Head of Documentary & Arts (Acting) : Eddie Doyle

Updated: 20th December 2017


Great story-telling is at the heart of Factual TV: stories with layers beyond first glance, stories that explore issues beneath the surface of Irish life and Irish people today. RTÉ Factual is seeking to explore the ever-changing experience, diversity and complexity of modern life in Ireland, endeavouring to document the people and places that make Ireland what it is today.

Factual documentaries will remain 'blue chip' with the highest possible production values, and offering programming that takes a significant and considered approach to state of the nation issues interrogating the issues that affect and concern us all right now and deliver. Our focus is always on intelligent, accessible story-telling that both speaks to and engages an Irish audience.

RTÉ's documentary output is central to the organisation's public service remit, and strong storytelling and trusted storytellers are at the core of projects like The Crossing, Sugar Crash, Giles, and Keeping Ireland Alive, projects which have married high quality with strong impact. Like many traditional broadcasters, RTÉ now faces the challenge of attracting younger audiences to this content, and to find new ways of telling Ireland's story, which respond to the tastes and consumption patterns of viewers under 45.

RTÉ Factual welcomes ideas for programmes to sit in our key slots, Sunday and Monday night @ 9.30pm on RTÉ ONE, and post-watershed on RTÉ2.

Recent highlights included The Recruits: For the first time in its history the Irish Army gave exclusive permission to chronicle their work as they try to mould young men and women into soldiers. Hidden Impact - Concussion and Rugby. In this revealing documentary we went in search of answers to awkward and unpopular questions about the game of Rugby. Irelands Great Wealth Divide brought us the story of all those who made money in the recession, how they made it and how Irish society has been changes as a result. David McWilliams took you to the root of that unfairness and inequality, the one rule for us and another for them. Collusion examined the extent of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and security forces which resulted in many murders throughout the NI Troubles. Recent documentaries on Johnny Giles and Christy Dignam have provided engaging chronicles of high profile lives, which also marked period of dynamic change in Ireland's cultural and sporting life. And Too Old For The Road, we saw how the personal challenges for elderly drivers raised bigger questions about social isolation in Ireland, and how we treat our oldest citizens.

A key objective of the factual department in 2017/2018 is to build on the ability of the Factual Department to react to major events, both through the commissioning process and our in-house capabilities.

What we're looking for:

We are particularly interested in high impact one-offs and series that can play on either RTÉ ONE or RTÉ2, with a focus on pieces that can transmit in 2018. Proposals that feature new front-of-camera authors, and pieces that promise to draw in viewers under the age of 45 will be of particular interest.

Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis.


RTÉ Factual has a strong tradition of authored documentaries. The right author can bring complex ideas and analysis to a receptive Irish audience. On-screen Factual talent should either be experts in a particular field or high-profile, intelligent personalities willing to be immersed and challenged on a particular subject that they are passionate about.

We are looking for new stories and new expertise; charismatic and knowledgeable personalities willing to journey through areas of Irish life, culture and contemporary experience that we might not otherwise have had access to.

Observational documentaries

We are looking for compelling and innovative proposals for long-term observational and immersive documentary singles and series. We are particularly interested in hearing from companies who have already secured full access to institutions or organisations which are at the frontline of Irish life - anywhere where stories can be told that uncover or illustrate issues which are unfolding now in Ireland. We have a number of projects already in development/production for 2017/18.

Great stories - One offs and series

We want stories that take a significant and considered approach to state of the nation issues and delivers with the highest possible production values. We're are looking for cracking yarns with contemporary subjects and approaches, clearly-defined programmes with time and/or money clearly invested in them.

Documentaries that offer exceptional access to the most incredible situation, place, subject or story. Each story should be - indirectly or directly - a parable or statement about life in Ireland now most importantly, they should have a direct impact on the person: these are people stories, real-life situations which get at the big issues and which should impact on viewers in a visceral way. A good example of this was My Homeless Family - we want stories that get to the heart of what people are experiencing in Ireland today.


In 2018 and 2019 will be seeking to broadcast documentaries which mark the 100th anniversary of the first meeting of Dáil Éireann, and also the start of the War of Independence (one project on the 1918 Election in production).

Our focus for History will be to find appropriate proposals to submit for BAI, for the upcoming 30th round of Sound & Vision Funding.

In parallel we will be seeking documentaries which cover the 50th anniversary of the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and other contemporary historical pieces.

As always, the aim is to bring new audiences to history via strong stories, directors, new formats, fresh perspectives, and often passionate and informed on-screen authors. Is there an historical event or story that speaks beyond its time to Ireland today?

Budget range: €120,000 - €130,000 per hour (Maximum) for RTÉ One


Returnable Franchises for RTÉ 2

Factual is seeking new proposals to build on and broaden the recent slate of successful documentary output on RTÉ 2, ideally in the space of returnable franchises. The channel has recently carried a number of strong factual offerings, including The Guards, The Notorious Conor McGregor and Padraic Nally: After the Headlines. These programmes brought muscular storytelling skills to a range of intriguing characters, precincts, and themes. We are now looking for a series of new topics and stories, which can bring significant mainstream audiences to RTÉ 2.

Propositions that offer escapist or stirring stories will be of interest, along with other factual ideas, which say something important or powerful about contemporary life. One-offs will be considered, but we are particularly interested in propositions that can go to series, based on access to fascinating locations and/or charismatic characters.

Tonally, these can range from lighter factual, and colourful contemporary impulses - for example in the spheres of Property, Money, Relationships and Health - to more sober or gritty aspects of modern life - for example in the area of law enforcement, or public controversies.

Tonally, the aim of these commissions is to either offer dramatic documentary series with great story-telling and which have humanity at their heart, or to provide our audience with lighter more escapist and fun stories and formats which provide insight into life in modern Ireland and compliment what we offer on RTÉ ONE post-watershed.

Budget range: €80,000- €90,000 per hour (Maximum) for RTÉ2

We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:


under the programme category "Factual Sunday 21:30" & "Factual Monday 21:30"

*Please note budget ranges are indicative only, and proposals that can achieve lower costs per hour will be particularly attractive'.



Further to the recent call for ideas for Factual, we are interested in proposals on how Brexit will impact on Ireland. There is an opportunity to access co-funding from European partners, on this topic, for a one-off documentary to play on RTÉ ONE.

Editorially, we are interested in a variety of options, but ideally the programme will capture the core significance and impact of Brexit on Ireland. This can cover some or all of a number of areas - such as economics, politics, culture and identity.

In practical terms, the programme needs to lend itself to rebroadcast/revoicing for European transmission, so no front-of-camera talent/presenter/author will be required, and while the programme needs to capture the mood in contemporary Ireland, it needs to be compiled in a way that will be understood by European audiences. Budgets should be within the standard parameters.




Assistant Commissioning Editor Arts - Aifric Ní Chianain

RTÉ Television's mission for arts programmes is to grow audiences for and participation in the arts and to document and build a national archive of today's creative leaders for tomorrow. Most television arts output plays on RTÉ One, in peak-time slots: 7.30pm on Sunday, 8.30pm on Monday, 9.35pm on Monday and 10.15 on Thursday.
We invite independent production companies to submit ideas for high-impact peak-time arts series, events and formats that enable ordinary people to make, do and/or participate; landmark post-watershed arts series; ambitious anchor projects for themed seasons/weeks; and ideas for arts events or series to mark key moments and anniversaries. Specifically:

Pre-watershed arts formats. From amateur drama to singing, from painting to craft and design, we want to get the nation's creative juices flowing. We'd like ideas for participative, access-based formats or campaigns that RTÉ can support across TV, digital and radio - and which work for mass audiences in peak-time slots. We particularly welcome projects that involve partnerships with national organisations, arts institutions and networks.

Ideas for themed weeks, seasons and events. We'd love to do for the arts what Big Week On The Farm did for science. Can you think of a way to create a high-impact national cultural event that is big enough and impactful enough for RTÉ One to clear its schedule every night for a week? A national RTÉ-led cultural project, live event, experiment, challenge or celebration that will get the nation talking, sharing and taking part?

Post-watershed landmark arts series: big subjects, big ambitions, which bring (or have potential to bring) major co-funding to the table.

Authored arts documentaries and series where passionate, knowledgeable presenters open up the arts or Irish culture for a mainstream audience. The presenter has to have a deep knowledge of and passion for the subject. The credibility of the presenter, richness of content and freshness of perspective are key. A good recent example is A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof on WB Yeats, genuine passion-project for a presenter with a deep knowledge of his subject and a strong reason for wanting to make the programmes. We seek more innovative or landmark arts projects fronted by strong personalities with something fresh, provocative and insightful to say about Irish culture, music and heritage.

Anniversaries: is there an anniversary, celebration, national event or key national moment coming up that an arts series or event can mark or amplify in some way? We welcome arts-based ideas that help ordinary people to engage with major anniversaries and events.

Please note that, while standout single documentaries will always be commissioned, our in-house team is making up to 20 biographical arts documentaries a year, so the schedule is already well-served in terms of documenting the arts leaders of today, and tomorrow.

We very much welcome projects that involve partnerships between RTÉ and national cultural institutions or organisations. And, given that budgets are always a challenge, we also welcome projects that have the potential or scale to bring other sources of funding to the table. However, submissions will always be judged first and foremost on the quality of the idea and the content, and the potential of the project to engage audiences and/or create impact.

We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:
under the programme category "Arts - General"


Please note: The discussion of, or initial interest in, a proposal does not represent a commitment to commission by RTÉ and should not be understood as such.

Commissioning decisions will reflect the quality of proposals received and the scheduling priorities operating at the time. RTÉ's financial position will also be a factor.

Any proposals previously submitted to RTÉ in categories listed here, and which were rejected on a first reading in a previous Round, should not be re-submitted and will not be reconsidered.

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