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BBC One - reflecting the nation

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Danny Cohen Danny Cohen | 15:00 UK time, Saturday, 27 August 2011

I've been the Controller of BBC One now for ten months and have begun to put new plans in place to make the channel as vibrant and creative as it can possibly be.

One of the big things for me is to try and make sure that BBC One offers something for everyone and does a good job of reflecting the nation back to itself. BBC One is the Nation's Favourite Channel, and I think it's important that all licence-fee payers find plenty on BBC One that informs, educates and entertains.

With this in mind, I hope that the programmes you see on this preview video are enticing - and encompass the quality, scale, thoughtfulness and entertainment values that I want BBC One to deliver.

The programmes previewed include brand new drama Call The Midwife starring Miranda Hart and Jessica Raine, the epic new natural history series Frozen Planet, and new comedy starring Sir David Jason, The Royal Bodyguard. It is thrilling to have Sir David returning to the BBC for his first comedy since Only Fools and Horses, and this video gives you the very first exclusive snippet of a show that is currently still in production.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to announce a raft of exciting new commissions for BBC One.

In Drama, we've just given the green-light to The Village - a bold new series from Peter Moffatt. It's the story of one man's journey through the 20th Century, beginning with his humble childhood on a downtrodden farm. The Village is one of those scripts you read and can't wait to see realised on-screen from the moment you turn the final page. It has the richness and emotional depth of the very finest television writing.

Also on its way for BBC One viewers is Fight For Life, a major new natural history series which will use the latest live technology and filming techniques to tell the story of young animals right across the world. This is a very ambitious new live event for BBC One that we hope will bring viewers closer to the daily experience of wild animals than they have ever been before.

In entertainment, we're delighted to be able to announce a new series starring one of Scotland's brightest young talents, Kevin Bridges. BBC One should simultaneously be the home of Britain's national treasures in comedy and also a place where new talent can flourish. We are therefore thrilled to be working with Kevin, who combines brilliant jokes with an acute vision of human nature.

Finally, I'd like to announce two new projects that introduce a new level of risk and experimentation to BBC One. BBC One should be known for boldness, quality and mainstream impact, but I'd also like it to be known for a commitment to risk and innovation that is unusual on a mainstream channel.

To this end, we've commissioned a six-part improvised drama series from Dominic Savage for BBC One - Love Life - that will test the boundaries of fiction on the Channel. We are also announcing a run of new transmittable comedy pilots in order to supercharge the comedy development process for BBC One. Our aim here is to use a run of transmittable pilots as a way of reaching out to joyous new things, in the way we managed with Being Human on BBC Three.

So, from the African savannah to a small English village, from major live events to one of Britain's hottest young comic talents, these commissions show the range and ambition we have for BBC One, and our aim to combine world-class quality with risk and innovation.

Thanks again for taking the time to read this and watch the video - and I hope you find plenty to enjoy on BBC One in the coming months and years.

Danny Cohen is Controller of BBC One

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

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  • Comment number 15.

    BBC One reflecting the nation? No way, except perhaps a certain section of society that existed in certain 1970s comedies, but not the real society.

    And:

    Moderators you might as well 'censor' [my word, you say 'Remove' in a nineteen eighty-four-esque manner] this comment now without reading any further because it is to do with the BBC not replying to criticisms about Formula 1 coverage. If you are hacked off with these comments please address an email to Ben Gallop (AKA The Invisible Man) because it is his department which has joined in a partnership with Sky Sports to remove half the Grands Prix from live terrestrial television. Two more years had been promised, but that was not delivered.

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  • Comment number 26.

    Reflecting the nation? What a joke...

  • Comment number 27.

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  • Comment number 29.

    I note the presence of Drama, Documentary, Entertainment/Comedy and Reality tv ['The Voice' £22m, I believe, for Pop Idol behind a curtain]. If BBC One is to offer "something for everyone and [do] a good job of reflecting the nation back to itself" and to continue to be "the Nation's Favourite Channel" then Sport should also be included.

    If we look at the 2011 BBC Trust report '[t]he BBC’s processes for the management of sports rights' we note that Formula 1 helps attract a younger (16-34) male audience that is otherwise hard to reach. F1 is an event "of national resonance that bring[s] the nation together" and so when in 2008 "[t]he BBC had recently failed to acquire a major football right (FA Cup)" "Formula 1 offered an ideal replacement (a key sports right that would help meet major reach and target audience goals). The BBC thus moved to acquire Formula 1 even though it was not considered as an option in the 2008 strategic plan as the right was not expected to be available." Furthermore, "Formula 1 has been a significant success in 2009/10, exceeding all of its reach, average audience and cost per viewer hour targets", it appears one of only two sports to do so on the BBC.

    So, in 2008, the BBC was clever enough to leap in and acquire such a sports right. Now, is it so clever to throw away such a "key sports right"?

    Please answer.

  • Comment number 30.

    @15 - Protest
    Nice to see you here.
    Speak to you soon

    Nice to see some new & old freinds from the other blogs as well.

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  • Comment number 33.

    Not so much a protest about F1 but an observation....

    The only programme on BBC1 worth watching apart from the news (although News 24 has eroded that) is the Grand Prix coverage. Without that, where does BBC1 go? Dross like Eastenders. Holby City, The Lottery Show etc can't fill the schedule surely? Perhaps with this lack of material BBC1 will merge with BBC2?

  • Comment number 34.

    Will try to keep up with all the posts here on this blog & on Andrew Benson's. I may not be online as much as I want to, as I pursue my other links & contacts.

    Be assured that if I do not respond, as soon as I have checked out all posts & played catchup, I will.

    If I have any updates of things moving with my other contacts etc; you will all be the first to know.

    Just got to keep plugging this every day or so for any new members or people who have missed it:

    https://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57

    Also check out the top 10 e-petitions. You might like some of the others or your friends might. If they do, then get them to sign the F1 petition as well. Thanks.

    https://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions?order=desc&sort=count&state=open

    Do not forget you can still sign up even if you do not reide full time inthe UK. If I do not answer you, our resident hero's & my brothers in arms will supply the info!!

    See you all soon.
    BNW

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  • Comment number 40.

    Oh your so open, pull the other one.

  • Comment number 41.

    There's a theme running here about F1 - intelligent people are passionate about the sport, 6million per race thus far this year, a number many mainstream shows on the BBC can only dream of - yet the BBC went and sold half of the exisitng rights to Sky, then just as you think you can't do anyhting worse, you continued to pour oil onto the fire with the SKY deal to 2018.

    SKY?? A deal with another free to air channel would of suited us right down to the ground - hell if you wanted ambition maybe disband BBC3 and 4 and open up BBC sports 1&2.

    Overall Mr Cohen, I would say the impact you have had on the BBC for 6million intelligent and passionate sports fans, has been a very negative one, your blog above does nothing to explain the situation and no matter what you do in your tenure the stench of this deal will always make remain within your legacy.

    I sincerely hope you understand the impact your decisions have, our views regarding the BBC.... probably forever are one of distrust - I look forward to watching anything but the beeb in future...... at least until 2018, then I might do a deal with 'Dave' and split my time accordingly.

    I look forward to watching the debate in the commons in the near future.


    Yours bitterly disappointed

    Andrew

  • Comment number 42.

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  • Comment number 43.

    BBC 1 faces a real problem, viz: there is apparently only so much talent out there and there are too many TV channels. BBC 1 appears now to be trying to appeal to a certain demographic which likes soaps, soaps, soaps, polite pointless comedy and stories about royal princes: that list drawn from glancing at my wife's copy of Radio Times. BBC 1 programmes that are so far past their sell by date they would be classed as a health hazard are My Family, New Tricks (which was past its sell-by date even before its first series), One Show, Question of Sport (I despair - mummified rather than past its sell-by date), in fact the list goes on and on.

    The answer? Well perhaps Danny Cohen you are the answer. I won't hang you for trying to clear out what has been left to you. As well as a new controller perhaps it's bravery that will beat the rot. They say travel broadens one's horizons and thet might be the answer if the BBC and its staff can pull it off. What does the average person on the street know about the real America? I would say very little. About Taiwan, China, India, and the rest of the world? A miniscule amount. So BBC 1 perhaps broaden everybody's horizons by taking us to that big wide world out there and explaining it to us. "We sent Stephen Fry across America" you would say and perhaps you have a plan to send him to India and Africa? OK, that's one step. But most TV just pokes fun at those funny foreigners out there - Stephen Fry tnded to do that I thought. The first time you walk down a street in Spain, Holland, USA, Taiwan, France, Australia you realise all you've been shown on TV is 'BS'. The people don't all do those funny quirky things Fry et all show, they walk to work, they eat, they breath, they're rude, they smile, they help you, they sell you things, they beg, they shout, they....but they all do those things differently. So, Mr BBC1 (2011) you have to wrap all that diversity up in a package that isn't patronising, isn't 'oh look at those funny foreigners', isn't boring and fills quite a few hours in the essentially vacuous schedule. How about Outnumbered China-style without just a straight transplant of the British (oh sorry - London) characters into a small town in China? How about the One Show without its present 2nd rate presenters based in Columbus, Ohio?

    Too expensive? Only if you have a big budget. Find a way around that. Think out of the box! Make your expensive 'talent' work and take their smugness away for a change. They won't go? Sack them! The

  • Comment number 44.

    Part 2.....

    Too expensive? Only if you have a big budget. Find a way around that. Think out of the box! Make your expensive 'talent' work and take their smugness away for a change. They won't go? Sack them! They want room service and a new 'Rab' outdoor wardrobe every 5 minutes. Leave them at home. Use local talent instead of taking the regular BBC faces. Send a Scouser who isn't a stereotypical gagsman maybe.

    Break new ground. How would John Simpson present, for example, a programme on a small town poker tournament in Zaragoza? The 'stock' BBC answers? a) send John Simpson to report on a Poker tournament in Zaragoza b) send a quirky person like Magenta Devine to report etc. c) err, Sian Williams? d) Doddy? NO! You find somebody else!

    Easy to say, yes but to do?

    So think out of the box BBC 1. Surprise us!

  • Comment number 45.

    Whilst divesting yourself of the Formula 1 coverage, and graciously donating £15m of our money to sky, do you have any plans to curb the Thirteen Million Pounds annualy which you spend on cab fares for staff and celebs ?.

  • Comment number 46.

    The BBc seems to have fallen into the trap of competing with cable channels by making the same type of programmes that they do eg bad reality shows and talent competitions instead of supporting the large demographics within the licence fee paying public that are excluded by the very nature of these air-time fillers , the latest blow to intelligent viewers was the underhanded deal with Sky over the F1 rights which have enraged the majority of fans with unanswered questions and censorship on a scale rarely seen outside totalitarian dictatorships.
    We rely on the BBC to provide intelligent quality programming that gives an alternative to the appaling rubbish on ITV at prime-time and the cable channels , we also rely on the BBC as the state broadcaster to be fair and responsible in the face of criticism and above all HONEST ..... you are failing on all counts and soon there will be no reason for me to own a T.V and therefore no reason for a direct debit to the BBC , there seems to be a very deep seated rot in the mentality of the people who make the big decisions and its becoming very obvious even to people who have never had reason to question the policys and motives of the BBC before.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hello Danny,

    Could you please answer this ONE VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION.

    Is what the BBC done ILLEGAL?

    In saying that I mean did the BBC check that inviting SKY a PPV (sky) station and blocking other rivals legitimate bids for the rights (i.e Channel 4) whether you (the BBC) have broke Anti-Competition laws?

    From my understanding YOU the BBC had a contract until the end of the 2012 season.
    You the BBC were the only ones in control regarding this contract and you Knew the BBC were unable to meet the contract details you had signed for ONE more year.

    But you the BBC then chose to invite SKY TV to share the right for a further 7 (YES SEVEN) years knowing this would block Channel 4's intended bid for the rights for the 2013 season and the following FIVE years after also.

    I have contacted the OFT and asked them to refer this to the competitions commission as I think this deal is illegal.

    Can you confirm your legal team ensured this was not breaking any laws before entering it?

  • Comment number 48.

    Oh and btw call the midwife , frozen planet and the royal bodyguard have no interest for me at all and stop living on past glories with David Jason , if i want to watch fools and horses ill watch Gold ..... and no i dont want to watch it as it was overhyped rubbish , i hope heads roll at the BBC.

  • Comment number 49.

    Anyone who has tried to complain to the BBC or had their comments on blogs censored will find this nonsense propaganda deeply insulting, I'm sure. There's something so vainglorious about it all, narcissistic may be a better word: reflecting the nation? Reflecting false glory back onto yourselves would be more accurate!

    Mirror, mirror on the wall...

  • Comment number 50.

    I should have added, but so many others have repeatedly asked the same question, why will you not explain in detail the Formula 1 deal? You cannot possibly be unaware of the strength of feeling about this and your refusal to address so many people's complaints makes a total mockery of this cheap piece of P.R.

    Your viewers are not stupid but by continuing to insult their intelligence you are certainly not reflecting the nation. I know it's a waste of time to ask because you've already shown that you do not consider our complaints worthy of any response. As licence payers, we are de facto shareholders in your business and yet we have no say and no right to reply.

    Is there another public company in which the majority of shareholders have no say? Oh yes, there's NewsCorp, where only 25% have voting rights: how ironic!

  • Comment number 51.

    Well Danny, great job so far! Not only have you and your cronies screwed over us F1 fans, there is a possibility in the long run that you have screwed over the sport itself. Less viewers means less sponsorship, which means less money available to teams, which could mean job losses and even teams folding up. Also less viewers means less exposure for the sport so there may be less people wanting to get involved in it.

    When is the BBC going to stop trying to please the minority and think of the majority?

  • Comment number 52.

  • Comment number 53.

    Danny, you forgot to mention the bold and innovative move to start finally showing advertisements on BBC. I refer of course to the lengthy commercials you'll be running for Sky TV next year in place of your F1 coverage.

  • Comment number 54.

    And you ruined F1 by selling out to sky and F1 is a firm viewers ie licence payers favourite so how does that work. And still no news on if we are getting delayed full race coverage which is a compromise or highlights which is a joke. come on BBC get your act together we are not just going to give up and go away

  • Comment number 55.

    Why isnt the BBC responding properly to all the questions raised about next season and F1. Closing the F1 blogs dealing with the matter without any responce just adds insult to injury.

    Why did your commentarys ignore these questions at Spa, this is the only subject F1 fams are intrested in at the moment, yet the one you seem to be trying to ignore.

    When will you respomd to the fans call to show all the non live races in full, highlights are worse than useless.

    Either show every race in full, or allow another FTA channel the chance to develop the coverage, the sky arrangment is useless for anyone whos unable to install a sattelite dish for whatever reason.

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm guessing a lot of licence payers are annoyed about the loss of a proportion of F1 coverage. I'm one of them. Looks as though people's opinions have not been sought. Could save a bit of money by not sending reporters 'on location' to places we know... I don't need to see someone standing outside Parliament every time a political comment is needed. Not interested in the politics of any 'deal' or otherwise between BBC and Sky but extremely annoyed that I'm now expected to subscribe to even more rubbish, brain-rotting channels in addition to my TV licence fee just to see coverage of the only sport worth watching. Thanks for that.

  • Comment number 57.

    https://againstsharedf1.wordpress.com

    Hi Danny

    I am sure you didnt expect the response you received when posting this. I do not want to have a rant as may others have done so. You played a role in this F1 decision, you, the BBC, need to make it clear to the fans why this decision was made. This is unacceptable to what is one of you most popular screenings, sport or otherwise. FOTA and other bodies have discussed he disappointment in this decision and the BBC owe it to us, the licence payers, a honest reason as to why it has come to this. You only need to see the polls on the AgainstSharedF1 forum to see that the BBC has worked with others to effectively damage the sport.

  • Comment number 58.

    Reflecting the nation back to itself? You've made a deal with a man who hates the BBC with a passion, made sure millions of people will not be able to watch the sport they love and have followed for years. Sky Sports doesn't have the number of subscribers in total that watch some single F1 races on the BBC.

    Economic arguments? Of course we all live in straightened times, but the key fact is we ALL do. By giving live F1 to Sky the BBC has ensured that ordinary people would have to pay far more to see these races, and whaddya know - lots of us cannot afford it. Really. We're broke. Mind you, perhaps you are reflecting the nation back to itself by reminding those of use in certain economic circumstances that we are totally excluded from any sport/activity which requires money, including paying for sports channels we can't afford at the moment.

    One more thing: It matters if sport is live. Re-runs and highlights are not a substitute for live sport and to suggest it is is both condescending and insulting to those who follow sport. So many BBC types have said on other blogs that you'll see bits of the other races as highlights or re-runs. If this is indeed true, feel free to show the entire of the Olympics as highlights and re-runs. Please.

    Never mind, you've still got Total Wipeout. Is that what you mean by the image of the nation you want to reflect back on itself?

  • Comment number 59.

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  • Comment number 60.

    I see that Rupert and James Murdoch have been ordered to appear in the high court under oath. Just the type of people that the BBC should be doing deals with, SHAME ON YOU!

  • Comment number 61.

    Well Mr Cohen you may well try to reflect the nation but my report card is mixed. Firstly the positives, documentaries like Ocean giants 10/10, superb. This is what the BBC is great at, IMHO the best in the world. Secondly the dross, Torchwood for example 1/10. Last Thursday's episode was disgusting up until I turned off. What on earth were you thinking of? Disgraceful. Lastly F1 up until now 10/10, superb coverage with great ratings. And then what do you do.....show only half of it to save money? You are kidding me. Would you show half of Wimbledon or the Open Golf or the Olympics? No of course not. Explain yourself how you can give away one of the BBC's best rating sports shows?

  • Comment number 62.

    I find it disgusting that you are removing posts because you deem them to be off topic.

  • Comment number 63.

    You say:
    "(I) have begun to put new plans in place to make the channel as vibrant and creative as it can possibly be."

    Does that include an unoriginal remake of 'You Bet' called 'Epic Win'?
    Does that include an unoriginal rip-off of the 'X-Factor' called 'The Voice'?
    Does that include free advertising for Andrew Lloyd Webber shows like 'I’d Do Anything' etc, etc, etc ?
    Does that include endless repetitive soaps and soap like drama?
    Does that include axing the only unique sport the corporation had, F1?

    It seems that the BBC want desperately to be ITV, because they rapidly becoming so unoriginal, banal and less and less creative.

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  • Comment number 67.

    I must say I think over the years the BBC and BBC1 have been superb at being innovative, most classic programs that we look back on with nostalgia are from the BBC. I am pleased to see that people are attempting to continue to produce great innovative TV and hopefully some more classics will be produced.

    However in light of the BBC sharing F1 coverage with Sky I have to say how disgusted I am with the BBC. Sharing content with a par per view channel when an alternative free to air provider was bidding is disgraceful. This takes viewers opportunities away and I fear that the BBC has forgotten the distinction between the best deal for the licence fee payer, and the best deal for the BBC. As BBC1 Controller I presume you had some influence in this decision, can I ask do you exclusively try to get the best deal for your channel or do you consider the licence fee payer as getting value for money as your primary concern?

  • Comment number 68.

    Reflecting the nation? You mean reflecting the nation apart from the 6 million F1 fans you've just sold out.

    Or should that be reflecting the nation so long as the nation likes repeats, talent shows and depressive soaps?

    I've always been a supporter of the BBC and it's licensing model, but this has, in one fell swoop, convinced me that you need to have your right to the TV license taken away.

    ...and preventing debate on the issue. How many people sent in questions to the F1 Forum after the race this weekend. Were any of those mentioned on air? I think not.

  • Comment number 69.

    For some reason my post no.13 hs now some 4 hrs later been deemed off topic so I will put it this way.
    The blog is entitled BBC 1 reflecting the nation. I would like to know how this claim can be justified when you have effectively renege on BBC executive and trust reports.
    The current programming does not reflect the nation, the are far to many programmes that do not represent anybody, jut look at the viewing figures.
    Having now read most of the BBC exec and trust reports and the BBC charter I am even more baffled by this deal.  In all the reports F1 is reported positively and mention is made of increasing viewing figures.
    Wimbledon this year attracted including highlights 56m viewers.  To date with 7 races left there have been in the region of 40-45m viewers for races alone not including qualifying. So by the end of the season F1 viewing figures will by far exceed all the crown jewel events.
    I think we are due an explanation, as in your recent reports mentioned above you have pledged more openness with the licence payers so please honour this.
    There is mention of a cap of 9p in every licence fee pound allocated to sport. This equates to around £327m, surely enough to show f1?

  • Comment number 70.

    How is cutting one of you most watched shows (which is the F1 coverage in case you didn't relaise) reflecting the nation?

  • Comment number 71.

    The BBC does NOT reflect the nation! However, it might reflect the views of the upper middle class, perhaps.
    The Beeb needs to look closely at the popularity and usefulness of BBC 3 and BBC 4. What are the viewing figures for these obscure channels?

    Watched Spa GP using RTL's live stream on my laptop while listening to 5live at the same time. They use the same broadcast as BBC with very little difference in delay, if anything the RTL stream was slightly ahead of BBC pictures. So the commentary matched the screen picture.
    The only snag is the interruption with adverts, but apart from that it worked great. Not bad for FREE-TO-INTERNET. Next time I'll connect my laptop to the TV.
    Bye Bye BBC. Unless the BBC censor this as well.

  • Comment number 72.

    Reflecting the nation? Thats a bold claim. So what your saying is that we as a nation are a bunch of censoring sellouts, since that is how I think of the BBC and its decision to lock fans out of 50% of the sport.

    Get this right, in your current guise, I do not think you are a reflection of our nation. In fact I'm pretty embarassed by the BBC. In this nation we do not censor, or ignore people with genuine concerns. This is a nation based on free speech and the right to reply. You have not been reflecting this recently. You are no reflection of any nation I live in.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think its hilarious (given both countries history's) that Formula 1 fans are currently having to rely on an RTL feed to watch our sport. So thats a German satellite delivering something to the British after the BBC locked the British out of 50% of Formula 1. I never thought I'd say this, but the Germans have rescued us from the BBC!!!!!!!!!! How hilarious is that!!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    How can cutting your F1 coverage (more viewers than all other terrestrial channels combined) be "reflecting the nation"?

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm closing this and another post to further comments now because they've become a target for F1 protest comments. The strength of feeling on the topic is clear but that's not what this blog post is for so I won't allow the F1 topic to swamp everything else. I'll do the same for other posts if the same happens. Please keep your comments on-topic..

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, About the BBC

 

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