BBC Three's Miss Holland: The Era of Short-Form Content
Eline Van Der Velden
Creator of BBC Three's Miss Holland
Friday 16 March sees the debut of my comic personality Miss Holland on BBC Three. The satire show is split into six short episodes released over a period of six weeks, each instalment depicts an element of British society that Miss Holland is familiarising herself with. The premise of the programme is to explore British culture through the eyes of a Dutch Beauty Queen and innocently challenge the norms that we accept in British culture.
Whether it’s the beautifying elements of body waxing, spray tanning or make-up application with Love Island’s Chloe Crowhurst or learning Royal Family etiquette with Kate and William’s ex-Butler, Miss Holland interacts with many real-life characters and situations throughout its six-part run and no topic is off the agenda.
I created the character five years ago to shine a light on the weird and wonderful ways of Los Angeles, USA and the expectation that all women should look perfect. LA is a bizarre place where you get asked if you’ve been ill if your nails are unkempt. Slowly but surely many women are forced to adapt to this endless upkeep of beauty regimes and must-have cleavage displays for castings or dates. As American culture creeps into the European way of life, more teenage girls occupy themselves with perfecting the art of contouring as opposed to investing in their ISA. Because unfortunately, beauty is still the highest traded commodity for ladies.
Putting the few savings I had into producing online videos led by an odd Dutch beauty queen was not your average 25-year-old’s idea of fun. Nowadays, though we live in such a wonderful new age where we can pick up a camera and create a series on our laptop. It’s a way to show your idea to the world, however strange it may be.
I would like to applaud BBC Three for creating opportunities for this new generation and allowing them to self-produce, write, direct and edit their own online content. Some ideas work, and some don’t but that’s the beauty of piloting ideas online. Content I have tried and tested online can obtain millions of views and the odd award here and there! But ultimately, it’s a creator’s dream to get picked up by the BBC. New markets might be opening up consisting of the global sales and distribution of short-form content. Furthermore, such content is increasingly valued as a format in its own right and is no longer solely viewed as a method of piloting shows for broadcast.
Miss Holland with a former Royal Butler
There are challenges that come with the transition from the Wild West of online video platforms to the tried and tested rules and regulations of a broadcaster. As an online content creator it is important to come to grips with these differences. The BBC is required to treat its contributors fairly, it was therefore key that Miss Holland kept her contributors on her side as they had to consent both before and after the interview. As such, it was imperative that they enjoyed the interview. This means the joke was on Miss Holland at all times and we do not embarrass anyone, but simply allude to the social construct that she is innocently challenging. We have a laugh about it afterwards with the contributors and remain on good terms with all of them including the Imam, the former Royal Butler and even the politician who very much enjoyed the interview but decided he didn’t want to be a part of the final show because of the comedic nature.
Comedy is at its best when challenging social norms but these encounters can cause unintended offence. We have worked closely with members of the Muslim community, British male and female writers, the commissioner and editorial policy to stay within the lines of acceptability whilst also trying to push the envelope as a woman in comedy.
At a time when opinion is so divided about Brexit, I can think of no better way to shine a light on the greatness of British culture than by having Miss Holland explore its eclectic mix of nuances.
Eline Van Der Velden, Creator BBC Three's Miss Holland