Formats and features on BBC Two

Donna Clark discusses Formats and Features on BBC Two

Commissioning slots:

  • Midweek 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 The Choir have played and tend to be shows of broad family appeal and a positive aspirational feel.
  • Sunday night 8pm or 9pm, 60 minutes: Factual Entertainment slot 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. What might an intelligent male skewing Entertainment Format look like here? We’re really keen to crack the next adventure travel series, what extra layers can we add to travel which will make it feel more exciting and more ‘must see’ than celebrities exploring new countries.
  • Big returnable hour long Formats for 8pm week nights: Flexible on shape - closed episodes or narratives building across several weeks. How can we replicate the success of Back in Time for Dinner or Alex Polizzi - The Fixer – entertaining formats but also rich in content. We’re keen to explore property, business and families in a new way.
  • 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 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. Bombay Railway worked really well for us, what other big events can bring structure to our schedule. 
  • Competitions midweek: 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.  Can competitions happen in a different way, do they have to be in a single precinct.  This is a real must-have for us.
  • Friday nights at 60 minutes: The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice brought wit and humour to the channel. Can we emulate that tone across the year? Possibly with a magazine show or a gang shows. 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, we’d love to get into the rural economy here.
  • Immersive History, hour long weeknight slots: What are the new shapes post Back in Time for Dinner,  Wartime Farm etc? 


The key qualities we are seeking for Formats and Features on BBC Two are: 

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/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. Alex Polizzi, The Hairy Bikers and Tom Kerridge are people we love. How can we add to that fold with talent as distinctive as the Two Fat Ladies, Fred Dibnah or Keith Floyd. 

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

Ambition: how can we innovate and take risks with form and subject areas to create brands which feel like unusual treats in the schedule? 

We want to find the new shows which will define the next generation of Factual Entertainment and Formatted Factual and want to encourage a range of ideas which will offer genuine refreshment and surprise in this area. 

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 new areas which should follow on from The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee, 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?

Find out more about the overall BBC Two channel strategy


Where are the opportunities available? 

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


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

Formats and Features overview video

Donna Clark discusses her strategy for Formats and Features

Information reviewed 13 October 2015

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