IELTS Cue Card Sample 470 - Describe a TV documentary

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a TV documentary you watched that was particularly interesting.

You should say:

  • what the documentary was about
  • why you decided to watch it
  • what you learnt during the documentary

and explain why the TV documentary was particularly interesting.


Model Answer 1:
My friend, a political science teacher at a local college, and I often argue about the roles of the large empires in shaping the history of our world. And to prove our points and arguments, we try to watch TV documentaries, especially the documentaries on “important political events” in history and collect information from them. Today, I would like to talk about one such documentary which I watched about a year ago which was quite interesting.

The documentary, I want to talk about, was on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It, of course, was a series of documentaries (even though, I didn’t really manage to watch all of them) which tried to discuss 600 years of history of the Roman Empire in as much depth as possible in chronological order.

It has one particular episode on the Roman republic days with the problems of northern Gallic tribes, and then it also talks about the role of Caesar in shaping the empire and so forth. By the way, I already had learned a little about the history of the Roman Empire, by reading different kinds of books and watching some historical facts on TV before, but this particular documentary taught me a great deal about the history of western civilization as a whole.

However, what was really remarkable about this documentary was that it really tried to contradict a very popular view, and a very important also in that, that the Romans were bad people and also the enemy of Christianity but they become good people after converting to Christianity. Besides, the documentary taught me a very crucial point (which other people may not agree with) and that is, our human history is nothing but the history of numerous wars and conflicts.

Anyway, the TV documentary was particularly interesting to be me because it opened my eyes to the flaws and greatness of the Roman civilization which also essentially is the civilization of Europe. I found it interesting also because Christian religion indeed played a very important role in shaping the European civilization even though many Europeans today like to disagree with it.


Sample Answer 2:
A plate of yummy food can remove the tiredness of the day. In fact, we eat, we live and this is true for all living being. But recently I had seen a documentary about food and their processing that shocked me heavily and it was one of the most interesting TV documentaries I have ever seen.  

People take food for several reasons, and the most prominent of them is their craving for the food or they want comfort for their hunger. But my idea of taking food for comfort has been changed after watching the "Food Inc.", a documentary on the food habits, food processing and how the large corporations cheating on innocent people. Actually, the documentary unfolded some blind parts of the food industry across the world. Food habits and tastes have been changed with the course of time and to meet the growing needs, the food-producing corporations are following numerous irrational ways and having their profits.  

Generally, before watching any movie or documentary, I like to do some homework on them such as I analyse rating, read reviews etc. to know if they are worth watching. Accordingly, I found that Food, Inc., a documentary by Robert Kenner, has been nominated for some prestigious awards in the USA. Moreover, the teaser of the documentary also attracted me. So, I started watching this documentary and came to know about a large number of confidential issues regarding food business. In fact, staying healthy is not enough today, we should be also careful about our food selection. The food items that we take from the superstores and chain shops are entirely unhealthy for us. At the same time, food producers are damaging the environment. Such issues were highly confidential until Mr Kenner unveiled them on screen through his documentary. Watching the documentary film was a nice experience for me.  

Food, Inc. taught me a wide number of things and I try to follow them in my own lifestyle. Basically, the documentary is an analysis of the existing food markets - how these food items are grown, how the corporations are abusing the environment, food, animals and people engaged in the food processing, how they are cheating the consumers and more other intriguing issues. The advertisements of different food products show that the foods items are handpicked directly from the farms. But in reality, they are not, the foods are ‘manufactured’ in factories. Has anyone ever thought how the seasonal vegetables are available all around the year or how they are found in plenty during the off-season? No, we do not think about such issues. We are not allowed to! The food industry owners do not want us to know these secrets lest they fail in the business. Moreover, the filmmaker had to remain careful about legal issues against him, the production company and channel that would broadcast it while making this documentary.      

Food, Inc. has taught me some good and valuable lessons. I think it is good to be healthy but at the same time, we should be careful about the foods we eat. There are three segments of the documentary and each of the parts revealed some highly sought information for the audiences that the food producers never wanted to expose in public. The entire productions process, especially in the case of meat, it is inhumane and disastrous to the environment. Besides, the large-scale productions of grains, green vegetables and fruits are also not sustainable. The majority of the vegetables and fruits are preserved with toxic chemicals harmful to human health. The advertisements create an appealing impression of the food and grains are gathered from a large ranch filled with green plants. But the inner scenario is completely different and there are no links at all to the large farms or greeneries. I loved the documentary for its bold expression of unethical activities from the food industry owners.


Sample Answer 3:
Thank you very much for the opportunity to let me talk about an interesting TV documentary that I have watched. I had to decide among 4-5 best and the most intriguing TV documentaries I have ever watched. 'The War Game' - a 1965 TV documentary that I watched in 2012 is the TV documentary I would like to talk about.

'The War Game' was directed and written by Peter Watkins and was distributed in the UK by the British Broadcasting Corporation. It was a television drama, a masterpiece that depicted the nuclear war. This documentary portrayed the horrified and catastrophic effects of war and was quite interesting to watch. It was awarded the Academy Award for the Best Documentary in 1966.

This was approximately a 50-minute black-and-white documentary that I watched all of a sudden. It was the evening time and it was raining outside. I sat on a sofa and was surfing different satellite TV  channels. All of a sudden I tuned to BBC and within a few minutes, this documentary started. It would be 2012, I guess. The documentary was so absorbing, shocking, horrifying and yet interesting that I was glued to the sofa.

'The War Game' depicts the prelude to as well as the immediate weeks of the aftermath of a Soviet nuclear attack against Britain. The documentary ends on a gloomy Christmas day after the nuclear war. The story was told like a news magazine programme style which made it even more interesting.

While watching this documentary I realised the brutality of wars, unimaginable destructions nuclear weapons can cause, how people become the victims of war, how a single wrong decision can cost the lives of millions, how cities and civilisations can be wiped out in few minutes and finally that wars are political decisions that should never happen in the first place.

The topic, filming, narrating, theme, casting, camera work, the depiction of wars, true events are all very fascinating in this documentary. As soon as I finished watching it, I realised this was worth watching TV documentary and I would recommend it to my close friends. In fact, it was so interesting that I watched it once again in 2013.


More Ideas to talk about this Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card topic:

Topic: Describe a TV documentary you watched that was particularly interesting.

1. I am not addicted to television documentary but the Cold Case Files particularly appeared interesting to me. The documentary was about solving a murder case. I decided to watch it because of the suspense. I have learned how to unearth a murder case and to reach its resolution. The documentary showed how police follow a lead but fail to reach a resolution. They are in a dead-end and time passes by to figure out the right thing. So, it appeared interesting to me.

2. Honestly, it would not be possible for me to do the dirty jobs that I watched a television documentary of the same name. Actually, I had no idea that so many dirty jobs are available in the world and people are doing them. I realized the fact that we should respect every job in the world. It helps to earn a living. The documentary appeared interesting because the person who features the documentary had to struggle a lot for cleaning poops of many species. And he did all the things with enjoyment.

3. Usually, television documentaries appear interesting to me when they investigate issues about the wild kingdom. So, I am in a kind of love with the Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. I selected to watch it because it was an informative documentary about wildlife. I came to know about a wide number of unknown matters from the documentary about wildlife and wilderness. The investigative video clips are highly entertaining because they are enriched with the deepest secret of the wildlife.

4. People who love to believe in paranormal activities, 'Destination Truth' is the best television documentary for them. The series is about legendary creatures, paranormal activities, and ghosts. I have an interest in it and thus I decided to watch the show. I came to know various interesting information about the matter and finally was amazed. The documentary was compelling because it established the existence of some paranormal matters which are ignored in the usual sense.

5. Almost all of the sports lover like me will agree that 30 For 30 is a great television documentary. The documentary is about sports and some inner events in the sports arena. Since I love to play and participate in a different form of sports, this a great documentary for me. The show exhibited a good number of matters that took place beyond the imagination of the audience. The documentary is intriguing because some of the greatest personalities took part here and shared their opinions and experiences regarding sports.

Part 3: Discussion topics:

Different types of TV programmes:
Q. What are the most popular kinds of TV programmes in your country? Why is this?
Answer: Although I don't watch TV very often, I think that TV series stands in the first place among popular TV programmes. There are different types of TV series such as soap opera, drama, romance, adventure, science fiction, crime and investment, comedy and so on. For example, Sherlock Holmes is a very popular TV series not only in England but also in other countries. Regarding the reasons why this is happening, I would say that those TV series are very interesting, entertaining and you can spend your free time watching it.  For instance, when I watched a police procedural television series, I learnt almost everything about crimes and investigations and that turned out to be even educative. These types of TV series has a great variety of topics and the plots are very attractive. That is why people do not want to miss any episode of their favourite TV series.  

Tip: Every country has its own popular TV programmes. This is just an example and it's based on my personal opinion. So don't take for granted that this is the only correct answer. You can talk about news, talk show, investigative programmes, debate show, talent hunt show, reality show, sports programmes etc as the most popular TV programme type in your country.

Q. Do you think there are too many game shows on TV nowadays? Why?
Answer: As I said earlier, I am not a TV fan! However, whenever I surf TV channels I can obviously feel the number of overwhelming sports channels. This is proof that people nowadays watch more sports channels and sports telecasting than ever before. Likewise, the number of game and quiz shows on different TV channels is also quite high. I have noticed my mom watch two game-shows and she likes them very much. People often watch game shows because those programmes are entertaining and educational at the same time. The competitive nature and challenges attract many viewers to watch such programmes.  Sometimes there are questions for the viewers and as a viewer, someone often gets the chance to earn prizes or the opportunity to participate in the live show. These are in my opinion are the reason games shows are more popular these days and there are so many of them.      

Tip: Your answer could be negative as well. Not every country has many game shows. If so, you should say the reasons you believe this is happening. Also, give one or two personal reason(s) why game shows in your country are not popular.

Q. Do you think TV is the main way for people to get the news in your country? What other ways are there?
Answer: Well, I come from Greece, so I would say yes, TV is the main source to get news in Greece. In my country, TV is the main way for most of the people to get information about different news and events.  Only a few young people and adults get the news via the internet and the elderly from radio and newspapers too.  

In England, where I currently live in, TV is a popular means of getting information but I wouldn't say that it's the most popular source for news and information. People of all ages rely on the Internet, social media and newspapers to get news.

TV advertising:
Q. What types of products are advertised most often on TV?
Answer: Actually, this is a difficult question because I think that most of us don't pay much attention to TV's advertisements. At least as far as I'm concerned, I always change the TV channel when they start showing advertisement. But, I would try to answer this question by saying that different types of edibles are advertised such as juices, soft drinks, cookies, chips, cosmetic products et cetera. Moreover, especially in the last five years, technological products are also being promoted on TV advertisement. Some representative examples are smartphones, iPhone and laptops. Finally, cars constitute a category that is advertised a lot and there are many times that famous people like actors, singers and football players, are the main representative of those products.

Q. Do you think that people pay attention to adverts on TV? Why do you think that is?
Answer: As I mentioned earlier, most people do not pay that much attention to TV adverts. There are very few times when someone watches an advertisement because of the attractive theme of that advertisement. When a TV channel broadcasts advertisements, most people either change the channel or do other things. My opinion is that not every person is interested in every sort of advertisement. Another reason people pay less attention to TV adverts is that when watching a movie or a favourite programme, advertisements often bother them. Amid a lengthy programme, people need to take breaks and they mostly do that when advertisements are shown.  

Tips: Your answer could also be that people pay attention to TV adverts. If you say so, just clarify it with some examples. Try to say that those adverts are informative and present newly arrived products or services. They also inform us about the benefits of different products and let us chose our necessary goods among a great variety of options. Also, mention that ad creators use different innovative methods so that people watch it. Finally, say that people can hardly leave their seats while watching a live sports telecast or a favourite programme and when advertisements are shows, they intentionally and subconsciously watch them.

Q. How important are regulations on TV advertising?
Answer:  I believe regulation on TV advertisements are of paramount importance. First of all, TV advertisements are displayed constantly all the time and the audiences come from different age groups. For that reason, the contents of an advertisement must be suitable for all audiences. In addition, every advertisement must be based on truth, moral code and sole purpose of informing people. Moreover, they should promote public health and not provide anything that might induce people to damage their health, such as tobacco and alcohol ads. Finally, the adverts should never exaggerate or falsify information about a product or service. To monitor the ethics, morality and regulation every advertisement should be censored before it is displayed on the TV.

[Part 3 answers are written by Mary | UK ]

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