BBC Two is a mainstream channel. Distinguished by a spirit of bold creativity as its defining characteristic and armed with curiosity and wit, we are here to provide stimulating television to a broad but demanding audience.
We embrace all genres but Factual programming remains integral to our purpose. We aspire to be a place where viewers expect to find the finest Arts, History, Science and human interest Documentaries, as well as the best-loved formatted leisure programmes anywhere in British television - output that is intelligent and rich in content, yet thoroughly accessible and entertaining.
In Comedy and Entertainment, BBC Two encourages creative risk-taking by commissioning series of real distinctiveness and originality. Likewise, we relish Drama that chimes with the channel's core values: ambitious, stimulating, emotionally engaging single plays and series that are both powerfully expressive of our times and very enjoyable to watch.
Popular Factual, Specialist Factual and Documentaries
The ability to launch ambitious factual programmes – the lifeblood of the channel's identity – at the core of the peak-time schedule is the most important task and I'm very pleased to see programmes such as The Love Of Money and Welcome To Lagos achieve such reputational success.
But BBC Two is about speaking intelligently to broader audiences too, and I'm deeply committed to developing more original Factual series with the potential to engage large numbers of viewers hungry for meaning, like The Normans, Wonders Of The Solar System and Gareth Goes To Glyndbourne.
BBC Two should be the natural home for lively Presenters with something to say and a passion to communicate what they know. Nurturing new talent is key to BBC Two's purpose, and I'm especially pleased that this year sees new authoritative faces added to the channel's factual landscape: Amanda Vickery, Robert Bartlett and Mary Beard.
What makes BBC Two truly unique is not just the quality of its creative ambition but also providing the wide and eclectic mix of what viewers find interesting. Our discerning but diverse audiences want the channel to deliver pleasure alongside substance with irreverence, originality and wit. Established favourites like Top Gear, Dragons' Den, The Hairy Bikers and The Supersizers have recently been joined by Lambing Live, The Great British Bake Off, Edwardian Farm and I’m In A Rock 'N' Roll Band. All show that it is possible to combine genuinely informative content with Entertainment values in a way that widens BBC Two's appeal without diluting its distinctiveness. I want to go on exploring new programme concepts and territories that keep us forward-facing and responsive to what viewers enjoy as well as what they want to know.
Of course, we also cherish our content-driven Factual - the channel's thoughtful, propositional Arts, History and Science output that tackles big ideas with creativity and verve - ranging from strands like Horizon and The Culture Show, to major series such as An African Journey With Jonathan Dimbleby, Secret Iraq and singles like Louis Theroux or Nick Robinson’s rapid response Five Days That Changed Britain.
BBC Two Drama will put a premium on fine writing that is sharply contemporary in its depictions of life in Britain and around the world and three upcoming six part series The Shadow Line by Hugo Blick, The Hour by Abi Morgan and White Heat by Paula Milne demonstrate this while Mark Gatiss’s adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel The Crimson Petal And The White is a great example of literary adaptation which distinguishes itself from the genre elsewhere on TV. We want to commission scripts that demonstrate the intelligence, sophistication and creative ingenuity that our viewers have come to expect.
As ever, some of BBC Two's most acclaimed singles and series (including Five Minutes Of Heaven, Worried About The Boy, Dive and The Secret Diaries Of Anne Lister) have been inspired by real events, and the channel will continue to support factual drama. Here we want to commission films of emotional depth and narrative power.
Comedy and Entertainment
In a channel dominated by Factual programming, fictional output is hugely important – a channel needs a heart as well as a head. I was delighted with the success of two examples of naturalistic, contemporary series, Rev and Whites, which showed that it was possible to make pre-watershed Comedy that felt modern, fresh and attractive.
As the original home of many classic Comedies, including The Catherine Tate Show and The Office, as well as ground-breaking Entertainment panel shows such as Have I Got News For You, QI, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Mock The Week, BBC Two has always welcomed adventurous, cutting-edge ideas and formats that become much-loved features of the TV landscape.
As a mainstream channel, we actively seek to commission programming that is appreciated by the widest possible audience, by commissioning original, distinctive, yet irrepressibly enjoyable programmes that will become appointment-to-view TV in the heart of the peak-time schedules. The reinvigorated and content-rich Masterchef: The Professionals and The Great British Bake Off are taking their places alongside established favourites like Top Gear and Dragons’ Den.
The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice
Recent programme highlights
Filmed on the ground in Iraq, Secret Iraq was a landmark two-part Documentary that shed new light on the dramatic story of Iraq after the fall of Saddam, with unique access to Iraqi insurgents who spoke about their operations against coalition forces, and the motives which drove them.
Wonders of the Solar System, a five part series, combined stunning photography, beautiful scenery and amazing facts to reveal just how lucky we are to live on a planet that has enjoyed such a long period of stability. The more that Brian Cox explained about how everything fits together across the universe, the more miraculous it seems that civilised life was ever able to develop on Earth.
Ten homebakers take part in a 'bake off', which will test every aspect of their baking skills as they battle it out to be crowned the The Great British Bake Off's Best Amateur Baker
In his three part history of The Normans, Professor Robert Bartlett examined the extraordinary expansion and unchecked ambition of the Normans, and showed how they transformed the history of Europe.
The tone of the channel
Central to the channel's ethos are programmes that are surprising, celebratory, witty, warm, adventurous, intelligent, playful, informative, and authoritative.
Later... With Jools Holland
BBC Two is a broad-based mainstream channel that naturally skews to an older audience. However our key focus is to appeal to a heartland of viewers aged 35-54 and to reach out to a more culturally diverse audience.
A 35-54 year old audience is a very diverse group in terms of lifestyle and interests, but united by having come of age as consumers in the first age of multichannel and having clear expectations of TV as, first and foremost, a medium of entertainment. We want even more smart, stylish, intelligent shows that can become must-see viewing for this demanding generation.
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Latest BBC Two news
The first image has been revealed of the new Dragons’ Den line-up and the three new business entrepreneurs.
The BBC has announced a major new season of programmes across television and radio dedicated to one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world - India.
BBC Two has today announced the on-screen talent for exciting new global fishing competition The Big Fish (working title): Ben Fogle will present alongside expert UK fisherman Matt Hayes as judge.
Kim Shillinglaw, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, and Alison Kirkham, Head of Commissioning for Factual Formats & Features and Live Events, have commissioned Employ Me (working title), a three-part series from Optomen.
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