Factual television

Last updated

Factual television is a genre of non-fiction television programming that documents actual events and people. These types of programs are also described as observational documentary, fly on the wall, docudrama, and reality television. [1] The genre has existed in some form or another since the early years of television, although the term factual television has especially been used to describe programs produced since the 1990s. [2] The term is especially used in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.



Television programmes in this genre include COPS and Rescue 911 from the United States, Airport and Jamie's School Dinners from Great Britain, and Border Security: Australia's Front Line and Bondi Rescue from Australia. [3] These programmes tend to be more common in other countries than the United States due to differences in television scheduling patterns, as US networks schedule fewer hours on their own. [4] Factual programmes tend to be cost-effective compared to other formats. [5]

Prior to its launch, Variety referred to discovery+ as a "factual streamer". [5]


'Best Factual Series' has been a category at the British Academy Television Awards since 1973. [6] 'Most Popular Factual Series' and 'Most Outstanding Factual Series' were new categories introduced to the Australian Logie Awards in 2008 to cover this genre. [3] [7]

In September 2012 BBC Television's Top Gear series was officially named the Guinness World Records "Most Watched Factual TV Programme". As Jeremy Clarkson accepted the Guinness World Records 2013 book on behalf of the show he stated: "I am very proud to be involved in such a factual programme." [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Reality television is a genre of television programming that documents purportedly unscripted real-life situations, often starring unknown people rather than professional actors. Reality television emerged as a distinct genre in the early 1990s with shows such as The Real World, then achieved prominence in the early 2000s with the success of the series Survivor, Idols, and Big Brother, all of which became global franchises. Reality television shows tend to be interspersed with "confessionals", short interview segments in which cast members reflect on or provide context for the events being depicted on-screen; this is most commonly seen in American reality television. Competition-based reality shows typically feature gradual elimination of participants, either by a panel of judges, by the viewership of the show, or by the contestants themselves.

Discovery Channel is a Canadian specialty television channel owned by CTV Speciality Television Inc. (a joint venture between Bell Media/ESPN Inc. and Discovery, Inc.. The channel is devoted to nature, adventure, science and technology programming. The channel is headquartered at 9 Channel Nine Court in the Agincourt neighbourhood of Scarborough in Toronto, Ontario.

Logie Awards Annual Australian television awards

The Logie Awards is an annual gathering to celebrate Australian television, sponsored and organised by magazine TV Week, with the first ceremony in 1959, known then as the TV Week Awards, the awards are presented in 20 categories representing both public and industry voted awards.

The Rose d'Or is an international awards festival in entertainment broadcasting and programming. Eurovision first acquired the Rose d’Or in 1961, when it was created by Swiss Television in the lakeside city of Montreux. The awards stayed with Eurovision for almost 40 years. Eurovision re-acquired the awards in 2013 and successfully re-launched the event that year in Brussels, then relocated to Berlin from 2014 to 2018.

The BAFTA TV Awards, or British Academy Television Awards are presented in an annual award show hosted by the BAFTA. They have been awarded annually since 1955.

RPA was an Australian television documentary show that was filmed at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and showed the everyday workings of this major hospital in Sydney, Australia. Premiering in 1995, the programme is based on the British series Jimmy's which was filmed at St James's University Hospital in Leeds.

<i>Planet Earth</i> (2006 TV series) 2006 British nature documentary television series

Planet Earth is a 2006 British television series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Five years in the making, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC and also the first to be filmed in high definition. The series received multiple awards, including four Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and an award from the Royal Television Society.

<i>Meerkat Manor</i> British television series about a meerkat family

Meerkat Manor is a British television programme produced by Oxford Scientific Films that premiered in September 2005. Originally broadcast on Animal Planet International for four series, until its cancellation in August 2008, the programme had a revival in 2021 with the programme now known as Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty in some countries. Using traditional animal documentary style footage along with narration, the series told the story of the Whiskers, one of more than a dozen families of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert being studied as part of the Kalahari Meerkat Project, a long-term field study into the ecological causes and evolutionary consequences of the cooperative nature of meerkats. The original programme was narrated by Bill Nighy, with the narration redubbed by Mike Goldman for the Australian airings and Sean Astin for the American broadcasts. The fourth series, subtitled The Next Generation, saw Stockard Channing replacing Astin as the narrator in the American dubbing. In 2021, Nighy could be heard narrating the new series of Meerkat Manor when it was broadcast in the United States on BBC America and on Channel 5 in the United Kingdom, making it the first time that both television markets have used the same voice over on the programme.

ITV Studios Television production company

ITV Studios is a British multinational television production and distribution company owned by the British television broadcaster ITV plc. It handles production and distribution of programmes broadcast on the ITV network and third-party broadcasters, and is based in 12 countries across 60 production labels, with local production offices in the UK, US, Belgium, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Israel, France, Spain and Scandinavia.

Darren & Brose are Darren Chau and Brose Avard, two Australia-based comedy writers and performers who first met while studying media at La Trobe University. Chau had been working with the comedy ensemble Chop-Socky, while Avard had been producing and broadcasting on several Melbourne radio stations. They co-founded the Latrobe Media Group and produced comedy shows for the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Channel 31 and Network Ten's ONE.

The Primetime Emmy Awards are bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) in recognition of excellence in American primetime television programming. The award categories are divided into three classes: the regular Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards to honor technical and other similar behind-the-scenes achievements, and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards for recognizing significant contributions to the engineering and technological aspects of television. First given out in 1949, the award was originally referred to as simply the "Emmy Award" until the International Emmy Award and the Daytime Emmy Award were created in the early 1970s to expand the Emmy to other sectors of the television industry.

International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (IATAS) is an American nonprofit membership organization founded in 1969 to recognize excellence in television programming produced outside of the United States.

Stephen Lambert (media executive)

Stephen Lambert is an English television producer and executive who works in Britain and America. He launched the TV formats Wife Swap, Faking It, The Secret Millionaire, Undercover Boss and Gogglebox.

Discovery Velocity Canadian specialty TV channel

Discovery Velocity is a Canadian Category B specialty channel owned by CTV Specialty Television, a joint venture of Bell Media and Discovery, Inc. It is a Canadian version of the U.S. channel formerly of the same name, and broadcasts factual and reality-style series related to automobiles and transportation.

Thunderbird Entertainment Group is a Canadian publicly traded multi-platform entertainment company with offices in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Ottawa.

The AACTA Award for Best Reality Television Series is an award presented by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), a non-profit organisation whose aim is to "identify, award, promote and celebrate Australia's greatest achievements in film and television." The award is presented at the annual AACTA Awards, which hand out accolades for achievements in feature film, television, documentaries and short films. The award was first introduced in 2012, for the 2nd AACTA Awards in 2013, due to the growth of reality television productions in Australia. Reality television productions could previously be submitted in the Best Light Entertainment Series category.

Top Gear is a British motoring magazine and factual television programme, designed as a relaunched version of the original 1977 show of the same name by Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman for the BBC, and premiered on 20 October 2002. The programme focuses on the examination and reviewing of motor vehicles, primarily cars, though this was expanded upon after the broadcast of its earlier series to incorporate films featuring motoring-based challenges, special races, timed laps of notable cars, and celebrity timed laps on a course specially-designed for the relaunched programme. The programme drew acclaim for its visual and presentation style since its launch, which focused on being entertaining to viewers, as well as criticism over the controversial nature of its content. The programme was aired on BBC Two until it was moved to BBC One for its twenty-ninth series in 2020.

Argonon Television and digital media company

Argonon is an independent media group founded in 2011 by James Burstall, the CEO of Leopard Films, with offices in London, Los Angeles, New York, Liverpool, and Glasgow. Argonon was named the second biggest UK consolidator in the Broadcast Indie Survey 2021 and 7th in the overall list of consolidators.

The Logie for Most Popular Factual Program was an award presented annually at the Australian TV Week Logie Awards. It was given to recognise the popularity of an Australian factual program.

Monkey Kingdom is an independent British television production company based in London, United Kingdom, with offices in Los Angeles. Established by David Granger and Will Macdonald in 2000, the company was acquired by NBCUniversal International Networks in 2010. Monkey was NBC Universal's third UK production venture following the acquisition of Carnival and the launch of WTTV, NBC Universal's joint venture with Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.


  1. "Factual genres". Oxford Reference - Quick Reference. n.d.
  2. Bignell, J.; Orlebar, J. (2005). The Television Handbook. Routledge. p. 106. ISBN   9780415342520 . Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Most Popular Factual Program – The Logies Awards". Yahoo!7. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  4. White, Peter (6 April 2021). "Reality Week: Broadcast Nets Plot More Factual Formats As Softer Side Of Non-Scripted Genre Gets Spotlight". Deadline. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  5. 1 2 Clarke, Stewart (4 April 2019). "Discovery to Launch Global Factual Streamer by 2020 With BBC Content". Variety. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  6. "Focus on Factual". BAFTA. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  7. "ABC leads Logies assault". Brisbane Times. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  8. "Most widely viewed factual TV programme". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 29 December 2021.