A new six-part drama from Skins writer Jess Brittain and a collaboration with Idris Elba’s production company are among the highlights of the online-only BBC3 unveiled on Tuesday.
BBC3 controller Damian Kavanagh claimed the new online-only service would be “freed from the constraints of linear TV” when it goes off-air on 16 February. “Freed from the schedule, we can use whatever format and platform is most appropriate,” he said.
The BBC has promised to keep serving the youth-audience of 16- to 34-year-olds BBC3 is aimed at despite taking the channel off air in a bid to halve its running costs of £60m.
Around 15% of the channel’s remaining £30m will be spent on short form content, with many of the new commissions eschewing traditional running times. Some of the £30m saved will also be spent on youth-focused drama programming on BBC1.
As well as showing favourites such as a third series of sitcom Cuckoo, the online-only channel will include two new platforms: “The Best of” with original long and short-form programming and The Daily Drop, which will incorporate shorts, social media posts, image galleries and blogs.
Kavanagh added: “The majority of what we will make is TV... but we’ll make short form video, blogs and picture led stories as well. We’ll be on YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook and our new site The Daily Drop.”
The channel is seeking to address concerns that taking BBC3 off-air will reduce opportunities for young talent to break into the industry. Among the shows announced are a selection of comedy, drama and documentary commissions featuring new writers, actors and directors.
Those include the project with Elba’s Green Door Pictures, which aims to bring together established actors and new faces through shorts about chance encounters between two people, and Clique, Brittain’s drama about two female friends starting life as undergraduates in Edinburgh.
Other shows commissioned include documentaries about honour killing, Murdered by my Father, a series on sex and prostitution including the recent spate of sexual assaults in Colgone, and programme on KKK and Black Panther movements in the US with the working title Black Power.
Programming cited as specifically designed to take advantage of the lack of scheduling include Unsolved: The Boy Who Disappeared, a serialised investigation into the real life disappearance of a boy who has never been found that will be told through a variety of formats beyond video, and a show called Life Hacks starring magician Ben Hart persuading members of the public he is showing them ways to be more efficient.
The already announced Dr Who spin-off Class, which is set in a school in contemporary London featured in episodes of the hit sci-fi series, will also be available on the service.