Section 17: Interacting with our Audiences

Talent Shows and Programmes Offering Life-Changing Opportunities

Jump to

  1. Selection of Contestants
  2. Care of Contestants
  3. Fairness
  4. Children in Talent Shows


In addition to the Editorial Guidelines, there is also detailed guidance in this area and a mandatory approvals process.

(See Guidance: Talent Shows)



The BBC may enter into editorially appropriate agreements with a suitable third party to offer winning contestants an opportunity or chance of a lifetime that the BBC alone could not deliver.  For example a third party may be able to offer a specialist career opportunity, an investment into a start up business, or a performance-based opportunity such as a concert or recording contract or chance to appear in a professional production on stage or film.

In all such cases the BBC must maintain editorial control and be able to demonstrate that it has put in place suitable processes to maintain editorial control.  The choice of partner must be editorially justifiable and the relationship should not bring into question the BBC's impartiality or integrity.



The acceptance of donated career or life-changing opportunities must be referred to Editorial Policy at an early stage and, on BBC public service channels, must conform to the Framework for Funding Prizes and Awards.

(See Appendix 4 online: Framework for Funding Prizes and Awards)

A series of measures to ensure there is no undue promotion on air must be agreed with Editorial Policy at the planning stages.


For BBC publicly funded channels, it is essential that no monies from the third party go into the production budget.

(See Section 16 External Relationships and Funding)


Selection of Contestants


Contestants may often need to have specialist skills and may be recruited from a variety of sources.  Often such contestants may appear on air for many weeks and receive considerable exposure.

Care should be taken to ensure that the background of prospective contestants is carefully checked before final selection is made, to ensure suitability to appear in BBC content.  It is important to consider factors such as their ability to withstand the pressure of a competitive and sometimes live format, as well as previous criminal convictions or other matters which could bring the BBC into disrepute.


Care of Contestants


At the outset, contestants may not appreciate the life-changing impact of appearing in programmes of this nature.  Processes should be put in place to ensure they are appropriately briefed, prepared and supported.

Particular support may be needed if the series is likely to attract considerable press and marketing attention.




All contestants must be treated honestly and fairly at all times and appropriate steps should be taken to ensure they understand and appreciate the criteria which will be used to judge them.

Contestants should be given copies of the specific terms and conditions governing their participation.  The penalties for cheating must be clearly outlined.  This is even more important when a show involves an audience vote.

(See Section 6 Fairness, Contributors and Consent: 6.4.1- 6.4.9)


Children in Talent Shows


There are specific issues to consider when working with children in the context of a talent show, particularly if the output is to be broadcast live.

(See Section 9 Children and Young People as Contributors: 9.4.12 - 9.4.13)

(See Guidance: Talent Shows and Working with Children and Young People)


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