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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Zai Bennett reveals new programmes for BBC Three at Edinburgh Television Festival

Controller of BBC Three, Zai Bennett

Zai Bennett, Controller BBC Three, reveals today at the Media Guardian Edinburgh Television Festival a range of new programmes for the channel. BBC Three is the current holder of the festival's digital channel of the year and is nominated again for this year's title.

Zai said: "It's been a busy five months since I started with the channel but my thoughts for BBC Three are starting to take shape. These programmes reaffirm my commitment to continue investing in new British comedy and quality documentaries for a young audience."


Billie Piper stars in Tom And Jenny, a high-octane comedy pilot about a feuding couple who, despite splitting up, refuse to leave the house they've bought together. Written by Lee Hupfield, co-writer/producer of Star Stories and The Kevin Bishop Show, and directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie). Made by Objective Productions.

Zai has already announced a new comedy series with Sharon Horgan called Life Story; a comedy about two teenagers on the rocky road from childhood to adulthood called Pramface and a new series of White Van Man with Will Mellor. Also, that he is looking for a live comedy/entertainment show. More information is available on the press release: Zai Bennett announces raft of original programmes for BBC Three


In factual, BBC Three through autumn and winter will commit to scheduling documentaries every Monday night at 9pm.

Zai added: "BBC Three remains the only channel consistently making documentaries for a young audience. I want to give our audience a destination time and place in the schedule – so on Monday's at 9pm they know they will get high quality factual programming from us."

Documentaries to be included in this strand include:

Britain's Youngest Undertaker

In the city of Newport in Wales, a 15-year-old schoolgirl is about to pass from a world of classrooms to one of caskets and coffins – dealing with death on a daily basis. This revealing documentary follows Rachael Ryan as she turns 16, leaves school and becomes Britain's youngest female undertaker – a title previously held by her 22-year-old sister Louise. We'll see if Rachael's cut out to be an undertaker and whether she'll be up to pursuing one particular skill – embalming. For father Mike his daughters represent his main hope in life of passing the business on within the family. But Mike can't quite let go – and so the father/daughters relationship will be tested to the limit. Aside from the extraordinary day job, Rachael will be growing up like all 16-year-old girls – shopping and partying. Can Rachael be sure that a life of death is her destiny?

Made by Oblong Films.

9/11 – Conspiracy Road Trip

The events of 9/11 have led to a number of conspiracy theories. Comedian Andrew Maxwell thinks the conspiracies are unsubstantiated and a dangerous cocktail of disinformation. So in this satirical, sceptical, character driven 90-minutes he's going to tackle the "truth" movement head on by taking five Brits, who all subscribe to the conspiracy theories, on a coach trip to find out what really happened on 9/11.

Made by Renegade.

Truth About Child Brides

Nel Hedayat (presenter of Women Weddings War And Me) is on a journey through India and Bangladesh into the hidden world of child marriages. She's about to discover close up just how child marriages work and what effect they have on the lives of the children involved.

Whilst Nel is no stranger to child marriages: her aunties and grandparents were happily married as children and in the last six months three of her cousins in Afghanistan got married at 14. Nel, a 23-year-old Londoner, feels too young to think about marriage.

In India she attends the wedding of two sisters – both under the age of 12, and meets a couple married off as children who regret missing out on their education and childhood. In Bangladesh, Nel discovers a darker story. Here 66 per cent of girls are married under 18.

In the film we meet a 14-year-old who is expecting her first child and other young women struggling with being married so young. Nel also meets a group of girls who are striving for independence by working in the garment industry rather than being married at 14.

Made by Blast Films.

Finding My Family On Facebook

Jono Lancaster ( Love Me Love My Face ) was given up for adoption at birth and 25 years later attempted to get in touch with his birth parents using his local after-adoption service, only to be told his parents still did not want any contact with him. But, like many other children given up for adoption, Jono has traced members of his birth family through Facebook and meets regularly with the cousins he's found online.

In this film Jono will look at this very modern phenomenon and examine the issues facing families searching for their relatives on social networking sites. As well as following his own story we will see Jono meet staff from after-adoption agencies overwhelmed by the explosion of cases, speak to other people who have been reunited – for better and worse – with their birth families through social networking sites and meet some of the many teenagers on the viral hunt for their families.

Made by Special Edition Films.

My Forced Unwanted Wedding

Two years in the making, this documentary tells the story of two British girls (identities have been changed for protection purposes) trying to escape from forced marriage.

Alia, aged 18, has already returned to the UK after been forced into marriage but now she's under pressure to go back to her husband in Pakistan. Meanwhile, in Bangladesh 17 year old Jessie has been promised in marriage to a cousin more than twice her age. She faces being cast out by her family if she refuses.

My Forced Unwanted Wedding follows both Alia and Jessie as they seek the help of the British authorities. In Bangladesh, a team from the British Consulate travel under police guard to reach Jessie. They must act quickly as the situation could become volatile.

In Britain the police have now set up a network of specialist units to help the increasing numbers of forced marriage victims. The film follows officers from a unit in Lancashire as they try and help Alia.

Specialist Factual

Young, Single And…

Looking for love is tough at the best of times: it's even harder when your pool of potential partners is small. That's the dilemma faced by many young, religious singletons.

In Young, Single And... we get a window into a dating world we rarely get to glimpse at. This irreverent, off-beat, humorous series will look at dating in a Jewish, Muslim, Evangelical Christian and Hindu world.

The series will capture every moment on the young people's journeys – from the awkwardness of a first date to the pressure of a meeting arranged by eager parents. Some of the dates will take place in familiar locations, but other meetings will unfold behind what are normally cultural closed doors, like a social event at the local mosque. By the end of it all, will any of them have formed lasting relationships?

Made by Raw TV.

Born Survivors Season

BBC Three's Born Survivors season returns with hard-hitting, inspirational documentaries in which young people who live with serious issues reveal their strategies for survival. The films tell stories of young people surviving whatever life throws at them.

Gareth Gates' Stammer House

Pop Idol finalist Gareth Gates was a star by the time he was 17. He had to face the pressures of overnight stardom with a crippling stammer that threatened to undermine his new found success and confidence. He enrolled on the radical McGuire programme and it totally changed his life. Ten years on, he's a qualified speech coach and wants to help other young stammerers too.

In Gareth Gates' Stammer House he will take six young men and women who've stammered since childhood and in four intense days aim to transform their lives. Over the four days the group will live and work together in a retreat designed to help them confront their stuttering demons. Gareth, along with a team of coaches will guide the group through a tough regime of exercises, tasks and challenges designed to help our stammerers control their stubborn stutters.

Gareth said: "I'm really looking forward to letting the cameras in, to see not just the everyday struggle people like me go through, but also the positive outcome that can be gained if you put the effort in. Hopefully this documentary will give people an insight into something that most take for granted – speaking!"

The film will follow all six on their journey right through to the ultimate test of seeing if they can put what they've learnt into practice in the real world in a bid to change their lives forever.

Made by IWC Media.

The Growing Pains Of A Teenage Genius

Cameron Thompson is a 13-year-old maths genius. Having passed with the highest grades in his maths GCSE and an A-level already under his belt, he's now taking an Open University degree in applied maths. In a lot of ways Cameron is a normal teenage boy: obsessed with computer games, growing a moustache and a new interest in girls but it is his maths ability that has singled him out. In his hometown of Wrexham this gift has led to him being ostracized and bullied by those his own age.

Misunderstood and confused by the world around him, his parents and experts try to work out why Cameron is the way he is and how to help him fit in. However, when the family moves house, and require Cameron to change school can he continue to balance the need to stay the genius he's always been (and therefore different) with the classic teenage longing to be accepted?

Made by Princess Productions

Sam And Evan – From Girls To Men

18-year-old Sam and 20-year-old Evan are facing the normal teenage issues of trying to get a job and find their way in the world. On top of all this they have to adapt to living together. But their relationship is a totally modern love story as they are both in differing stages of changing their gender from girls to men. This is the story of how they met, fell in love, and embarked on a remarkable transgender journey together to transform their bodies from female to male. The film follows the trials and tribulations they both face along the way, from inner turmoil, to out-and-out prejudice on their doorstep.

Made by NineLives Media.

Kirstie Mills – At The Edge Of Life (w/t)

Kirstie Mills, 21, was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition which means that one day her lungs will fail. Her only hope of extending her life is a lung transplant.

We follow Kirstie as her condition worsens to the extent that she is declared terminal and told that she has only months to live. While she waits to see if she will receive a new set of lungs, she is determined to marry her fiancé, Stuart Tancock, 26, but three days before her wedding she is rushed to hospital as her health becomes critical and it looks like her days are numbered.

Kirstie's story takes her to the very edge of life. Will she be able to fulfil her dream of marrying Stuart? And can she find the strength to survive long enough for a new set of lungs that will give the couple a chance of life together.

Made by Special Edition films

Storm Chaser: The Butterfly And The Tornado sees first-time director Danny Beck on a road trip across the Amercian Midwest with Sam Hall, stormchaser extraordinaire and Epidermolysis Bullosa sufferer. Sam was born with this debilitating condition – her skin is fragile like a butterfly's wings. Despite her condition, every year Sam heads out to Tornado Alley and throws herself into these hives of chaos and destruction.

Deaf Teen, Hearing World sees director Claire Braden take an insightful look into a hitherto closed-off world, challenging preconceived ideas about deaf people and what it means to have a disability. It follows some deaf teens as they come of age and go off to university and dance school – fully immersing themselves in the hearing world for the first time.

Ashley – Impulsive Behaviour follows Ashley, who has ADHD. He can't hold down a job and struggles to contain his behaviour. But there's one thing he is exceptionally good at – he is training to compete at the London 2012 Olympics in judo. Now the Olympics are on the horizon, his behaviour has never been so critical. Ashley – Impulsive Behaviour follows him as he moves in with his new coach, a tough, no-nonsense ex-Olympian, and there is no escape from the intense daily grind of training.

Previously announced, the above three films are part of BBC Three's Fresh scheme, the channel's established scheme for first-time directors looking to break into prime-time film-making which has been running since 2008.


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