What it takes to become a commissioner

Want to know what it takes to become a Commissioner? We spoke to Satmohan Panesar to find out... 


 I joined ITV Factual Commissioning team in June 2015 via the CDN & Creative Skillset Commissioner Development Programme. The programme is designed to broaden the diversity of TV commissioning by bringing in new voices and perspectives, and is targeted at experienced media professionals who are enthusiastic and committed to becoming content commissioners.

The factual entertainment department at ITV is responsible for a diverse slate of output, from formats like Long Lost Family, For The Love Of Dogs and Sugar Free Farm to observational documentaries like Heathrow and The Cruise.

I got my first opportunity in at Princess Productions, where I was fortunate enough to work on the first three series of The Friday Night Project. Continuing to focus on entertainment, I went on to work on shows such as Big Brother’s Little Brother and My Super Sweet. 

In 2011, I moved from production to factual development for companies including: Silver River, Betty, Watershed and most recently Boomerang. While at Silver River, I was part of the team responsible for developing the first of Nick and Margaret's BBC documentary series, The Town That Didn't Retire. At Betty, I helped develop the second Baker Brother’s series and Discovery’s Sex Hospital and at Boomerang had the documentary Million Pound Movers commissioned. 

A normal day in Commissioning is hugely varied, I can see up to 3 or 4 companies a day who will be pitching new ideas to our department. I oversee about 25 productions, all at various stages of production requiring meetings to discuss progress (anything from staffing up the team to casting contributors or securing presenter talent) or viewings (to watch the cuts that have been produced).

As a commissioner we are the lynch pin between all the various teams (e.g. marketing, scheduling etc.) and must make sure that we all work together to deliver brilliant content. Working as part of team, we all regularly meet to discuss new ideas, department needs as dictated by the schedule and the strategy for finding and delivering innovative and entertainment content.

Want to join the ITV Commissioning team?  You’ll need to be collaborative, we work in a creative industry where ideas need to be nurtured so work with people, from the production companies that come in to colleagues within ITV. We all want the same thing... brilliant programmes. You’ll need to be adaptable. things can change, and fast; so learn to react in positive way. See solutions not problems when things go wrong. And finally, be brave! TV needs brilliant ideas, so few come along. Take risks, fight for ideas and never forget to be a viewer yourself.