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Features and Formats on BBC Two

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Alison Kirkham discusses Features & Formats on BBC Two

Head of Commissioning: Alison Kirkham

New Factual Entertainment Opportunities:

BBC Two is seeking to refresh its popular Factual Entertainment and Formatted Factual offering with a number of new Formats.

In the past BBC Two has developed outstanding shows such as Top Gear, Dragons' Den, The Apprentice, Robot Wars, Who Do You Think You Are? and The Great British Bake Off

We want to find the new shows which will define the next generation of Factual Entertainment and Formatted Factual on the channel.

We want to encourage a range of ideas which will offer genuine refreshment and surprise in this area. 

So what are the new areas of lifestyle, home activities and hobbies which should follow on from The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee, The Patch, and The Great Interior Design Challenge?  What are the new kinds of adventurous formats which will attract a broad but slightly more male skewing audience like Top Gear, Dragons' Den and The Apprentice: You’re Fired?  What are the lessons of other rigged/user generated shows for the future of people-watching?  How can we turn the dial and find the new version of competitive formats like Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off with real scale?

We are open to free-standing or returning Formats but we would like them all to feel modern, witty, warm and innovative. They should push the boundaries in terms of what BBC Two has tried before in this area but without alienating the heartland audience. 

Please note: Popular Factual Entertainment ideas for BBC Two can also be pitched via the Entertainment Commissioning team.

* Read the latest Features and Formats Commisioning priorities, updated on 26 September 2014.

Commissioning slots

New Factual Entertainment slots:

  • Sunday night 8 or 9pm, 60 minutes – this is the territory available when Top Gear and Dragons' Den are not on the air. It is broad but very slightly more male skewed. It has a sense of scale.  
  • Midweek 8 or 9pm, 60 minutes – this is where The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee and The Choir have played and tend to be shows of broad family appeal and a positive aspirational feel.
  • Weeknight 10pm, 30 minutes – we are planning some more Formatted Factual or Factual Entertainment in weeknight 10pm slots. This is an opportunity to experiment with a Format or a piece of talent and these shows could skew a little younger.  

Ongoing Features and Formats slots:

  • Big returnable hour long formats for 8pm. Flexible on shape - closed episodes or narratives building across several weeks. Big precinct ideas with a contemporary entertainment sensibility.
  • Ambitious event-driven Features at 8pm or 9pm. Think about innovative shapes: it might be live or could be stripped.
  • Sunday night male skewing Features or Formats series for 9pm.

Please see the Entertainment on BBC Two page for Factual Entertainment commissioning opportunities that can also be pitched via the Features & Formats team.

Where are the opportunities available? 

Opportunities exist within the WoCC for 2015/16. Please note that a number of hours are targeted at the Nations and Regions. 

Ongoing Features and Formats Opportunities:

  • The contemporary: Find inspiration from everyday life, make us see familiar everyday things with new eyes and a fresh perspective. Take BBC Two into the contemporary world.
  • Entertainment: Being entertaining is as key as being informative. Features should sometimes be rich in emotion or have a sense of fun.
  • Talent: This is key. We continue to look for strong, charismatic experts to drive propositions. Alex Polizzi, The Hairy Bikers and Tom Kerridge are people we love.
  • Innovative shapes: Create more Features and Formats/Specialist Factual hybrids to add distinctiveness to traditional features areas and national obsessions. 
  • Ambition: How can we innovate and take risks with form and subject areas to create brands which feel like unusual treats in the schedule.
  • Develop new territories: On BBC Two last year we landed three new property titles (The House That 100k Built, The Great Interior Design Challenge, Under Offer: Estate Agents On The Job).  Previously we’ve developed Business programmes with Alex Polizzi - The Fixer. What other subject areas can we develop into? Try to think about territories that haven’t been on the channel for a while and think about how we might be able to layer over a shape that has the potential to return and entertain as well as inform. 
  • Events/moments for the channels which sit above business as usual eg Stargazing LIVE and Springwatch etc. What are the next generation?
  • Sunday night ideas:  Sunday nights are an important slot for us. Programmes like Toughest Place To Be A..., Indian Ocean With Simon Reeve, Dragons' Den and obviously Top Gear appeal to an intelligent broad male audience but avoid being too testosterone fuelled so also bring a female audience. We need more shows for this slot. What might an intelligent male skewing Entertainment format look like here? Needs to be more than just ‘lovely but gentle travel’.
  • Documentary format: Other subgenres and channels have had success with shows like The Choir and Wartime Farm.  What interesting, dramatic Documentary access can we lightly format and package up in a returnable shape that will bring an audience back week in week out?
  • Competitions: What is the next generation The Great British Bake Off or The Great British Sewing Bee?  Moving forwards it would be great to think of different shapes with which to offer the audience a series arc rather than just an episode arc.  

Find out more about the overall BBC Two channel strategy.


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

All proposals should be submitted via e-Commissioning to the relevant genre Controller or Commissioner. 

Find contacts in BBC Features and Formats and Entertainment commissioning.

Information reviewed 18 August 2014

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