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The changing face of BBC Daytime: Moving On, The Indian Doctor, Land Girls and more

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Liam Keelan Liam Keelan | 15:07 UK time, Tuesday, 6 July 2010

BBC Daytime has gone through a pretty significant shift in terms of our programmes over the last couple years, so it was interesting to read the BBC Trust's thoughts on Daytime in their Strategy Review and particularly where they think there's room for improvement.

While some headlines are bound to focus on the criticism, it's worth having a look at how far BBC Daytime has changed in recent times, where this overlaps with the Trust's argument for greater distinctiveness and how this all compares to our commercial competitors.

Land Girls, one of BBC Daytime's successes

Going back to February 2008, BBC Daytime no longer continued to broadcast the Australian soap Neighbours. At the time this felt like a major loss to the schedule -after all it was the highest rating show in Daytime and had been part of the schedule for more than 20 years!

Although it didn't feel like it at the time, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to BBC Daytime as it freed up schedule space and, more importantly, money to invest in making daytime feel much more distinctive than our rivals.

So what's been done in the intervening period and what more is being done to address the Trust's particular emphasis on thinking there are too many property and collectibles programmes.

It's fair to say the three genres we've focused upon more than any other since 2008 are current/social affairs, consumer and UK-originated drama. In fact, we have increased consumer, social and current affairs programmes in Daytime by 140% - a rise from around 80 hours to almost 200 planned for 2010.

Among the many examples we're rightly proud of are Rip-Off Britain, a consumer series fronted seasoned journalists Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Jennie Bond, Missing Live, a campaigning series to reunite missing people with their families and which was commended in the House of Commons, and the award-winning The Estate We're In, which is on air at 09.15 at the time of writing, and which Philip Johnston in yesterday's Daily Telegraph called "a programme for our time... it touches on Broken Britain and the Big Society".

Another big push has come in the area of UK-originated drama. For some years we've been the only broadcaster to produce drama in Daytime and Doctors has a long history of covering a broad range of social issues, winning several awards along the way. Have a read of Diane Keen's post on this blog about the show's 10th anniversary on this blog.

Over the last year this has been joined by event drama which I really believe has changed perceptions of what we do in Daytime.

A scene from BBC Daytime's Doctors, where Jimmy, played by Adrian Lewis Morgan, has his blood taken by Karen, played by Jan Pearson

Missing, starring Pauline Quirke, undoubtedly raised the issue of missing people to a wider audience and drew greater attention to the campaign overall. Jimmy McGovern's single plays Moving On touched on many issues our audience really care about and is back this autumn with double the number of episodes.

Finally, Land Girls was a first for BBC Daytime in that we'd never before produced a period drama in that part of the schedule - this too was paired with a factual series (The Week We Went to War) and was recognised with a Broadcast award earlier this year.

Several of the programmes I've mentioned, including Land Girls and Moving On, have received such acclaim that they've been repeated in peak-time. Factual programmes such as Fake Britain, Real Rescues and Dom's on the Case: NHS have also been promoted to peak time and have performed very well for the channel.

The Trust rightly gives us credit for the range of programmes in Daytime: we launched more than 50 different shows last year compared with fewer than 10 on each of our commercial rivals.

A large influx of new programmes, such as those mentioned above, does of course mean we have to lose others from the schedule to make space. Most recently Car Booty has been decommissioned alongside property series such as The Unsellables.

The Trust has also acknowledged that Daytime has already started the process of changing its mix of programmes - the challenge remains to continue to provide the broadest range of programming of any broadcaster.

Despite challenging budgets (a daytime series budget is roughly a quarter of a peak time series) the aim in daytime will always be to produce the highest quality programming other broadcasters wouldn't go near.

Sanjeev Bhaskar's new drama The Indian Doctor, set in Wales in 1963 and part of a wider season of programming on 60s, is one example in the autumn.

A scene from the last series of Moving On. The episode The Rain Has Stopped features Sheila Hancock as Liz, Emma Lowndes as Alice, and Dominic Senior as Joe

The next series of Moving On kicks off with John Fay's Sauce For The Goose, a powerful study of senile dementia with a stunning performance from Anna Massey.

It's followed by Shaun Duggan's Losing My Religion, a riveting film about Catholic hypocrisy and it concludes with Esther Wilson's I Am Darleen Fyles, the two stars of which are actors with serious learning difficulties.

And, as Jimmy McGovern said, "This series just wouldn't have been possible without BBC Daytime's commitment to commissioning drama that takes risks. Drama with something to say. Drama that is inexpensive. Drama that is excellent value for money."

Expect many more to follow.

Liam Keelan is the controller of BBC Daytime.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    There seems very little of interest to older working class viewers during the daytime.

    I miss "Bilko" (The Phil Silvers Show) even though I have seen every episode many times. How about some other vintage comedies I grew up with such as The Lucy Show, Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Tyler Moore etc.

    I don't watch it myself but friends say they are tired of Murder She Wrote so try replacing it with Cagney & Lacey or similar.

    There is also a big demand for classic TV Westerns such as The Virginian.

    These as far as I remember were all originally broadcast on the BBC.

    And lastly more films in the afternoon please.

    OK, these are not going to be new programs, but its what a lot of us want to see.

    Thank You.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree with smithapp66, I think there should be room for more films and more old series. This is far preferrable to antiques / getting rid of junk shows.

    Also I think it's very disappointing that there are now no proper educational programmes on either channel. When BBC Two used to show around five or six hours worth of Daytime on Two, a lot of the programmes were fascinating - even those aimed at Primary children!

    Even in the early days of BBC Daytime there was a thankful lack of stripping programmes across the week in the afternoon.

  • Comment number 3.

    In view of what's been said about the cancelling of Neighbours. Could the same consideration be given to EastEnders? I'm not suggesting a complete cancellation but a reduction to it's original twice a week slot, or even one hour long episoide per week. Also, in the age of Iplayer is there any justification for clogging up a sunday afternoon with an omnibus catchup???

  • Comment number 4.

    The Indian Doctor is such compulsive viewing what a great Drama with a first class cast.Makes the grey afternoons more enjoyable.What i dont understand is how this was not put on as an evening slot the ratings would have gone through the roof well done to all concerned.

  • Comment number 5.

    Moving on.
    What a great inspiration!It must be broadcast so it can reach more viewers as some of the storylines need a much wider audiance to open up a good national debate.The BBC should be proud of such work,it certainly got me watching.

    The Indian doctor?
    A triumph!! And I want another serie reaching a much wider audiance as it deserves it.
    Congratulations to the cast members,the production team and the BBC for broadcasting this amazingly good serie.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Indian Doctor has been fantastic viewing! A repeat please and a new series!

  • Comment number 7.

    Not being around during the day, I tend to do my viewing via iplayer, and I must say, that increasingly, some of the best programmes are coming from daytime TV, for instance Heir Hunters, Pointless, Missing, the indian doctor and Antiques road trip to name a few. Can I ask though, that they are put on iplayer. Im really dissapointed I cant see Missing.

  • Comment number 8.

    when my wife told me she had recorded a programme called The Indian Doctor, I thought great another soap ! but this was fantastic, one of the most brilliant shows for a long time. Would like to see more being made, and being televised in the evening instead of some other programmes. You have a hit BBC dont let it slip

 

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