Head of Documentary & Arts - Niamh O'Connor

Assistant Commissioning Editor Arts - Sarah Ryder

Updated: 23rd May 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. Factual documentaries will remain 'blue chip' and offer programming that takes a significant and considered approach to state of the nation issues and deliver with the highest possible production values. This is where Factual engages the RTÉ One audience with landmark output.

RTÉ Factual welcomes ideas for programmes to sit in our key slots, Sunday and Monday night @ 9.30pm. Highlights from 2015 included The Recruits 2 x 52: 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 x1. 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. In Collusion (feature length) - A landmark documentary which examined the extent of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and security forces which resulted in many murders throughout the NI Troubles. Death in Bolivia - The Michael Dwyer story This film was a personal journey into the heart of South America taken by Caroline Dwyer and her family to find out why and how her son, Michael, was shot dead by secret police in Bolivia in 2009, accused of being part of a plot to assassinate President Evo Morales.

A key objective of the factual department in 2016/2017 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:


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 and respected 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 2016/17. They are an observational documentary series based in the HSE also one in the Irish army as we follow their work in the Lebanon.

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 have one Landmark series commissioned for the Autumn 2016 - HSE IN A DAY , RTÉ is proposing an ambitious landmark series on how the HSE and its healthcare workers manage to overcome an enormous range of challenges every single day, in caring for our most precious resource: the health of our people.
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.


We have a number of 1916 commemorative documentaries commissioned for this year, The Enemy Files, Letters of 1916, 1916, Children of the revolution and Seven women.

We are not seeking any other 1916 related projects and our focus for History will be to find appropriate proposals to submit for BAI.

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: To a maximun of €130k

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'.




Assistant Commissioning Editor Arts - Sarah Ryder

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. A good example is Designing Ireland, a 4-part definitive overview of Irish architecture, design and craft, co-funded by RTÉ and the BAI, and commissioned to mark the Year of Irish Design.

. 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"


Format Farm

We are always looking for ideas that can be developed or commissioned for Format Farm. For more information on Format Farm please click here


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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