that comes up with the ideas for new TV programmes. As the most junior members, they are often relied upon to bring fresh ideas and be the voice of youth.

Development researchers are expected to spot new subjects or people that could make interesting TV. They research various topics and fact-check information. They may need to spend time on location to achieve this; for example, immersed in a group of people while developing a potential observational documentary.

They help the assistant producer with Skype interviews and location-filming of people who may appear in the show, like new experts or presenters. As they get more experienced, they edit these into small packages to show to the development producer. They also write well.

Development researchers work for production companies or broadcasters. They often work on several projects at once. These may be in different areas of programming (such as entertainment, sport, nature). They might also be asked to research what audiences enjoy about existing programmes to guide the development team into creating series that audiences want to watch. Or they might research what broadcasters are on the lookout for and what has recently been commissioned.

What’s a development researcher good at?

  • Ideas: have a creative and enquiring mind, be confident in expressing new ideas, brainstorming within a team and developing ideas further
  • Research: explore a range of subjects and people, back up research briefs with interesting and correct information, facts and figures
  • Communication: have an interest in people and good people skills. Be a good writer and able to condense vast amounts of information into a clear brief
  • Teamwork: respond to the needs of the development team, have reliability, adaptability, time management skills, the ability to meet deadlines
  • Knowledge of unscripted television: watch a wide range of programming in a variety of genres from a variety of sources.  Be aware of what rates well and any trends in popular subject areas

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