Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content spoke about the BBC’s approach to the commissioning new programmes in an age of rapidly changing viewing habits.
In the last year, BBC One has bought audiences Bodyguard, Line of Duty, Doctor Who, Luther, Gentlemen Jack, Killing Eve II, Strictly Come Dancing, The Greatest Dancer, Ghosts, This Time with Alan Partridge, Dynasties, Climate Change - The Facts, Grenfell, and Stephen - The Murder that Changed a Nation, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Speaking about "no longer looking at just overnights", Charlotte pointed out how Ghosts saw huge uplifts from its overnight audience (2.2m) as viewing discovered it outside the broadcast window, growing 100% in the 28 days following broadcast to average 4.5m. Mrs Wilson also grew by 112% from it’s overnight audience of 4.6m to a 28 day 4-screen figure of 9.0m. Baptiste grew by 97% from its overnight average 4.0m to the 28 day 4-screen audience of 7.8m.
The BBC’s television portfolio is committed to telling British stories and commissioning for British audiences whilst supporting new talent, such as Nabhan Rizwan (Informer) presenters like Rylan Clark-Neal (You Are What You Wear) or the writers of upcoming drama Noughts and Crosses, Lydia Adetunji, Rachel De-Lahay, and Nathaniel Price.
However audience habits are changing quickly and in order to adapt to this change in behaviour the BBC must continue to adapt with them.
Increasingly audiences are choosing to watch programmes on-demand at a time of their choosing. The audiences for many of the BBC’s programmes are seeing an increasing percentage of audiences coming from viewing in the days after the first transmission.
So in order to address audience needs the BBC is making changes to the BBC iPlayer to make content available for longer, bringing back former series when new episodes of a programme air and making more use of content from the BBC’s archive.
Charlotte Moore said:“We are hugely proud of the programmes we’ve had on BBC One this year, but we are aware that we can’t stand still if we are to keep up with what the audience wants. So we are making changes to the BBC iPlayer so there will be more programmes available for longer and a richer offer for everyone, young and old. With this in mind we’re increasingly looking to commission programmes that will work across both the linear channels and BBC iPlayer. The exciting commissions we’ve announced today will be a great offer for audiences however they consume them.”
The new commissions announced today include three dramas from Steven Moffat, Sarah Solemani and Gwyneth Hughes, a new comedy Bumps and two standalone factual pieces on extinction, presented by Sir David Attenborough, and mental health featuring the Duke of Cambridge.
Those new commissions in drama, comedy and factual include a new drama from Steven Moffatt and a new documentary presented by Sir David Attenborough.
A four-part mini-series produced by Hartswood Films and written by Steven Moffat (Dracula, Sherlock, Doctor Who).
A prisoner on death row in the US and a woman trapped in a cellar under an English vicarage, cross paths in the most unexpected way…
Speaking about the series, Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger said “In our ongoing relationship with Steven and Sue (Vertue), they sent us this mini-series which Steven had written on spec and we commissioned it instantly. The script is a page-turner and grips you from the outset, and Charlotte and I couldn’t resist bringing this story to BBC One.”
Produced by Hartswood Films for BBC One, this four-part serial will go into production in late 2020.
A new four-part thriller written by Sarah Solemani tells the story of the rise of fascism in Sixties London and one young woman who risked everything to fight it.
Ridley Road is a thriller set against the backdrop of a swinging sixties London we haven’t seen: an East End world where far right fascism is on the rise. When Vivien Epstein follows her lover into danger and he is caught between life and death, Vivienne finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for him but for the sake of her country.
The series has been written and adapted for television by award-winning writer Sarah Solemani (Barry, Aphrodite Fry), from the critically acclaimed novel by Jo Bloom.
While writing Ridley Road, writer Sarah Solemani undertook extensive research into the period, and said“Britain’s relationship with fascism is closer and more alive than we like to think. Luckily, so is our rich heritage of fighting it. Jo Bloom’s gripping book revealed a darker side of Sixties London and the staggering contribution the Jewish community made in the battle against racism. I am thrilled to be working with RED and the BBC to bring this little-known slice of British history to the screen.”
Speaking about the series, Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger said “Sarah's brilliant scripts tell a unique story of doomed love and undercover espionage against a backdrop of a fascist uprising in 1960s London. This story couldn't feel more timely and we are hugely indebted Sarah for bringing this story to life in her own style.”
Whilst executive producer and Chief Executive of RED Production Company Nicola Shindler said “It’s hugely exciting to adapt this story into a drama. I loved the book, and Sarah’s script has brilliantly captured the passionate love story coupled with the social tensions amid the rise of fascism and the vivid wonderment of the swinging sixties."
"While it’s set during a relatively unknown part of British history, Ridley Road echoes what is happening today with the growing rhetoric against people of a different race or nationality, and it feels like a really timely drama to bring to audiences.”
Casting will be announced in due course.
When It Happens To You
For more than half a century, any woman in the UK with an unwanted pregnancy has been legally entitled to ask for a termination - except in Northern Ireland.
As Northern Ireland faces a potential change to its law on abortion, BBC One announces a new drama based on real-life stories.
When It Happens To You is made by the producers of Three Girls, the BBC’s multi-award winning account of the grooming scandal in Rochdale. Its writer Gwyneth Hughes (Doing Money, Vanity Fair) explores the emotive issues around abortion in Northern Ireland and the experience of families and their loved ones whose lives have been profoundly affected by it.
Executive Producer Susan Hogg says: “Growing up in Northern Ireland I was always aware of the heated debate surrounding the issue of abortion, and this is a story I’ve wanted to tell for many years. Terminations are illegal even when doctors agree that the foetus has no chance of survival or where a pregnancy has been the result of rape or incest. We will go behind the headlines and tell the true stories of women and girls and their families who have been deeply affected by the law.”
Writer Gwyneth Hughes said “I knew the law was different, but I had no idea what that really meant until I went to Northern Ireland and met some of the families involved. I’ve been deeply moved by their experiences and feel honoured to be asked to share their stories.”
Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger said "Abortion is a complex and emotive subject, and it continues to divide opinion in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Following months of detailed research, Gwyneth and the Studio Lambert team will help audiences get an insight into how abortion law has affected many different women and their families. Their stories are powerful, personal and memorable.”
Bumps is a one-off comedy playhouse pilot for BBC One written by Lucy Montgomery and Rhys Thomas, made by Kudos.
Anita, played by Amanda Redman, is a sixty-three-year-old divorcee with two grown up kids and no stork on the horizon threatening to bring grandchildren. Anita may be in her sixties, but inside she feels twenty. She’s adventurous, energetic and a bundle of fun.
She wants to pack as much into life as she can whilst she still has her own joints. With the aid of an egg and sperm donor she decides to have a baby. Unbeknownst to her it happens to be at the same time as her forty year old daughter Suzanne discovers she is expecting her first child.
Bumps is being described as "an uplifting cross generational comedy offering a whole new spin on family dynamics". Anita hasn’t really thought through the impact this baby will have on her body or her psyche or her finances. Not for one millisecond has she considered how her decision to have a child will impact on her two grown up kids. She thinks she’s earned the right to do what she wants and she doesn’t realise the emotional bomb she’s detonated. Well now she’s about to find out...
Controller of BBC Comedy Shane Allen said “Bumps brings a modern spin on the family sitcom through its lens on the mother and daughter dynamic. Rhys and Lucy have created a vibrant world of endearing characters who capture the dysfunction, frustration and love at the heart of family life.”
Phil Temple, Executive Producer for Kudos said “We are overjoyed to be making this show for BBC One. Anita is a force of nature and there is no one better to bring her to life than the supremely gifted Amanda Redman. Rhys and Lucy’s script is truly original - it’s funny, thought provoking, touching and full of characters we are sure the audience will fall in love with.”
A Royal Road to Wembley: Tackling Mental Health
A landmark film focusing on men’s mental health through the prism of football, with access to HRH The Duke of Cambridge over the course of a year.
BBC One will follow the 19/20 FA Cup season as The Duke of Cambridge works in partnership with the FA to launch an ambitious new plan to raise awareness of male mental fitness. As well as following the Duke’s work, the film will also tell the stories of men from right across the country who have been affected by, or are currently experiencing mental health issues.
It’s widely recognised that football is a uniquely powerful way to reach men in particular. Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women, with suicide the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45. The film hopes to highlight the fact that we all have mental health and encourage more men to feel comfortable talking about their mental health, and feel able to support their friends and families through difficult times.
The film will follow the narrative of the football season, from the first qualifying round in September all the way through to The FA Cup Final. It will film with clubs at every leg of the FA Cup exploring initiatives to help improve mental wellbeing, from the Premier League to grassroots projects. It will follow the Duke as he undertakes a number of engagements with his ‘Heads Up’ initiative and discusses the issue with fans and footballers alike.
The film builds on the conversation started in the BBC One film shown earlier this year, A Royal Team Talk where HRH The Duke of Cambridge met with well-known faces from the world of football for an extraordinarily candid conversation about the importance of men’s mental health and mental fitness.
BBC Controller Factual Commissioning Alison Kirkham said “With suicide still the biggest killer of men under 45 it’s crucial that we normalise conversations about mental health. Our mental health season earlier in the year and the film, A Royal Team Talk had significant impact, with many more people opening up and contacting mental health charities. I’m proud that, working once again with the Duke of Cambridge and the FA, we can use the power of football to continue to raise awareness of an issue that is so important to our audience.”
Extinction: The Facts
Presented by Sir David Attenborough, Extinction: The Facts is a one-off hour-long documentary investigating what the future holds for our planet.
Last year a WWF report, stated that the mammal, bird, fish, reptile and amphibian populations have shrunk by 60 per cent in just over 40 years1. According to a recent UN report, nearly a third of corals around the world and more than a third of marine mammals are threatened with extinction 2. The abundance of native species in most major land habitats has fallen by a fifth, mostly since 19003, and earlier this year, scientists from around the world published their most thorough review of the current state of the natural world to date.
Shockingly, the UN report warned that around a million species of plants and animals face extinction, many within decades if urgent action isn’t taken. Extinction is a natural part of life but this time it’s different. The rate of change during the past 50 years is unprecedented in human history and could change our planet forever.4
Extinction: The Facts looks beyond our emotions to investigate what the extinction crisis means, not just for the planet but for every one of us. World-leading scientists will explore why species are disappearing at such an alarming rate and will ask what that means for humanity: Planet Earth owes its incredible biodiversity to an incredibly complex but delicate eco-system.
Everything in nature is connected so the loss of one species can cause entire ecosystems to collapse, eco-systems we depend on for food, water and resources. The blue whale, the biggest mammal on earth, cannot survive without plentiful supplies of krill, one of the smallest animals in the ocean. It’s said that food supplies for the human population could be threatened if the decline of pollinating insects continues5.
Pollution, deforestation and overfishing are threatening the delicate balance of our world6. Sales in reusable coffee cups have reached unprecedented levels7. But even if more people than ever are changing their habits for the planet, is it enough?
BBC Controller Factual Commissioning Alison Kirkham said “Even today a record number of wildfires are burning in the Amazon and a million species are threatened with extinction. We know our audience has a hunger to understand how these urgent environmental issues affect them, but more than that, what they themselves can do in their homes."
"We’ve proven with Big Blue Live, Climate Change the Facts, Drowning in Plastic that we can bring big broad audiences to complicated environmental subjects. This is television that matters. And I’m thrilled Sir David Attenborough continues to work with us to make it.”