Charlotte Moore speech 7 March 2016
I’m excited about the potential we have now – working together across all our channels and iPlayer to give people the most ambitious, exciting, and distinctive programming ever.Charlotte Moore, Controller, BBC TV Channels and iPlayer
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Thank you for coming this evening. I have to say - it’s a real privilege to be standing up here in front of you tonight in my new role. This has to be one of the best jobs in the world.
I’ve had the great pleasure of working with many of you in the past – in documentaries and on BBC One. And I’m constantly bowled over by your passion and creative ambition.
I work with the very best talent in the world.
I’m excited about the potential we have now – working together across all our channels and iPlayer to give people the most ambitious, exciting, and distinctive programming ever.
Programmes that inform, educate, entertain. And – I might add – inspire.
There are three things I want to talk about tonight:
- I want to share my vision and talk about how I see the channels working together, now and in the future.
- I want to define the purpose of each channel - and I’ve got clear views particularly around BBC Two I’d like to share.
- And I’m going to take the opportunity to announce some new titles which I hope show the direction of travel.
But, first of all, let me say one thing loud and clear. I don’t recognize - and more importantly neither does the public recognize - what the Secretary of State said about BBC One last week.
I don’t think it’s my job to get involved in political debates. It is my job to ensure that the BBC offers great, distinctive programmes that are both high-quality and popular.
And I feel compelled to comment on the suggestion that BBC One has become less distinctive in recent years.
Ofcom’s data, backed up by our own, shows that BBC One is the most distinctive popular channel on television. And it’s been my mission over the last three years to make it so. Thanks to many of you here tonight, we’ve pushed distinctiveness and risk-taking through everything we do.
I’m not sure how much more distinctive the last few weeks could have been – with new shows like The Night Manager, our mental health season, David Attenborough’s Giant Dinosaur, Dickensian, War & Peace - not to mention Call The Midwife and the return of Happy Valley. I promise there’s more to come.
Last week the Secretary of State quoted a report that a more distinctive BBC One would have a smaller audience. But I’ve found that the more ambitious and pioneering we are, the more the audience rewards us. And shouldn’t we want that? If programmes are distinctive, we don’t want fewer people watching them.
It’s an old but a very good quote: "We’re here to make the good popular and the popular good." So why would I steer the BBC down a path where I make the good unpopular? It would be the public who would lose out.
For me, popular television and distinctive television belong together.
And I’m taking that attitude forward to all our channels.
Risk-taking, innovation and originality has to apply to everything we make. Across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four – and iPlayer.
And to make that happen, I’m making a commitment to you all tonight that we’re going to be open, collaborative and agile. I’m going to make sure our channels complement each other.
Life’s going to be simpler – you’ll be clear where ideas are heading – you’ll know how to shape them for which channel.
And we’ll work with new and established talent to find the best place for programmes across the portfolio - because we want you to bring us your best work.
By putting audiences first, we’ll be able to create more impact.
Let me just give you one example. Peter Bowker’s new drama The A Word is coming to BBC One later this month. It’s funny, inventive and tough – a brilliant story about autism and contemporary family life.
And – alongside it – you’ll find Employable Me, a documentary series following adults with neurological conditions, such as Tourette’s or autism, on BBC Two; archive on BBC Four – a collection on iPlayer. All to coincide with National Autism week.
We’re giving similar treatment to – arguably – one of the most important debates in our recent history. It feels only right that you’d come to the BBC if you want to understand the issues at the heart of the European referendum. So - alongside the live debates and daily coverage from our news teams, we’ve got Jeremy Paxman back on BBC One – and authored films from Nick Robinson, Laura Kuenssberg and Mishal Husain on BBC Two.
That’s the power we can have when we take a joined up approach.
Now I want to talk about the channels. In my view, each channel has its own unique character and purpose.
For me, BBC One helps make Britain great. It unites us as a nation around big, shared moments and events.
It’s a place where everyone knows they’re going to find the very best programmes – programmes that are unashamedly popular, that feel timely and relevant and speak to a big broad audience.
It’s the channel that tackles big universal subjects, and stories that people care about, stories that become part of our everyday conversation.
Yes – people come to be entertained. But they’re informed and educated along the way.
So if BBC One unites us and celebrates all the things we have in common, then BBC Two is about everything that’s different about our world. It’s a channel that stretches the mind and takes you to places and subjects you haven’t been before.
I love BBC Two. I’ve made and commissioned programmes for the channel over the years, and thought long and hard about its values.
I believe it has a special, unique role to play in broadcasting and, when it’s true to its DNA, it’s unbeatable.
I want to make BBC Two confident again. Just to echo Tony’s words last autumn – I want to make sure it’s more distinctive from BBC One – and from everything else out there.
In the coming months, I want to give BBC Two a much greater sense of identity. I want to commission programmes that challenge the status quo, inspire original thinking – and give a voice to new perspectives and opinions.
It’s going to be lean in – not lean back – television.
BBC Two should be a place for talent to do their most distinctive signature work. And – to do that – I understand you need freedom. You need to be able to experiment with form and subject matter – and you need to know you’re backed.
I’m going to take all the great work the channel does and use the lessons from where it’s been working best to inform my decisions.
Let me take an example. The resurgence of drama on BBC Two these last few years has been a revelation. That success is all about authorship. It’s recognizing the genius of a singular take on what can be very complex subjects. It’s about great talent like Peter Kosminsky, Steve Knight and Hugo Blick - Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris’s The Hollow Crown – Jed Mercurio’s Line Of Duty coming up.
Comedy too has a great tradition on the channel – with shows like W1A, Inside No 9, The Wrong Mans - and Ben Elton’s Upstart Crow coming very soon. I want to back new and established talent to push the boundaries of comedy that’s gone before. Today we’re announcing an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline And Fall.
My ambition is to expand authorship and diversity of voice across every genre.
In documentaries, I want to bring back the director’s voice
Just for starters – today I’m announcing three new films - from Sue Bourne, Fergus O’Brien, and Nick Broomfield.
And James Blumel’s series about the migrant crisis will push that sense of authorship even further. It’s ground-breaking access to extraordinary, personal tales of our time.
While drama, comedy and entertainment all play a crucial role, I want to put factual proudly at the heart of BBC Two. I want to embrace all the specialisms from science, history and religion to current affairs, natural history, documentaries, music and the arts.
Because by contrast to BBC One, audiences come to BBC Two to be informed – but we can entertain them too.
Take Top Gear - it’s a show that revels in detail. It’s not just about entertainment. It’s a show for enthusiasts, for people who care passionately about cars. I’ve seen some early clips of the new series. It’s really exciting what the team are doing. And I - for one - can’t wait to see how it comes together in the coming weeks.
BBC Two is the home of informed and independent voices, experts and respected academics. Our programmes should be full of depth and substance.
To give you a flavour - I’m announcing two new history and science series. 1066 will bring one of the most famous years in our history to life in a way that’s never been seen before. Secrets Of The Human Body will reveal extraordinary new advances in science that will change the way we think about ourselves.
Diversity of voice in all this is key. We know audiences value that. And I want to push this even further throughout the schedule.
In drama, we are adapting Zadie Smith's novel NW.
In a major season which includes David Olusoga’s history of black Britain this autumn, Sugar Films have won their first commission, and new talent, photographer Simon Frederick, is coming to the channel. And Back In Time For Brixton will take a second generation family through 60 years of cultural and social shifts.
I want BBC Two to be the flagship channel for contemporary arts and music. Just like I remember it once was.
I want collaborations on the channel to thrive.
Hot on the heels of The Dresser, Sir Anthony Hopkins will return in King Lear. We’ve commissioned a major adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s outstanding King Charles III directed by Rupert Goold. It’s about bringing the things that theatre-goers have loved and making them accessible to everyone on television.
Partnerships like these will be a crucial part of an ambitious run of Saturday nights dedicated to arts, music and performance we’re launching in September.
- There will be evenings devoted to Marlon Brando and Alan Bennett
- Landmark profiles of Sue Townsend and Van Gogh
- We’re going behind-the-scenes of cultural powerhouses like the Royal Ballet and Tate
- And there will be topical programming about the biggest arts events like Man Booker Prize and Frieze Art Week. Special access to once-in-a-lifetime, blockbuster exhibitions.
BBC Two will bring audiences closer to great art and performance, to those who make it, how they make it and the art itself.
That - of course - brings me to BBC Four.
BBC Four has a unique role in the portfolio. It’s a channel dedicated to culture and ideas – and plays a vital role in the BBC’s music and arts story too.
BBC Four is a channel for adventurous minds, feeding people’s curiosity about the world with content that’s timeless. It’s the home of international drama and foreign documentary.
It’s a place where we bring the BBC’s unparalleled archives to new audiences. It’s the channel where audiences come to be educated - to explore our cultural heritage - to delve deeper into subjects.
And through education, BBC Four informs and entertains too.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the things coming up.
- A new season exploring domestic architecture, with depth, insight and a hint of eccentricity from Dan Cruickshank, Jonathan Meades and Nick Broomfield
- In Genius Of The Modern World, Bettany Hughes is going to discover how Marx, Nietzsche and Freud changed the world
- Deaf United immerses the viewer in the world of the deaf
As ever on BBC Four, we’ll continue to be experimental and play with ideas.
And we’ve got some exciting new collaborations with BBC Music and Radio coming up, with Twiggy giving us her take on Pop; Akala - a gifted poet and rapper - telling the story of Roots Reggae; and Danielle de Niese giving us a unique backstage pass to preparations for Glyndebourne’s The Barber Of Seville.
There’ll be more details soon, but these commissions will be part of seasons across the channels – creating moments of scale, quality, and high energy – for everyone to enjoy.
It’s yet another example of what we can do when we think bigger – and more ambitiously – across the portfolio.
For me – and the channels teams – the last few weeks have been liberating. I feel the conversations have changed, and, by being crystal clear about each channel’s purpose, we bring clarity to everything we do.
Giving the channel editors and commissioning teams the power to lead and work together will be key. This isn’t about putting all the commissioning decisions all in one place. A simpler, coordinated approach to commissioning will deliver more creative opportunities, a greater diversity of distinctive, ground-breaking programmes and - crucially - quicker decision-making for all.
I want the BBC to match your creativity and ambition.
We’ll be much better placed to curate a journey for ideas and talent across the portfolio
Gareth Malone is bringing his first choir for the Invictus Games 2016 to BBC One, before he returns to BBC Two later in the year with his next series of the Naked Choir. Brian Cox’s Forces Of Nature and Lucy Worsley’s new series about Henry VIII’s wives will bring them both to BBC One for the first time. David Attenborough’s passion piece on bioluminescence feels quintessentially BBC Two.
All examples of how great talent can move across channels, to find the best home for ideas, bringing new audience to their work.
And that brings me to BBC iPlayer, which will have an increasingly important part to play in the BBC’s future.
Of course it’s an extraordinary catch-up service for people to watch our programming where and when they want to.
But - much more than that, it also helps diverse audiences – young people - find content they might otherwise miss.
I want to grow iPlayer in the future. I’ll be exploring more iPlayer premieres and how we can reach new audiences
Six months ago – when I launched BBC One’s new season, I made three promises that would define BBC One over the coming years:
- a commitment to risk-taking
- guaranteed investment in innovation
- and a promise that I would challenge every new commission to break the mould
Just to show you how serious I am – let me leave you with some new commissions on BBC One that deliver on my promises:
- Wanderlust, from award-winning playwright Nick Payne takes an unflinchingly realistic look at relationships, and challenges us all to think about marriage and lifelong monogamy.
- Levi David Addai has written his first piece for BBC One - with a very different perspective on Damilola Taylor’s brutal murder.
- A new documentary series Last Seen On CCTV follows the real-life drama of the first 72 hours after a missing person has been reported.
So – here’s my promise to you all.
We are going to continue to challenge what popular mainstream television is on BBC One.
We're going to support authorship, a diversity of voice and opinion, innovation in form and an unprecedented commitment to factual on BBC Two.
And we're going to keep pushing the boldness and range of what BBC Four and iPlayer can offer.
Most importantly, we are going to provide the best home for talent - writers, actors, producers and directors.
The licence fee gives us the creative freedom to work with you in ways that no-one else can.
I want to make the most of that
From now on, we’re going to be the most distinctive we have ever been.
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