BBC One and Two to drop children's blocks in December

Clockwise from top left: Blue Peter, Deadly 60, Horrible Histories, Nina and the Neurons and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion Clockwise from top left: Blue Peter, Deadly 60, Horrible Histories, Nina and the Neurons and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion

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BBC One and BBC Two will stop showing children's programming blocks after Christmas.

Children's output will continue on digital channels CBeebies and CBBC although BBC Children's director Joe Godwin said BBC One and BBC Two will occasionally showcase "the very best of what we do".

Approved by the BBC Trust in May, the blocks' removal will follow the completion of digital switchover this October and is expected to save on repeat fees as the corporation aims to cut costs by 20%.

BBC One will replace the blocks with new daytime programmes while BBC Two will air live sports and repeats of factual shows from the archive.

"Outdated model"

Start Quote

I think this is the golden age of children's television ”

End Quote Joe Godwin Director, BBC Children's

The decision caused some controversy earlier this year however Godwin said at a Broadcast magazine session in Salford: "The classic Children's Hour model is outdated and children are voting with their fingers and going to the digital channels."

"We're not making children change their habits, we're following where they've gone already…very few children are looking primarily to slots on BBC One and BBC Two for their favourite children's programmes."

In a competitive market of around 35 children's channels, CBeebies and CBBC remain the most popular, respectively reaching a weekly average of 48% and 34% among their target audiences of under-6s and 6-12 year olds.

"Some of our top programmes get more iPlayer streams than television viewers," said Godwin.

Blue Peter

Children's output is one of the BBC's five editorial priorities and, amid the BBC's lobbying efforts to shift the channels higher up the EPG's children's section, Godwin commented: "Given that it's paid for by everybody in the UK…I just think it should be easier to find."

Children's slots on BBC TV

CBeebies presenters in panto
  • CBeebies on BBC Two: 0600-0700; 0830-1105 (Mon-Fri), 0600-0700 (Sat & Sun)
  • CBBC on BBC One: 1505-1715 (Mon-Fri)
  • CBBC on BBC Two: 0700-0830 (Mon-Fri), 0700-1200 (Sat), 0700-1000 (Sun)
  • CBeebies channel: 0600-1900
  • CBBC channel: 0700-1900

He also dismissed any suggestions that the BBC will drop Blue Peter, which has doubled its audience among 6-12 year olds since it started premiering in the CBBC peaktime slot of 5.15pm last January.

"If we wanted to get rid of it, we'd get rid of it - what we did was make it better. It came to its new home, we went to a lot of trouble to move the Blue Peter garden up here, which we wouldn't have done if we tried to get rid of it, and we did that to strengthen it."

The show now airs once a week although there are regular specials, and Godwin said the changing nature of children's shows meant "magazine formats are less important than they used to be because there are so many specialist programmes."

More female-led shows

He also said high-quality drama was the genre that drives CBBC's reach and share, with three dramas airing this autumn and the return of Tracy Beaker actress Dani Harmer in brand new series Dani's Castle next year.

Children's output started 90 years ago, soon after the birth of the BBC, but Godwin said: "I think this is the golden age of children's television particularly when it comes to choice."

In a separate session, CBeebies controller Kay Benbow said there will be more female-led shows coming through in the next few years.

Although regarded as one of the jewels in the BBC's crown, the channel has drawn some complaints over the prominence of male-led series.

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