Factual Development and Production



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It’s an exciting time to be working in factual television! Factual programmes are at the heart of the UK television schedules, whether it’s The Great British Bake-Off, GP's Behind Closed Doors or Gogglebox.

I’ve gone from working in a pub to working for one of the largest, most prestigious broadcasters on the planet, doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do.” Graduate George Richardson

The market for factual programmes has never been more diverse - be it the multitude of available platforms for factual content, the range of form and content, or the new opportunities and initiatives for talent of all kinds. 

The Factual Development and Production Diploma is a year-long, part-time blended learning diploma, which seeks to capture the dynamism of mainstream factual television in 2022 and provide you with the skills you need to make your own professional contribution to it.

Learning from industry professionals, including channel commissioners and top producers in production and development, this course plots the evolution of factual programmes from the initial idea to transmission and beyond.

The Factual Development and Production Diploma has been supported by Discovery since its launch in 2014 and, each year, the course culminates with the students pitching an idea for a Discovery series to a Discovery commissioner. The winning pitch is optioned by the channel, securing £5,000 for further development and the support of a Discovery executive producer. 

This course is currently in its eighth year and many former students are now successfully working in the industry in senior positions. 

All NFTS students can attend Masterclasses. Recent guests include David Fincher (Fight Club), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Ben Wheatley (Free Fire), Rapman (Blue Story), Louis Theroux, Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Sam Mendes (1917), Asif Kapadia (Senna), Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), and Russell T Davies (Doctor Who).

If you want to know how mainstream factual programmes are developed, commissioned and produced today, then this is the course for you.

Successful applicants will be invited to apply for the Discovery Networks International scholarship.

Recent credits and successes

Justin mage

“I came to NFTS with no experience and a long-held dream to work in Television. The team are supportive, understanding and experienced and just want you to succeed. Through the course I made valuable connections with industry experts and completed work experience with ITV, which led to paid roles on live shows, studio productions and commercials. I now feel ready for the opportunities that will come my way.” Justin is now working on Cactus TV’s Saturday Kitchen and doing ad hoc work for ITV Daytime.

Aaron image

“I began the Factual Development Diploma with zero experience in television. A few months later and I'm now a Researcher on one of Discovery Inc's biggest shows, Salvage Hunters and have developed my contacts with a variety of experienced producers, top commissioners and independent CEO’s.”

What you will study

The curriculum has a specific focus on programme development - on brainstorming ideas, writing proposals/creating decks, producing sizzles, pitching to commissioners - and embraces all kinds of factual programmes: from low-cost, high volume daytime formats to premium peak-time series.

This blended learning course is delivered from the NFTS hubs in London and Cardiff, but is available to students across the UK and features a stimulating combination of weekly online sessions and occasional in-person workshops (including a 2-day camera course). Across the year, students are required to complete six assignments.

The course is made up of a number of modules and workshops, participants learn by ‘doing’ as well as understanding theory and developing a variety of practical and creative skills. 

Download course outline (PDF)

Course Leader

The course is run by Simon Broadley, who has more than 25 years’ experience in broadcast television, working for a variety of broadcasters and production companies including BBC, ITV, STV, IMG, MTV, Sky, September Films and Hotbed Media. 

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home/EU/EEA £6,000 

These are the fees for January 2022 intake. Fees for January 2023 will be confirmed in June.

This course is only open to UK applicants and EU/EEA applicants must hold an EU settlement status.

A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place.

Students are expected to provide their own laptops.


Entry requirements

You do not need to work in television or have a formal qualification to apply for this Diploma, but you must be able to demonstrate a genuine passion for, and informed interest in, factual television. 

If you are an EEA or International citizen, you must already be in possession of EU settled/pre-settled status or another visa which allows you to study for the duration of the course. If you do not already hold a UK status, unfortunately we cannot accept your application as we are currently unable to support a visa on our Diploma courses.

If you have any questions, please email info@nfts.co.uk.

How to apply

Application deadline: 07 Jul 2022

Applicants must complete the online application form and submit the following supporting materials:

  • An idea for a factual television series, no more than 500 words max.
  • A review of a factual development programme that you have recently watched and enjoyed. Explain why you think it was a success. 500 words max.

You can apply online by clicking on BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION below. We are happy to receive applications at any time up until the midnight of the application deadline date.

Begin your application