The mind behind Big Brother wants to read your thoughts

June 30, 2008

It used to be that everyone had a book in them.  Now, thanks to user-generated-content and global media saturation, we are led to believe that we all have something worthy of shooting, editing and being watched.  In other words, an idea for a TV show.


One man who knows all too well how difficult it is to make it big on TV is John De Mol – originally one half of the production giant Endemol.  He was one of the founding fathers of Big Brother – a scribble called The Golden Cage that initally appeared on a page in a 1997 brainstorm session.  Two years later it appeared on Dutch television and it took a further three years to invade other territories.  

 De Mol eventually left Endemol and set up his new venture Talpa and now he wants to hear your ideas for reality programming, via his public access site –

There’s not much on offer until you register as a user, which means giving over your email address and a reason why you should be part of the collective creative.  Then you wait.  It only took me an hour to be given a password, but in that time I did think that maybe I wasn’t going to make it.  How am I going to go if I actually send them an idea?… which I am obligated to do twice a month if I want to keep the subscritption. And you can’t just put in one liners.  Every thought has to be supported by a title, logline, a fleshed out page or two plus a description of your relationship with TV.


The incentive is that there’s $50 000 up for grabs, although it’s not clear if that’s for one great idea or for all players to split.  If Talpa US like the sound of the idea (and no one in their global company has had a vaguely related idea according to the Terms and Conditions) they’ll produce it on De Mol’s own tv network in The Netherlands. If it’s a hit it’ll be a fast track to global domination and hopefully a timeslot in a country where you get to see your handy work.


So for you to succeed, the Dutch have to like it.  Perhaps the I can increase the chance of success if I pitch an idea inspired by their lifestyle. Something about surviving in a concrete shell –  Dutch rental properties come totally empty – no carpet, no stoves, no nothing.  Surely something about stopping global warming would be hot – the rising oceans are going to hit hard in a country that is 80% below sea level.  My other thought is a program that captures the local ethos of living with your curtains open.  Take a night time walk around any suburb in the Netherlands and you’re likely to see more than what’s on show in the Red Light district.  Oh, I guess Big Brother already did that.


Let me know if what’s in your head leads you to get your hands on any of that Talpa cash.




4 Responses to “The mind behind Big Brother wants to read your thoughts”

  1. themolk Says:

    I’m lucky to have one decent TV idea once a year, let alone two a month!

    That’s both such an innovative and demanding way to work with your online community. Gen Y’ers wouldn’t go for it, I think. It’s all take, take, take with them (“we need another Vietnam, thin them out a little”).

    Hmm… perhaps one of my ideas can be to create a tv show that I get people to send in ideas of what we can do on it with the promise of $50K if we take up your idea… but you have to submit two ideas a month to stay in the game…

  2. BrettSnelgrove Says:

    It’s an interesting idea and certain takes advantage of what the web is good at, bring together of like-minded collectives of people.

    Maybe he’s hoping to plug into the “public” zeitgeist of what ideas, topics, issues, themes are popular. Maybe he is genuinely hoping to find a great produceable TV idea. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

    It’s all very stacked in De Mol’s favour though. I guess it’s great if you want an outlet for your creativity and a community to engage with but it seems to be asking a lot from people for a little …

  3. Lesley Says:

    “no one in their global company has had a vaguely related idea according to the Terms and Conditions” Huh, prove that in your favour if you can! In other words, they really need never pay out for an idea because someone in their company will always come up with a ‘napkin’ from a restaurant that they ate at 2 months before you sent your idea in. You’d be better off getting an agent 🙂

  4. tvmatters Says:

    To Lesley

    Yes, you are right, but all production companies have a clause like this but it’s usually much harder to understand. And it’d only hold up if the napkin was dated.

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