Beverley McGarvey: Why We’re Excited About Pilot Week

The story behind Pilot Week.

I started this week thoroughly excited.

We have been planning Pilot Week since late last year after we announced it at our Upfronts, and after countless pitches from all sectors of the industry, we finally had to draw the line and make some announcements. We could not wait to talk about our brand new shows.

Unfortunately, the response to our Pilot Week announcement was instead saddening, although I must admit Kitty Flanagan’s The Weekly sketch was very funny.

The reaction has been particularly disappointing for the many people involved in the shows we have announced, considering the dialogue at present has not addressed the fantastic effort on their behalf.

Our intent with Pilot Week was to commission bolder content. We planned to showcase programs we would normally be a little bit afraid to commit to, shows that would mostly play outside the 7.30pm time zone and skew a bit later in the evening, shows that would appeal to different audiences, and shows that would bring younger audiences to our platform.

We had so many innovative and witty ideas we ended up commissioning eight pilots, as opposed to the five initially planned.

In areas where women are under-represented, like narrative comedy, we actively spent time looking for female voices and, in fact, are fortunate to have found three amazing and clever concepts that are in active development. Narrative comedy, however, has a long lead time and those shows will not make it in time for Pilot Week in 2018. We did not mention this in the media release announcing our Pilot Week concept. It appears we probably should have.

We also should have provided some artwork to go with the shows that reveal their full casts, particularly for the ensemble shows. This is a mistake we will not make again.

It should also be noted that some of the people who have criticised the shows in Pilot Week were, in fact, offered roles on Pilot Week shows that they declined.

We consider the Pilot Week event in the broader context of our entire slate. We still have countless successful returning series to launch this year plus many new shows including two major entertainment series, Blind Date hosted by Julia Morris and Game Of Games hosted by Grant Denyer. We will also be launching the female-lead drama Playing for Keeps.

At Network TEN, I work in a leadership team of seven that includes four women. Half of the creative leads in the team I manage are women. Ten is absolutely packed full of amazing, creative, talented and experienced broadcasters and creatives, female and male, on and off-screen, including a lead female News presenter in every state.

When we are casting shows we absolutely do consider gender and diversity issues and we work hard to create a platform across our three linear channels and two digital platforms that is truly diverse.

Sixty-two percent of TEN’s audience is female, more than any other primary channel. We make a concerted effort to offer content that not only caters to this audience, but to all audiences, and we will continue to do that.

I remain extremely enthusiastic about Pilot Week, and I am proud and privileged to be working with so many great creatives of all genders and backgrounds on and off screen here at TEN and with our partners in the production community.

We will absolutely be bringing Pilot Week back next year.

Feature Image: The cast of Skit Happens