CBBC to develop more co-viewing shows

Horrible Histories Few fulfil the "inform, educate and entertain" mission more than Horrible Histories

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CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor is commissioning more comedies as the children's channel attempts to host more content that families watch together.

She told Ariel she was keen to develop output that led to co-viewing, where grandparents and/or parents enjoy shows with children, especially as there were few cross-generational programmes on BBC One.

"Other than things like Doctor Who and Merlin [which ended at Christmas], there's not a lot of stuff so I'm very interested in that space, which I think CBBC can grow into, although I'm aware it might take a long time especially if it's via comedy," she said.

To that end, she has commissioned two new in-house series.

Topical news comedy DNN will showcase up-and-coming performers - the majority of whom will be female - and comedy drama Family by Sea will follow the chaos caused by an imaginative 10-year-old who moves to the Yorkshire coast with his parents.

Laugh yourself smart

Two pilots will also be made, including geek-sitcom Totally Square and panel show The Dog Ate My Homework, which Taylor describes as the "CBBC answer to Mock the Week".

Katie Thistleton and Hacker Katie Thistleton was a personal assistant before becoming a CBBC host

She is keen to continue the "laugh yourself smart" ethos of her predecessor Damian Kavanagh, bolstered by the return of Horrible Histories for a fifth series later this spring.

Taylor, who moved to CBBC in September after being a commissioning controller at BBC Comedy, is also looking to involve more female talent on air.

Comedian Susan Calman is currently hosting new series Extreme School, and even Taylor's former personal assistant Katie Thistleton recently became a channel presenter after she was recommended to do a screen test.

But while CBBC remains the most popular children's channel among its target audience of six to 12-year-olds, it can struggle to inherit younger viewers moving on from pre-school sister CBeebies.

"We know the top end of the CBeebies audience often go to other channels so we just think there is perhaps more we can do to interrogate the nature of that audience and what it is they're looking for," Taylor says.

Start Quote

Cheryl Taylor

It's really lovely to come to a channel that has such a great reputation ”

End Quote Cheryl Taylor CBBC controller
Staff atmosphere

Discussions with CBeebies controller Kay Benbow have focused on possibly screening existing shows on both channels and CBeebies potentially airing an edited version of Newsround that focuses on pet stories.

"We have to be very careful because the relationship both channels have with parents is one of trust and they see us as a safe walled garden for their little viewers, especially on CBeebies," says Taylor, who has two children aged four and nine.

"What we don't want is parents saying, 'Hang on a minute, you've corralled our kids over to CBBC and they saw [fantasy drama] Wolfblood' because you don't want a five or six-year-old bumping into that content however good it is."

After six months heading a multi-genre channel, she is beginning to settle down.

"Actually, at my age, it's really lovely to come to a channel that has got such a great reputation and is run so well," she says.

"I think the atmosphere here is fantastic and, although that sounds like a small thing, I think in the current BBC climate that's really, really important."

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