Formats and features on BBC Two

Donna Clark discusses formats and features on BBC Two

What we’re looking for

We’ve got slots available at 8pm or 9pm, 60 minutes: Factual entertainment slot where Back in Time for Dinner, The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee, The Apprentice and Employable Me play. Shows that work here tend to be of broad appeal and a positive aspirational feel, the BBC Two audience loves to learn and be surprised as well as entertained.  Flexible on shape, closed episodes or narratives building across several weeks. How can we replicate the success of Back in Time for Dinner or Dragons' Den? Entertaining formats but also rich in content. We’re keen to explore property, business and families in a new way. Transformations are important whether they are physical or emotional. 

Competitions midweek: This is a real must-have for us. What is the next generation The Great British Bake off or 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. What are the new areas that people feel competitive in? The Great Interior Design Challenge is working well for us but can competitions happen in a different way? Do they have to be in a single precinct? Don’t limit yourselves in terms of shape or scale of idea, we’ll work with you to make your surprising and ambitious ideas work on the channel. We want all our new ideas to feel fresh and distinctive.

Documentary formats, week nights at 60 minutes: How can we layer an umbrella shape/light format over good access eg Who Do You Think You Are?, The Choir, Employable Me and The Island with Bear Grylls on Channel 4? Keen to think about capturing the drama of documentaries but ensuring returnability with the shape/form.

Ambitious events at 8pm or 9pm: Think about innovative shapes that might be live or could be stripped. Programmes which for the channels sit above business as usual eg Stargazing LIVE, Springwatch etc. What are the next generation? Be ambitious in terms of the sense of event. Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth worked well for us, what other big events can bring structure to our schedule?

Friday nights at 60 minutes: Friday nights are now leisure nights and we’re looking for shows that will play well after Gardeners' World and will take the viewer on an escapist journey. Rick Stein works well here but what else might work? What physical journeys have we not seen before? Mixing food and travel works here but what else might work with travel to give the viewer an uplifting aspirational journey?

Immersive history, hour long weeknight slots: What are the new shapes post Back in Time for Dinner? Audiences loved Full Steam Ahead, is there another way to revisit favourite historical eras bringing a modern feel to history?

Half-hour formats for Monday and Friday nights: They could be consumer shows like What to Buy and Why? or Food Detectives or could be formats which naturally play better at half hours rather than hours.  Is there any new food talent that would work well here?

Low-cost hours available at 7pm: Programmes here can be stripped and commissioned in volume. Big Dreams Small Spaces works well here as does the Great British Menu. Think about how volume can bring scale and innovative shapes.


Key qualities we seek

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. What new trends are coming down the line? Is there a way to capture the mood and passions of our nation in a way that we couldn’t have on TV before?

Entertainment/emotion: We want shows that make you laugh and cry. We want to bring wit and irreverence to the channel.

Talent: This is key. We continue to look for vivid, charismatic experts to drive propositions. The Hairy Bikers, Rick Stein, Nigella, Tanya Byron and Tom Kerridge are people we love. How can we add to that fold with talent as distinctive as the Two Fat Ladies or Mary Portas?

Innovative shapes: We have moved beyond traditional ‘lifestyle features’ in terms of shape and tone, be adventurous, think big!

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.

What are the lessons of other rigged/user generated shows for the future of people-watching? 

Formats and features overview video

Donna Clark discusses her strategy for formats and features

All proposals should be submitted via BBC Pitch to the relevant genre controller or commissioner.


Information reviewed 20 September 2016

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