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BBC Daytime's not-so-hidden gems

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Liam Keelan Liam Keelan | 10:06 UK time, Monday, 15 March 2010

It's been an interesting start to the year for BBC Daytime: A Broadcast award for our WWII-based drama Land Girls, a Strategic Review discussion around a significant increase in daytime funding and then a sideswipe from ex-communications minister James Purnell on the value of BBC Two daytime.I must admit I was more than a bit taken aback by the piece in the Guardian, given the range of what we do in daytime with what are in TV terms quite modest budgets.

Overall, we have around £80 million across both channels, which runs from 9.15am all the way up to early peak slots such as the The One Show on BBC One and Eggheads over on BBC Two, with both channels covering almost every genre you can imagine.


To give you an example of the variety of output in BBC Daytime, last week we had a current affairs series Fake Britain, gaining more than 1.6m viewers at 9.15 in the morning, a tremendous achievement against Jeremy Kyle on ITV1.

This week-long event series saw Dominic Littlewood follow the law enforcement agencies as they confront the gangs responsible for bringing counterfeit goods into the country with often tragic consequences. One of the main aims of the series was to show viewers how to avoid the being duped by bogus products and salesmen, so it's great to see the reaction it has had.

Another example would be Missing Live which starts this week at 9.15am and is paired with a two-week run of the Missing drama, starring Pauline Quirke, at 2.15pm.

The previous series was great to have on BBC Daytime, successfully reuniting many missing people with their families and even being commended in the House of Commons for being exactly the kind of programming only the BBC can provide.

This pattern of pairing afternoon dramas with factual programmes in the morning has been hugely successful for us. When you look at the feedback and audiences to Missing or Land Girls and The Week We Went to War, I'm convinced this is due in no small part to the fact that we've given these events so much space in the schedule, showing how much we believe in them.

Great British Menu

BBC Two daytime also has its fair share of events. Great British Menu is about to return at 6.30pm and this year the professional chefs are competing to cook at a banquet celebrating the wealth of produce grown, reared and fished across the UK. Earlier this year, Michael Portillo followed the Victorian guidebook of George Bradshaw in Great British Railway Journeys, which received great plaudits and will return early next year.

I'm pleased that BBC Daytime has been identified in the strategic review as an important part of the BBC's future and if it is decided to increase our level of funding for in daytime, I'd hope you'd see a lot more of this kind of programming across BBC One and Two.

While we might not always get it right, and it would be interesting to hear what you think, I've always thought BBC Daytime's strength is based in the range of what we do and this is ultimately why programmes such as Missing and Rip Off Britain can sit happily alongside Bargain Hunt, Doctors and Eggheads.

Liam Keelan is the controller of BBC Daytime


  • Comment number 1.

    What happened to the old black/white films on BBC2 daytime? You seem to rather put on repeats

  • Comment number 2.

    I thought the episode of great British Menu on monday was really awful. I eat meat but why can't the chefs be respectful to the animals they kill. Many modern cultures and cultures of the past respected wild animals for giving them meat, the chefs were gloating about cooking rabbits with the food they eat and getting revenge on animals that were "pests" to farmers by taking out their entire species. So much of Britain is covered by farm land how are animals supposed to know that they are eating human crops. I know they have to kill them sometimes but why laugh about it and treat the wild animals like villains when farm animals are seen as perfect. The earth's population is so high now that wild animals are increasingly demonised when it could be the farmland that is the pest to their natural environment.

  • Comment number 3.

    Just a suggestion for BBC daytime, why not rename Great British Menu, to the more acurate name of " The Great Boil in the Bag Show".

    I used to love this show but now non of the chefs actually cook any more it's all just boil in the bag, Talk about being environmentaly unfriendly this lot take this biscuit ( cooked in a bag of course).

  • Comment number 4.

    I like the Great British Menu but I wish the presenters would be honest when they talk about chefs from the regions. Most of the chefs in this and past series have restaurants in London (the south east) and not in the region they are said to represent.

  • Comment number 5.

    regarding the Great British Menu new policy of allowing a previously successful chef to judge the courses produced, has now caused two significant chefs who have produced unusual and exciting dishes to be scored out of the competition through technical skill over style, especially with the loss of Henry during the South West episode. This has been highlighted by the wonderful and exciting dish of Henry's "Pond" fish course, and use of pigs head and snails main course being replaced with "safe" lobster and meat and two veg food. Very cheffy, but not very exciting to watch - bad luck Henry.

  • Comment number 6.

    This is really a comment to BBC webpage designers/managers. I don't understand why there isn't a homepage for the Great British Menu that tells us useful stuff in a sensible layout. I'd like to see which region is going to be on when, who is cooking for each region and information on what has happened so far - who is still in it etc. Instead we get options to watch clips or iplayer stuff. That doesn't work for anyone not in the UK or for people who want info on what has happened so far but not to watch whole programmes.

  • Comment number 7.

    Great British Menu has now become a programme that I can't watch live,
    Sky Plus allows me to fast foward through the continual repeated
    statements and uninformative drival of Jennie Bond. What does she
    bring to the programme.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think the format of the current series of the Great British Menu which has chefs shortlisted by a fellow chef from the same region is tricky to say the least.It does not take into account the rivalry between chefs (given the benefits to their establishments from such exposure).I dare to suggest that Tristan Welch was eliminated unfairly - his dessert was superior to the one which got through-but he was more of a threat to Jason Atherton.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good to see Michael Portillo presenting another series of Great British Railway Journeys , so informative great TV . Well done Beeb

  • Comment number 10.

    The Great British Railways Journeys are superb and I'm particularly enjoying the West Highland line, however shouldn't this be 'Caledonia's West Highland Line' rather than 'Hibernia's' - just a small point. Tremendous.


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