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Drama on BBC One

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Ben Stephenson discusses Drama on BBC One

Controller: Ben Stephenson


Commissioning Slots

  • Series: six - ten x 60 minutes. Weekdays at 9pm. 
  • Serials: two x 90 minutes / three – eight x 60 minutes at 9pm.  


Current Commissioning Steer

BBC One has a wide, naturally diverse audience and we need to ensure there’s something for everyone to enjoy. We’re looking for a broad range of Drama on this channel – both in terms of format and subject matter. Six or eight part Dramas have a place alongside shorter serials, singles and the established long-running shows such as EastEnders and Casualty

Gaining and rewarding new types of audiences is critical. Although broad-based ratings winners are important, programmes such as Our Girl speak to a younger demographic and bring in a new, harder to reach audience. We won’t commission specifically for younger audiences, but are keen to commission programmes that, like Sherlock, can appeal to many types of viewer. 

We want to challenge our audience and the boundaries of BBC One and are keen to take more ambitious risks with edgier programmes such as Happy Valley.

We want modern stories, reflecting the world and the tastes of contemporary British audiences but also pushing them. There is a place for period Drama on BBC One, but period pieces that are commissioned need to have a fresh and different angle.

Coming up, there will be more single Dramas such as The C Word and The Ark. But series' remain the mainstay of the channel and we are interested in new series ideas of all shapes and sizes, both returnable and non-returnable.

Mid-week at 9pm remains a critical focus. However, it’s worth remembering there are currently several returning series in this slot. 

Saturday night at 7pm - the Doctor Who and Atlantis slot - is massively important, especially for younger audiences. We are looking for more of these types of Dramas but the bar is very high.

8pm on Sunday and weekdays are currently less of a priority and we don’t specifically commission with Sunday night slots in mind. However, we are interested in trying new and different things in these slots, as we’ve recently done with Our Girl. 


Find out more about the BBC One Channel Strategy.


Where are the opportunities available?

We have limited opportunities remaining in 2015/16 with more available in 2016/17 and beyond within the In-house Guarantee, the WoCC and the Independent Quota.
 

How should I submit my ideas and who should I pitch to?

All proposals should be submitted via BBC Pitch to the relevant Genre Controller or Commissioner.

Find contacts in BBC Drama commissioning.


Information reviewed 14 October 2014

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