Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

EastEnders joins forces with Michael Wood and Wallace & Gromit to inspire a life full of learning for BBC audiences

Saul Nassé

The BBC today launches a new strategy to put learning right at the heart of the BBC and provide learning opportunities for all audiences. Utilising the power of the BBC's big brands and key talent, BBC Learning hopes to make sure that everyone is given the opportunity to learn new skills, knowledge or ideas.

The BBC's learning department, which is part of BBC Knowledge, is spearheading the new strategy but all the BBC's platforms, genres, regions and nations will be involved in making it a reality. A new contestable learning fund of £5million is being created next year to enhance the learning impact of key content across the entire BBC whether made in-house or by indies. And a learning exchange will be set up with a small team being able to offer advice on education, creativity and partnerships.

New initiatives announced today include a new series of the EastEnders online spin-off drama E20; a new daytime literacy campaign; a new series designed to get the nation "hands on" with history and face-to-face events for the new Brian Cox series, Stargazing. BBC Learning has also committed to spend more on television shows aimed at adults who need help with basic skills and invest in learning projects aimed at older teens on BBC Three.

Controller of Learning, Saul Nassé, says: "When I was a child I was inspired to study science by Raymond Baxter on Tomorrow's World, a show I later went on to edit. I want everyone in Britain to have a similar story of how the BBC enriched their life.

"I want to use BBC programmes that are known and loved by audiences that can serve as springboards for learning, whether that be a drama or a documentary. Many broadcasters "inform" and "entertain" but we are the only one that has "educate" at the heart of our public purpose. We have a wealth of content at our disposal and I want to ensure we are making the most of it – making it accessible and available to all."

The new Learning Strategy aims to maximise the learning potential of all the BBC's output and provide opportunities for everyone to learn that bit more – be it simply by attending a Bang Goes The Theory roadshow or by utilising online resources to help study for a crucial GCSE.

Saul says: "We'll be enlisting the help of the BBC's best talent to maximise the reach of our output; inviting key presenters such as historian Michael Wood to film pieces that can be played directly into the classroom."

Key to the BBC's new Learning Strategy will be investing in programmes that can inspire interest from a mainstream audience such as Bang Goes The Theory (BBC One) and EastEnders. Working with EastEnders, Learning will be funding the new series of the online drama E20. They will work with young people to develop storylines that bring to life subjects in the Personal, Social, Health Education (PHSE) curriculum such as bullying or peer pressure.

The new strategy also seeks to target those adults who need help with basic skills. In partnership with BBC Daytime, BBC Learning is going to mount a major adult literacy event which will include factual and drama on BBC One, outreach partnerships and online elements. In the late Seventies the series On The Move, starring Bob Hoskins, was a catalyst in an extremely effective literacy campaign which helped tens of thousands of people. The BBC will be inviting television dramatists to come up with a compelling contemporary drama that will serve as the lynchpin of the new campaign to tackle adult literacy levels today.

Science and History are two areas BBC Learning will be focusing their resources.

BBC Learning has funded the new series Wallace & Gromit's World of Inventions (BBC One) and will be taking the show around the country with a series of roadshows and workshops, to be announced shortly, designed to inspire an interest in inventing and science. Learning will also be supporting the two new Brian Cox series' Wonders Of The Universe and Stargazing. Stargazing events will be held across the UK with science centres, observatories and national parks joining in with a series of star parties and stargazing walks to encourage public engagement.

Building on the success of the new series Michael Wood's The Story Of England, BBC Learning is going to commission a new eight-part series The Story Of The Nation (BBC Two). This landmark Michael Wood series will tell the story of our country through communities investigating their local history. It will be accompanied by 15 regional programmes showcasing local places viewers can visit for themselves to get "hands on" with history.

Everyone who is inspired by BBC content will have the opportunity to find out more, deepen their knowledge and get invlved with events in their local area. A new "Things to Do" activity finder will bring together the very best activities organised by the BBC and its partners off the back of great TV, radio and online content. Not only will the site highlight the events that bring people together, such as the CBBC Deadly Days Out that are currently drawing audiences of thousands of families, it will provide the opportunity for "on location" content provided direct to mobile phones such as Countryfile trails.

Providing resources for teachers and students will continue to be critical to the work of BBC Learning. So Bitesize will continue as the cornerstone of our online portfolio but, together with the Teachers site, it will become more interactive and draw more on core BBC talent. Online adult learners will be targeted through Skillswise, Webwise and BBC Connect.


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