Head of Documentary & Arts - Niamh O'Connor
Assistant Commissioning Editor Arts - Sarah Ryder

UPDATED: Tuesday 18th March 2014



Contemporary factual content seeks to explore the ever-changing experience, diversity and complexity of modern life in Ireland. We document the people and places that make Ireland what it is today, as well as interrogating the issues that affect and concern us all right now. We strive to commission intelligent, provocative content and a range of approaches including landmark, observational documentary and authored documentaries who take us on a journey of significance. Factual Programmes occupy key slots in the schedule and remain a core part of our Public Service output. We are committed to preserving the strong reputation for serious journalism, making the stories accessible and engaging and commissioning authoritative bold and innovative documentaries, produced to the highest standard. Our programmes need to spark debate, inform and entertain.



In 2012/2013 RTÉ Factual delivered a broad range of high impact documentaries. Landmark documentaries that delivered in terms of audience and in sparking National Debate were, LIFE ON THE INSIDE: filmed over the course of a year, this two-part documentary series entered two Irish prisons and explored life behind bars through the eyes of the prisoners and of the prison officers. In the making of this series Midas Productions secured unprecedented access within Wheatfield and Shelton Abbey prisons which allows us, for the first time on Irish television, to show the reality of 'life on the inside'. It rated extremely well with the first episode achieving 34% share and 548,000 viewers.

INSIDE IRISH NATIONWIDE: saw journalist Richard Curran investigate what happened inside Irish Nationwide. Featuring new interviews with key people working at all levels of the society, new information on the lending practices of the building society; we revealed how a small Irish building society went far beyond its competencies and ultimately resulted in enormous losses. This rated well and had impact beyond the documentary, setting a news agendas for the following days.Other observational documentaries that caught the public attention with timely consumer and economic focus included: Life and Debt (427,000 viewers; 31.62% share); Too Broke to Retire (412,600 viewers; 28.56% share), Inside the Department brought us where we have never been before: to the very heart of political power. With unprecedented media access to Minister for Education & Skills Ruair­ Quinn and his team of advisors and civil servants and finally THE DISAPPEARED AN RTE/BBCNI co-production that investigated those who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during Northern Ireland's Troubles. This documentary had huge impact and again set the news agenda for the days following the broadcast.


Monday @ 9.30pm

We are fully commissioned for this slot in 2014, however, we have many available slots for the 2015 schedule. While one-off documentaries have proved extremely successful in this slot, we hope to bring at least one long running series to the 2015 schedule. Our priority for these slots is to build the 30-40 age groups, target key demographics/interest areas within that grouping. Deliver Strong Factual Public Service messages, Develop popular factual formats. Big Observational Documentaries: fixed rig or embedded DV crewing filmed over a year.

We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:
under the programme category Factual "2015 - Monday @ 9.30"


What we're looking for:

Authored documentaries: 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: 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 commissioned/developed for 2014: They are a series based in a Women's prison, a series in Ireland's head probation office and a series set in one of Ireland's busiest welfare office. We are willing to fund bold statement factual here from fixed rig to other innovations. Develop popular factual formats A factual format like Secret Millionaire can make an impact with strong story, depth and insight. What are your ideas for new returnable Irish factual formats that can bring a structured narrative to bear on important human stories? We would like develop a number of proposals in this area for potential TX in 2015. REACTIVE A key objective of the factual department in 2012/2013 was to build on the ability of the Factual Department to react to major events, both through the commissioning process and our in-house capabilities. We have achieved this and want to build on it. Successful reactive documentaries in 2012 were, Life and Debt, Pension Shock," Ireland outside the Euro" and Inside court no5, the Michaela McAreavey court case.


Contestable slots RTE 1 - pre-watershed

Sunday 20.30 6x30 54k per ep

Sunday 20.30 6x30 58k per ep

Tuesday 19.00 6x30 48kper ep

Thursday 20.30 6x30 54kper ep

Tuesday 21.35 - 4x30 35k per ep

RTÉ Factual is looking for vibrant observational and innovative pre-watershed strands. Ideally series would consist of six episodes and contain strong storylines that can compete for audiences with the soaps. They could be a lighter but insightful slice of current Irish life here or abroad like our successful Truckers & Communion Day series.

They could take place behind the scenes of an everyday location brought to life. There is also the potential to carve oral or social histories that contextualise local stories using great casting and archive. Successful Factual examples have included: Disasters, Rescue, Hostages, The Way We Worked and On the Street Where You Live.

We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:
under the programme category Factual "Contestable slots RTÉ 1 - Pre-Watershed"


RTE Arts

The arts on television will move centre-stage in 2014 and beyond, so we are looking mainly for big-idea pre-watershed arts series that will play in pre-watershed evening slots and appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Our mission over the next year is to build audiences for the arts by supplementing our post-watershed arts output with more pre-watershed arts. We are currently looking for imaginative ideas for 6 X 30" arts series that engage the public with Irish culture or a particular artform. Series such as CraftMaster and Instrumental have done this very successfully over the past few years - and now we are looking for new, pre-watershed formats and ideas with the arts at their core. We welcome ideas that have the potential to use RTE resources cleverly (TV, radio, online, our performing groups) to amplify their message and engage as wide an audience as possible. We are also open to strong, populist formats that tie in to or build up to a national arts event in 2014. Please note, however, that observational series do not work in early-evening slots. We would encourage production companies to come to us instead with ideas that encourage participation in the arts, whether that is participation on screen, or by highlighting a particular artform through campaign, activity, outreach or by just being enjoyable to watch. The series should be fun, entertaining, but content rich, and will be broadcast early evening so must appeal to a broad, soap-avoider audience.

Post-watershed documentary slots for TV Arts are already fully allocated in 2014, but we are happy to develop ideas that will come to fruition in 2015 and beyond. Single documentary should, where possible, come with a co-pro partner or funding attached. We want to prioritise Big Idea, landmark arts series and events which could play in post-watershed slots in late 2014 and beyond. Again, ideas that can benefit from external funding or co-production will be particularly welcomed.


RTE 2 - REALITY BITES 6x60 contestable

Post Watershed 2014

Fact Ent Popular documentary series providing a non judgemental slice of life.

Looking for interesting characters and grabby stories which will engage 15 - 34s. While one off Reality Bites docs will continue there will be an increased emphasis on mini-series such as Maia Dunphy's What Women Want.

We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:
under the programme category Factual "Contestable slots RTÉ 2 - Reality Bites"


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.

RTÉ 2014
Terms & Conditions