The Freedom to be Funny with Producer Tim Dean

Tim Dean and showrunner Kat Morrison on the set of Take Me Out
Tim Dean and showrunner Kat Morrison on the set of Take Me Out

Tim Dean sees the humor in just about everything. That’s been a fortuitous aspect for Dean and the number of television shows which have reaped the rewards of his personal perspective as an executive producer. From juggernauts like Super Match Game to the dating program Take Me Out, the potential humor which Tim perceives makes every moment, whether awkward or exciting, much more enjoyable. Pressure causes us to make a decision; will we become tense or will we enjoy the experience for the “once in a lifetime” moment it offers. Perceiving the means to support an atmosphere of levity is the gift that Tim Dean brings to his work. This is of course much easier experienced for participants and viewers than for someone behind the scenes moving these components into place. Dean concedes, “Pressure forces things, we can embrace that if we choose. I just really enjoy being given the freedom to try and make these shows as funny as humanly possible. I love making shows funny. My tendencies will always swing towards comedy entertainment and so the most rewarding aspect is seeing how funny a show could really be whether that means casting or a concept.”

Tim Dean with Stephen Mulhern on the Britain's Got More Talent set
Tim Dean with Stephen Mulhern on the Britain’s Got More Talent set

For the 11th season of long-running dating show Take Me Out, Mr. Dean was brought aboard to usher in a much needed update/refresh. The decidedly predictable but beloved formula of the show experienced the “Dean Effect” of a playfully sarcastic comedic tone to the dates, much to the amusement of the viewing public. Tim describes, “Crucially we just wanted the dates to feel more real and to be more fun. So we let the dates breath more, gave the couples more time to actually be on a date rather than filming a TV show and gave all the couples more time to actually get to know each other. The biggest change arguably was when we got the dates back in the edit we added lots of comic voice over to really drive the dates, which worked brilliantly. The dates had never been so funny was a comment that we were told a lot by the network.” A major factor in changing the show’s dynamic was also the updated casting system, implemented at Tim’s behest, via zoom applications. In addition to an incredible saving of resources, this massively widened the casting pool and brought new personalities to the show.

Tim on the Take Me Out set
Tim on the Take Me Out set

In for a Penny is the sort of innovative TV series that requires creativity at every level. The National Television Award Nominated program features host Stephen Mulhern chatting with random contestants in what might be described as a guerrilla game show at its best. Occurring anytime and anywhere with anyone in the general public is improv at its height, and maintaining this during Covid is almost inconceivable. At the airport, gassing up their car, exiting the grocery; how does one manifest humor and precaution simultaneously in these scenarios “on the fly”? Indicative of his positive ethos, Tim relates, “This was especially challenging as obviously due to protocols we also had to lose some of the games that we had always played because they just weren’t safe or appropriate anymore. Instead we had to come up with even more new games that we could play outside and at a good social distance, this was challenging but actually something that the whole team enjoyed and made the series feel even fresher.

How does one bring a fresh comedy approach to a show as established as the triple BAFTA Award Winning Britain’s Got Talent franchise? As executive producer of ITV’s Britain’s Got More Talent, Mr. Dean brought ideas in for the judges like Simon Cowell and David Walliams such as silly fashion shows, arm wrestling, and a general sense of breaking the social parameters which were long established on BGT. The idea was to imbue BGMT with a casualness; one which could only be manifested by a heightened sense of preparation on the part of Tim and his team. Airing right after BGT, BGMT became so popular that ITV began re-airing it the following day as well. One of the UK’s top TV critics even called the show “the best show on TV.” Tim Dean believes that looking for the imperfect in life leads to greater enjoyment. He imparts, “For Britain’s Got More Talent, the acts we would choose to air who were auditioning in front of the judges would also be the acts that were more on the unique side rather than say an opera singer or a dance troupe or a magician. The result was that BGMT became a great show in its own right, not even connected to BGT.”

Writer: Arlen Gann

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