Thursday, January 18, 2018

What Makes Must Watch TV

I was talking to some of FremantleMedia’s drama leaders and doing some reading / thinking about what makes compelling television nowadays – and there was lots of discussion around genre, format, location, style, story etc, but in the end it all came down (for me) to a great character.  Someone I couldn’t take my eyes off, someone I was intrigued by, mesmerised by – someone like Luther.

And business is like that too.  I love businesses with leaders who lead, who stimulate, challenge, who are flawed, human and generous.

Characters have Personality – as I figured out 50 years ago when the Headmaster expelled me from Lancaster Royal Grammar School – I explained it to Barbara, my best friend, that it was a personality problem.  I had one and he didn’t!!!

A TV character’s personality is based on:

·        Motivation:
They need / want / are hungry for something and spend their story trying to get that something.  We come to understand exactly what motivates them to be driven that way and understand that compulsion.

·        Vulnerability:
     They are human, worried, fearful of something.  And we feel for them.

·        Conflict:
     They must make hard choices.  We know what that’s like.

·        Connectivity:
     To us, to me, to the other characters.  Life is not an island.

·        Complexity:
     Layered, good, bad, and/and, multi-dimensional and multi-layered.

·        Strength:
     Big characters / leaders are impressively good at something – anything – that matters and sets them apart.

·        Weakness:
     And they must be flawed.  Just like all of us.

·        Emotion:
     They must feel and be seen to feel.

In fact, the more I thought about this, the more I thought a great TV character is developed the same way we develop a Brand to become a Lovemark.  By adding Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy to Respect and Trust.

A compelling character has a memorable name, a history with some mystery in it, some secrets, a look, a voice, a touch, and makes us want to know them, to feel for them and to join them.

Characters and Lovemarks are developed in the same way.  Who knew?