Edinburgh TV Festival 2012 'Meet the Controller' session with Zai Bennett & 2013 BBC Three preview
The Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival has kicked off and it's one of the few times in the year when the TV community takes time to discuss the challenges facing the industry.
I've now been the Controller of BBC Three for just over a year and my plans are taking a firm shape. It's been an amazing year in which we won two BAFTAs (for factual and drama series) and have just co-hosted the London Olympics out of which we are launching our biggest ever Autumn season. In a session earlier today I was interviewed about the year so far and my vision for the channel.
For me, BBC Three should have a creative or social purpose in everything that we do. Creatively we are a channel that should take risks, our mantra at BBC Three is that we are never afraid to try new things. Myself and the team are working hard to ensure we try to fulfil that promise in our programming, our online and social media offerings, as well as in our marketing and promotions. It is a mantra that informs everything we do on the channel.
It's a unique moment as we are in the middle of our Autumn launch bringing our viewers the greatest range of new titles ever shown on BBC Three. Alongside the return of the BAFTA-winning Our War, we've had our biggest ever sitcom launch with Jack Whitehall's Bad Education. Our political and social satire show The Revolution Will Be Televised has just started causing a bit of a stir among their targets and we are about to launch Be Your Own Boss where Richard Reed is risking up to £1m of his own money investing and mentoring Britain's young entrepreneurs. Fantastic new sitcoms Cuckoo and Some Girls will launch across the next couple of months along with the second series of Unzipped with BBC Three's funniest bromance couple, Greg James and Russell Kane.
Joining our outstanding comedy and entertainment shows is a raft of gripping, relevant factual programming like Tourettes: Let Me Entertain You and Unsafe Sex In The City. We have confirmed our on-going commitment to important factual seasons with The Body Beautiful coming up before the end of the year.
In addition to our current Autumn launch which is airing right now, I have today announced a host of new shows for the channel. Key among these is a brand new drama for next year on BBC Three called In The Flesh from Dominic Mitchell and BBC Drama North. It goes where no Zombie drama has gone before - the re-integration of Zombies into society.
In comedy we have announced that we are giving real life sketch show Boom Town a series run along with re-commissions for hot new sit-com Bad Education and our new comedy talent vehicle, Live At The Electric.
I have also confirmed a major factual season on Birthing Britain for early next year with two new series - Dads In the Delivery Room (w/t) and New Kids On The Block (w/t) joining four brand new one-off documentaries. Following on from the award-winning documentary Poor Kids, BBC Three has commissioned a new two-part documentary focusing on Poor Teens which will air later this Autumn. We have also ordered a one-off personal investigation into Multiple Sclerosis by Jack Osbourne who has recently been diagnosed with this destructive condition.
We have also started to achieve one of my key aims which is to form a family of talent that people recognise as being from BBC Three, with emerging stars like Stacey Dooley, Cherry Healey, Russell Kane and Greg James joining more established names like Reggie Yates and Russell Howard on the channel. But I also want BBC Three to be always working with new talent, writers and directors. We have initiatives in Comedy and Factual to facilitate this.
In Comedy, under the Feed My Funny banner, we invest in short and long-form pieces across the year, helping new comedians hone their skills and start to get serious exposure. In factual we run a scheme called Fresh which gives new directors a chance to make their first full TV films for BBC Three which will then air in prime-time on the channel. New talent is the lifeblood of BBC Three and these initiatives ensure we have a healthy supply line for the future.
It's been a busy year running a channel which is the most-watched digital channel for the hours it's on, as well as being the most popular for young audiences in the UK. It's a huge responsibility looking after any channel, particularly a BBC one, and I hope it will also continue to be a fun experience and our viewers will continue to value our high-quality programming.
Zai Bennett is Controller of BBC Three