Research skills for TV

The Secret History of our Streets' Jaime Taylor, history researcher Mark Edger and The One Show's Charlotte Denton join Sophie Lording to discuss the importance of sources, stories and keeping notes.

Whichever area of the industry you're in, the ability to research and tell stories is essential, but to get ahead of the rest it's going to take more than a few clicks on a search engine to find the very best material. So, how do you find that surprising fact, that unexpected contributor or winning story that will make your programme unique? Our panel offer their views on how a researcher can make the best of his or her time and on the resources available to get the best for their programmes. 

"As a researcher, you can never ask too many questions." – Charlotte Denton

Top of the list is an ability and willingness to speak to people. Rather than staying stuck behind a screen and relying on sometimes dubious facts from the internet, the panel stress the importance of making connections with people, whether they are academics, experts or ordinary members of the public, and the many channels now available to help them make immediate contact.

They also discuss the best resources they have used, the best ways to keep track of the mammoth amounts of information and the different planning required when working on long form factual series as well as fast turnaround shows. 

Jaime Taylor is a freelance documentary maker and assistant producer on the acclaimed social history series The Secret History of Our Streets. She is also co-founding director of award winning film collective Postcode Films, whose documentaries explore the relationship between place and identity.

Mark Edger is a science and history researcher who has worked on series including Bang Goes the Theory, The Culture ShowGreat Excavations and the forthcoming documentary on Thomas Cromwell for BBC Two

Charlotte Denton has worked on entertainment and factual programmes including The Pride of Britain Awards and Britain’s Best Dish. She's currently a topical researcher for The One Show.