BBC weighs original family films in BBC3 hours

The BBC is considering making original family films to fill extra hours that could be given to CBBC when BBC Three moves online.

Cheryl TaylorThe BBC Trust, which governs the activities of the UK pubcaster, last week provisionally approved BBC Three’s move from linear to online. It also approved a plan to extend CBBC’s by two hours, to 9pm, to ensure linear programming remains available for young viewers.

In response to a question from TBI at last week’s Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield, CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor (pictured) said one option for filling those extra hours would be original family-skewed movies.

“We have talked about the possibility of developing family films, and that’s another way to go that might attract family audiences in those extra two hours,” Taylor said. She added that BBC Children’s is actively seeking ideas from producers in this area and for other ideas to fill the new hours.

Taylor emphasised that various options are on the table. One is to start the two-hour slot with younger-skewing fare so that the audience from the BBC’s preschool channel, CBeebies, moves more seamlessly to CBBC. Another possibility, with Channel 4 pulling out of programming for older kids, is to use the two hours to target 12-15s.

“We could scoop up CBeebies’ audience and go quite young as we are aware not all kids go to be at 7pm,” Taylor said. “We also feel there might be more opportunities for provision for the 12-to-15s, and that something we’d like to think about, with some of content like Wolfblood, The Next Step and Nowhere Boys that skew older.”

There will not, however, be extra cash for older skewing content or for new shows filling the BBC Three slot. Any new content will be funded out of the existing Children’s budget.

“We won’t be getting any extra money to make content for these extra two hours,” Taylor said. “I would dearly love to have a few extra million to do high-end drama and comedy shows, but that’s not going to happen.”