UKTV’s Cherie Hall on Programming Strategy for Dave


Amid the UKTV bouquet, Dave has stood out with its veritable feast of UKTV Original comedy hits from some of the biggest stars in the U.K. The programming slate is diversifying, though, as Cherie Hall, Dave’s channel director, tells World Screen.

WS: How has Dave been performing over the last year or so? 
Dave’s standing proud with a share that rose for a second consecutive year in 2021 to its highest yearly share in five years (1.11 percent, up 2 percent year on year). We’re constantly building momentum as the home of the funniest homegrown comedy, with Originals making up four of the top five rating shows, including Meet the Richardsons and Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable. We’re also expanding our digital remit, with YouTube original content being produced alongside our linear channels and streaming service, UKTV Play. We’ve seen huge social growth and have launched several Dave podcasts this year, with Hypothetical The Podcast currently sitting just shy of 1 million downloads. Our aim is to make sure our audience can always count on us, so we make sure Dave is always present where you need it: on your commute home, picking up your day with a podcast or laughing in front of some TV on an evening.

WS: Tell me about the mix of acquired and commissioned content on Dave.
Both are vital to the strength of the channel. Acquisitions give us a global voice, often in volume, and work seamlessly across the schedule—daytime, peak and on our streaming service UKTV Play. Whereas our commissions are expertly crafted with the best talent in the business to work especially hard for a younger target audience in peak and in digital, bringing the Dave tone of voice to life in a bigger way. The noise that we generate drives press interest, awards and critical acclaim.

WS: In terms of commissions, what defines a Dave original?
HALL: A Dave original needs to do four things: it needs to be memorable, accessible, able to connect with its audience and be able to give viewers a boost. We know our audience is heavily influenced by word of mouth and talent when it comes to choosing what to watch, so asking ourselves, What’s going to make this audience notice this show and talk about it? is central. We want our shows to connect with audiences in a human way (we’re not just called Dave for the fun of it!), and our shows should always make you feel better—whatever the genre, a Dave show shouldn’t leave you feeling miserable.

WS: In terms of acquisitions, what types of third-party fare are you looking for?
HALL: We’re looking for high-volume, big personality pieces across a few different genres that have returnability. We’d love more quiz and game shows that have a fresh host that can put a twist on the classic format. We’re also looking for more factual entertainment—programs that have a sense of fun, challenge and adventure, whether that be travel, food or exploration.

WS: Anything you’d like to acquire from the marketplace you do not see enough of?
HALL: I’d love to see a big new accessible and relatable sitcom come through that just tickles our British audience in all the right places. It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve seen a really strong character-led piece come through—perhaps it’s because there is so much strong content being homegrown in the U.K.

WS: How are you diversifying Dave’s programming mix?
We’re looking forward to branching out into genres that we know our audiences want. Whatever genres we play in, we’ll also look to do them with a Dave sensibility to them. And so when we do drama, it will feel like a Dave drama that well and truly belongs to the channel. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s about humor and punchlines, but it will need to have a warmth and wit to it, with complex, interesting and likable characters that our audience can connect to.

WS: What’s the focus for Dave in the 12 to 18 months ahead?
Our focus at Dave is to continue crafting big, accessible, award-winning hits across multiple platforms that our audience can enjoy whenever and wherever they want. We want to create program brands that become household names and live within an inclusive, fun, personable brand that has buckets of personality.