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Ten things you should know about the new BBC Three

Damian Kavanagh

Digital Controller, BBC Three

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A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post outlining what new BBC Three could be. I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some of your questions and clarify a few things before the BBC Trust begin their consultation.

In no particular order.

1. BBC Three is not closing and BBC Three is not for sale.

2. New BBC Three will still continue to make comedy, drama and documentary programmes with the creative ambition of Gavin & Stacey, Being Human, Murdered By My Boyfriend, Cuckoo, Bad Education, Growing Up Down’s, The Mighty Boosh, Him & Her, Nighty Night, The Revolution Will be Televised, Life and Death Row, Don’t Call me Crazy and Our War. This is what we're here to do and we want to build on with the reinvention of BBC Three. We will also make new forms of digital content and short form video for the platforms you use like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

3. Over the years BBC Three has made you think and made you laugh, sometimes both, sometimes concurrently. We know these are not mutually exclusive, nor are they commissioning departments. They are our ‘editorial pillars’ that define what we will make and are what you our audiences have told us they want from new BBC Three.

4. Don’t Tell The Bride is moving to BBC One. Russell Howard’s Good News and Jack Whitehall’s Backchat have moved to BBC Two. We haven’t made Snog Marry Avoid in almost two years and key popular existing programmes which are currently shown on BBC Three but not on BBC iPlayer will remain on other BBC television channels for the time being.

5. We announced on Friday In The Flesh would not be recommisioned. The show has been amazing for BBC Three just like Being Human and The Fades before that, but with a falling income and increased costs BBC Three can only make one drama a year and I want the latest and freshest ideas, ideas that will break new talent on and off-screen. This is part of what BBC Three does and should do. I’m sure those guys will do amazing things just like James Corden and Ruth Jones and Matt Lucas and David Walliams did before them. We will have some exciting news on a new BBC Three drama very soon.

6. You will be able to watch new BBC Three programmes without the internet. All new BBC Three programmes would be on BBC One and BBC Two on Freeview, Sky, Virgin, and YouView as well as BBC iPlayer and a new home on In reality new BBC Three programmes will be available to more people, and seen by a wider audience, than they are now.

The proposal is part of a wider package of measures including a new BBC One+1 channel, changes to BBC iPlayer and CBBC.

7. More young people watch BBC One than any other channel in the UK and they love shows like EastEnders, The Voice, Sherlock, Doctor Who. This is a big reason why we made the decision to move £30m from BBC Three to BBC One drama; to make sure we can develop these shows and make new shows we know young people will love.

8. A new BBC One+1 channel would give people options on when to watch shows like Sherlock, and new BBC Three shows that will air on BBC One. Plus one channels are common place, Channel 4+1 launched in 2007 and ITV1+1 in 2009 so we know they are valued by audiences. A BBC One+1 channel would mean all audiences, both young and old would have another way not to miss their favourite shows and avoid clashes with other broadcasters, something we know you hate.

9. Extending CBBC to 9pm also means our younger viewers are better catered for. We know under 16s watch shows like EastEnders but aren’t well served post 8pm. This will help address that.

10. And finally, the part of the proposal I am most excited about. Freed from the linear schedule new BBC Three would be able to make content younger audiences tell us they want. Content about the issues that matter to them. We would be able do this faster, get it out quicker, and let our audiences know where it is in new ways. We would make content for the places they are, on Snapchat and What’s App, on Tumblr and Facebook, on Twitter and YouTube and most importantly we want you to feel like new BBC Three belongs to you and bring you in to help define what we make, giving you a voice.

I hope these points have addressed some of your concerns and answered some of your questions, but let’s be honest. We are proposing this now because of the financial constraints the BBC faces but that’s not the whole picture. It’s also my belief this is the right thing to do in the long term. We’d be kidding ourselves if we ignored the fact the BBC Three audience is online, and increasingly so. They just are. This proposal meets how young people live their lives. Necessity is the mother of invention and I believe that what we are proposing to do with new BBC Three could lead the world when it comes to public service ‘media’ for generation z.

You can take part in the BBC Trust consultation and have your say on the BBC Trust website.

Damian Kavanagh is Digital Controller, BBC Three


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