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Kirkham: no topic ‘taboo’ for BBC Factual

Factual-headerBBC factual controller Alison Kirkham has pledged that “no subject should be taboo” for the UK public broadcaster’s output, as she unveiled a number of new commissions last night.

Speaking at an event in London, Kirkham outlined her vision for BBC factual commissioning, saying the pubcaster could not “shy away from ambitious, complicated programmes”.

Kirkham was handed her current post in September last year, after holding the role in an acting capacity since May 2015.

“We are living in a period of seismic change when it feels harder than ever to get to grips with what is happening around us,” she said this week.

“In an era of false facts and fake news, it is the role of a proudly independent BBC to respond by offering a trusted lens through which to view and understand the world. Ours is a unique mission – to inform, educate and entertain – and BBC Factual is uniquely placed to do just that.”

Pointing to recent Bafta success for BBC factual shows such as Hillsborough, Muslims Like Us and Planet Earth II, plus factual dramas Damilola Our Loved Boy and Murdered by My Father, Kirkham clamied the genre was in rude health.

“Just a few years ago, many within the industry were predicting the demise of Factual in a multi-channel, multi-choice world,” she said. “In fact the opposite has proven to be true.

“Today audiences are rewarding the best factual TV as emphatically as ever. Leading this department, my ambition is for us to share more untold and extraordinary stories.”

New commissions include Diana (WT), a 1x90mins doc for BBC One that Henry Singer’s Sandpaper Films that follows the week after the Princess of Wales’ death in 1997.

BBC Studios Natural History Unit is producing a 4x60mins science series, Earth From Space, for BBC One, while the network has also commissioned Electric Ray to produce 3x60mins body transformation series The Makeover Show.

Also on BBC One, Miriam Margolyes is working with Wild Pictures on 3x60mins travel series Miriam’s Great American Adventure.

BBC Two has commissioned Raw TV is produce Abortion: What Britain Really Thinks and Chris Packham: Me and My Asperger’s, while Lambent Productions will work up the 2x60mins Addicted Parents: Last Chance to Keep My Children.

Wingspan Productions’ Who Should We Let in? Ian Hislop on the First Great Immigration Row rounds off the indie commissions, while BBC Studios is working on A Vicar’s Life and Nigella: At My Table.

Youth-skewed online channel BBC Three has commissioned factual drama Murderer for Being Different from in-house unit BBC Studios Documentary Unit, and arts-focused BBC Four has ordered 90-minute special Fizz BanG Wallop – a Tudor Firework Spectacular from STV Productions.