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At BBC Children’s 'Everyone’s Welcome'

Alice Webb

Director, BBC North and BBC Children's

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How often have you breezily said ‘Everyone’s Welcome’?  Probably as a throwaway invite to your impromptu BBQ or a school open day.  It’s a phrase we all use without a second thought. 

But 'everyone’ does deserve a second thought - after all, you're 'everyone, I'm 'everyone' - we're all 'everyone'.

At the BBC 'everyone' really are at the heart of what we do.  We create a huge variety of content every day, making sure above all it is accessible for ‘everyone’. From gran and granddad to the littlest and newest members of the family, there really is something for all and it’s those smallest members of the family who are the heart of our new marketing campaign for our pre-school channel CBeebies.

That's because we're all worth representing and celebrating on screen, on-air and online - no matter our background, lifestyle, families, skin colour, choices or anything else that makes us all uniquely us.

And it's this uniqueness and diversity our new campaign 'Everyone's Welcome' celebrates.  It's a campaign that shows just how young children see the world, and quite frankly they see things differently to how you and I might. 

That's why we asked pairs of best friends from across the UK “What makes you different from each other”? From lettuce love (and hate!) to hard-hitting opinions on ketchup and toe size, these kids know what’s important – friendship, openness and respecting each other’s differences, a lesson we can all learn from.

Their unscripted and natural responses is just what you would expect and demonstrates that children don’t make assumptions about people and their differences in the way that all too often grown-ups do.

It’s a truly heart-warming campaign which is sure to raise a smile, tapping into the cheeky and imaginative minds of that innocent and thought-provoking group. After all, how often is it the small person in your life who says it like it really is? A teaser of the trail is at the top but you can see the whole of it tomorrow right before Doctor Who on BBC One – 18.43 to be exact if you want to set your reminders!

And the joy of running BBC Children's is I only have to look to our young audience and their view on the world to find inspiration and direction for our diverse range of content.  Anyone who has seen children engage with CBeebies content understands the power it has to help shape their views.

CBeebies and CBBC, our channel for 6 - 12 year olds, are accessible and inclusive and take pride in ensuring all children feel their lives are reflected on screen – whether in terms of where they live, what their ethnic background is, or their different abilities.  It's a responsibility we take very seriously and our young audience does too.  

 Perhaps that is one of the reasons that programmes commissioned by CBeebies Controller, Kay Benbow, are cherished by families up and down the country – including our most recent pre-school drama Apple Tree House.  This delightful show follows Mali, a young boy who moves into an inner city estate, making new friends with a variety of different backgrounds.  And later this year our CBeebies viewers will also be treated to new animation series Pablo about a boy with autism who creates an entire world from his imagination.  Not only is the star of the show autistic, but so are all the cast and from own personal experiences they've all contributed to the scripts too.  Diversity is not just skin deep at BBC Children's. 

I’m so immensely proud of the brave and creative content that Cheryl Taylor, Controller, CBBC have been commissioning to achieve this.  For example, CBBC strands such as the award winning documentary series My Life which reflects the lives of children all across the world and Marrying Mum and Dad, which celebrates families of all shapes and sizes. Or Dumping Ground our hugely popular drama about kids growing up in care.  Or maybe Millie Inbetween that finds the comedy of living in a household with divorced parents.  I could go on, the list of genuinely and naturally diverse stories and people on BBC Children's television is impressive by anyone's standards.  

Which is perhaps why BBC Children's Production picked up the prestigious Change Makers Production Company of the Year Award at the Creative Diversity Network this week.  Yes, it's self indulgent to shout about one's own success - but I think our content speaks for itself - see what you think. 

At BBC Children's we have high expectations when it comes to diversity and rightly so. Not because we are driven by targets or grown-up expectations, but because we are driven by the views and outlook of our young audience.  That's why 'everyone's welcome' is never a throw-away line at CBeebies - it's our first thought, it's who we are and who we're proud to service.

Alice Webb is Director, BBC Children's

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