Fiona Murch

Fiona Murch,is convinced that television should broadcast human rights films because people want to know what is happening around the world.

AO: You are on the jury this year and you’ve seen a lot of films. Were there any that you would have liked to commission or buy for your “Correspondent’” strand?

FM: There are a couple of films that I’ve seen that I would be proud to have on my strand. But because it is a current affairs strand, I would probably have liked to alter slightly the nature of the film, the structure.

AO: What is the profile of the programs that you commission, buy or co-produce?

I have 36 programs a year, 45-minute, single subjects, all foreign current affairs, and the strand is broadcast at 19.15 on Sundays. So it’s a very privileged position in a way.

What I look for is not just the situation in the country but some individual story that illustrates a bigger picture. Because one thing that I’ve learned is that it is not good enough just to show people things/situations; they have to be entertained. And a way to get them is by what I call a Shakespearean theme, a universal theme. What I call universal is love, hate, death, illness – all these things – and if you can build a narrative attention into something, then you have to entertain as well as inform. It is vital. People don’t watch anymore unless they want to know what happens.

AO: So are you looking for character-borne stories with an individual approach?

FM: Well, yes. I mean, not just interesting filming styles, but also something that can make the audience connect. And an easy way to make them connect is via a character, an individual. But sometimes an investigation will hold them.

What we discovered is that audiences don’t like to watch issues that don’t give results. What they want is the bad guys to get caught in the end. And it’s nice when you can do that, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

We just broadcast a film about a pedophile priest in Ireland. He was protected by his bishop, and in the end of the film we went to challenge the bishop on behalf of the victims. And the bishop just ran away; he ran into his palace and shut the door. The film was broadcast in Ireland two weeks ago and the bishop has resigned. So there is a result.

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