Editor Religious Programmes: Roger Childs

RTÉ Religious Programmes

Opportunities for commissioning Religious Programmes in 2015-16 are certainly limited, but not non-existent.

Other commissioned output must either meet the briefs and scheduling / budgeting requirements of RTÉ One's and RTÉ2's contestable slots or have demonstrable potential to attract third party funding. In either case, commissioned output must broaden and enrich the existing Religious slate, whose main elements are as currently follows:-

Would You Believe? (Ireland's longest-running documentary series covers a broad range of religious and spiritual subjects, using a variety of narrative styles and approaches, from profiles to observational documentaries to investigations.)

The Meaning of Life, with Gay Byrne (one-to-one interviews with a broad range of public figures about the way life shapes, and is shaped by, their beliefs and moral values.)

Joe Duffy's Spirit Level (a magazine series, with accessible interviews, features, music and discussion on contemporary spiritual and ethical themes.)

The Moment of Truth (Blathnaid ní Chofaigh explores the context and consequences of life-changing religious, ethical and social choices through one-to-one interviews.)

Beyond Belief (Mick Peelo's occasional series of studio-based discussions explores the interface between religion and current affairs.)

Worship (weekly Christian Masses and Services, plus Christmas and Easter ceremonies)

Festivals (marking and exploring a variety of minority faith festivals, plus our annual Christmas Carols programme.)

iWitness (short, nightly reflections that attempt to capture "the spirit of Ireland, one voice and one minute at a time.)



Most of our in-house output has a contemporary Irish outlook. So, what are the stories and subjects which could add historical context and depth to that? Recent successes in this area include The Radharc Squad, One Million Dubliners and, in production at the moment, Columbanus: The First European. The challenge is always to make history seem contemporary, relevant and accessible, without dumbing down.

As well as classic documentary, we would welcome other creative and original approaches to the subject: perhaps archive-based or constructed reality formats, which allow audiences to experience, connect with or learn from the past, and to understand what has changed and why.

One-off docs and short series shedding new light on familiar stories or revealing intriguing new stories from the past. Recent output has included On God's Mission, which explored the story and legacy of the Irish Catholic missionary movement; Lifers, which brought this story up to date; A Parting Gift, which made full and compelling use of unique access to Trinity College Dublin's body donation programme; and Guess Who's Dead, which offered a charming and affectionate exploration of Ireland's love affair with death notices.

Now is an interesting time to take stock of the changing position of the Catholic Church in Irish society and beyond. But also, please think beyond Catholicism: from Quakers to Bahais, from the Orange Order to Pagans, we are open to proposals and stories which explain the nature and impact of faith in Ireland in fresh and engaging ways.

And what about the history of ideas? At a time when Science and Religion are trying to decide whether they are opposites or partners, we would welcome proposals which bring that complex and combustible relationship to life on television in a way that engages and informs a mainstream RTÉ audience.
Whatever the subject, the approach must be both authoritative and entertaining. Religion should not be po-faced. Be clear what you're trying to say and find creative, compelling ways to say it.


Think RICE: we need programmes which Reflect, Interrogate, Celebrate and Explain the beliefs, practices and identities of Ireland's minority faith communities through strong, engaging stories and characters. As a guideline, please don't treat minority issues as minority interest issues. We are a broadcaster, not a narrowcaster.

Look for ways in which various religious outlooks offer a different perspective on familiar subjects (education, health, births, marriages, deaths). Don't patronise; don't wear kid gloves. Do respect; do ask hard questions, then think of ways of bringing the answers entertainingly to light.

Also, see commissioning opportunities available under "Regional & Diversity": http://www.rte.ie/commissioning/rteregional_and_diversity.html


When different moral and religious outlooks rub shoulders in a diverse and changing society, there can be conflict, creativity or confusion. Who's right? Who's wrong? And how do we know?

On subjects as diverse as faith schooling, adoption, abortion, fertility treatment, euthanasia, genetics, marriage, sex and sexuality, important ethical and religious debates are currently taking place. How best can we bring these to television in ways which inform, challenge and entertain a mainstream audience? And what about the ethical challenges we will face in the future. What are they and how will we meet them?

We particularly welcome ideas that make creative use of formats to engage younger audiences and the "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual" generation in energetic and informed ethical debate.


As well as looking for possible co-production partners, you may wish to look for funding from other sources. Each will have its own funding and commissioning criteria, which must be studied carefully, alongside RTÉ's . Please talk to Roger Childs, Head of RTÉ Religious Programmes before approaching these or other bodies about AFP or co-production possibilities.

The BAI Sound & Vision Fund (http://www.bai.ie/index.php/funding-sectoral-support/sound-vision/ );

Jerusalem Productions (http://www.jerusalemproductions.org.uk/tvguidelines.html);

The Northern Ireland Screen Irish Language Broadcasting Fund
( http://www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk/categories/7/ilbf.aspx ) and Ulster Scots Broadcast Fund (http://www.northernirelandscreen.co.uk/categories/95/ulster-scots-broadcast-fund.aspx);

The Simon Cumbers Media Fund (www.simoncumbersmediafund.ie/ );

The Wellcome Trust (http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/Funding/Public-engagement/Funding-schemes/Broadcast-Development-Awards/index.htm);

The Templeton Foundation (http://www.templeton.org/what-we-fund/core-funding-areas/) .

Creative Europe TV Funding ( https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/creative-europe/actions/media/tv-programming_en .


We ask, in the first instance, that producers submit ideas into the eCommissioning system:
under the programme category "Religion Genreal"


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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