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New iPlayer - Celebrating the Best of British Creativity

Victoria Jaye

Head of TV Content, BBC iPlayer

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I’m Victoria Jaye, Head of TV Content, BBC iPlayer.

Today, we unveiled our new look BBC iPlayer, which is beautifully designed to appeal to the growing audience who come to discover something new and different.

Whilst the core of BBC iPlayer’s content remains the BBC’s broadcast channels and programmes, I wanted to use this post to outline the creative opportunity the new BBC iPlayer offers and provide a glimpse of what you can expect to discover over the next few months.

We want BBC iPlayer to be the place that showcases the best in British creativity. There are three key areas of creative innovation we’ll be focussing on in the coming months:

  • New Talent Opportunities
  • New Forms of Storytelling
  • New Ways of Collaborating

 

New Talent Opportunities

New talent is the BBC’s life blood.  We want BBC iPlayer to be where the best up and coming British talent choose to showcase their first work, because we’ll give them the creative freedom to tell the stories they want to tell, supporting them with all the expertise the BBC has to offer. We want BBC iPlayer to be the place audiences go first to see the most exciting work from the big names of the future.

We’ve already commissioned two seasons of comedy pilots on BBC iPlayer called ‘Comedy Feeds’, in collaboration with BBC Three. We’ve found a new generation of exciting on and off screen talent from these. Not only that, three pilots have already been commissioned for BBC Three TV series: Impractical Jokers, Nick Helm’s Heavy EntertainmentandPeople Just Do Nothing.

People Just Do Nothing is a wonderful new talent story. The writers, performers and creators are a group of friends who have never done anything for television before. They filmed themselves doing some 5minute comedy sketches and put them up on YouTube. We saw them, really liked them and commissioned them to write a full half-hour pilot as part of our first season of pilots in 2012. The People Just Do Nothing pilot was the most shared programme on iPlayer in July 2012 and the new four-part series that’s been commissioned for BBC Three, will premiere on iPlayer in May. A third season of pilots will launch on iPlayer later this year -  comedy fans are in for a real treat.

Today, three original drama shorts went live on iPlayer– Flea, Tag and My Jihad. These are not pilots, they are authored films, written and directed by up and coming writers and directors. The brief for the films was to tell stories we hadn’t heard before, to introduce us to characters we’re unlikely to have met and to bring those stories to life in ways we’ve just not seen before. There was no prescribed theme or duration, just the ambition to entertain younger audiences and inspire them to share these stories with their friends. I’m absolutely thrilled with the variety and ambition of each of the three dramas and really excited about planning our second season, which will be available on iPlayer in 2015. Last week Hilary Salmon blogged about how these dramas were made.  

New Forms of Storytelling

BBC iPlayer is consolidating its reputation as a new creative canvas for storytelling. As the rules of fixed durations and transmission slots fall away, we want the finest British talent to come on a creative adventure with us, to pioneer new forms of iPlayer-first storytelling that will delight and surprise our audiences.

Last year, Steven Moffat created an iPlayer exclusive, The Night of the Doctor, to celebrate Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary. The iPlayer opportunity enabled him to unveil the last moments of the Eighth Doctor, as he regenerated into the War Doctor - this was something fans had never seen before. Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss together brought us Many Happy Returns, an iPlayer exclusive, that took Sherlock fans on a journey into a series of seemingly unconnected crimes stretching from Tibet to India to Germany, showing Sherlock Holmes had been gone for two years, but was certainly not dead. It was a wonderful treat to give audiences before the first episode of series 3 on BBC One;each drama attracted over a million views in 7 days.

I’m delighted those coming on the adventure over the next few months include many of Britain’s finest comedians - Meera Syal , Micky Flanagan, Bob Mortimer, Frankie Boyle, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson, Stewart Lee, Reece Shearsmith. Each comedian is doing a comedy short exclusively for BBC iPlayer, a ‘passion piece’ they’ve always wanted to do - these range from an Austro-German medical caper set in the Forties, to a live cookery show. They are as long as they are funny, and will be available on iPlayer from May.

Factual commissions are also entering an exciting new phase on iPlayer. Barry Nugent and David Monteith - British co-founders of podcast sensation The Geek Syndicate, will make their debut documentary for iPlayer, My God, It’s Full of Fans (w/t). The film will be an extraordinary journey into the world of Sci Fi fandom and a fascinating contrast to BBC Two’s history of science fiction documentary, My God, It’s Full of Stars (w/t) .

The creative possibilities of iPlayer have also attracted acclaimed journalist and storyteller Adam Curtis.  Liberated from the traditional constraints of television, Adam’s found a natural home for his work to come alive. He’s agreed to bring us a radical vision of contemporary Britain, exploring the themes of hypocrisy, deception and corruption. His iPlayer trilogy: Out ThereAt The Mountains of Madness and Dream Baby Dream will unfold from July – watch this space.

New Ways of Collaborating

BBC iPlayer opens up a host of new and exciting ways we can collaborate with cultural partners to ‘refuel’ our role in the cultural lives of our audiences. iPlayer viewers will be offered unique access to big ticket festivals, events and exhibitions across the calendar year.

We’re working closely with the RHS to ensure we bring this year’s Chelsea Flower Show to audiences in a spectacular way on iPlayer in May, enabling audiences to enjoy all the show gardens at their leisure, hear from the experts and cast their own vote on their favourite garden.

We’ll be opening the doors of Tate Modern to iPlayer audiences to enjoy Matisse’s The Cut Outs exhibition in April. Audiences won’t have to queue to delight in this wonderful exhibition, they’ll be guided through selected work by musician, DJ and actor, Goldie.

iPlayer will also be the place where the past is brought back to life. Collaborating with partners, we’ll bring archive content of cultural significance to audiences in inspired collections to mark our important national moments. 

2014 marks the centenary of WW1. The Great War Interviewsare available from today on iPlayer as a BBC Four Collection, were re-mastered by working closely with the Imperial War Museum.  These 13, very personal interviews with veterans, give us a rare and unique insight into the Great War. Curated by Sir Max Hastings, they provide a wonderful complement to our broadcast programmes marking this important centenary. 

That’s a glimpse of what BBC iPlayer will be offering audiences over the next few months, alongside broadcast favourites like EastEnders, Top Gear and Match of The Day. They’ll be more to come, so enjoy browsing. Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below

Victoria Jaye is Head of TV Content, BBC iPlayer

 

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