BBC Three will return with a regional focus, says channel controller
BC Three will return with a focus on providing regional content and opportunities, the channel’s controller said.
The channel will be relaunched as a broadcast TV channel from February 1, after it ceased operations in 2016 and was replaced by an online-only version available on iPlayer.
Its launch party lineup will include the first-ever RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK Versus The World, which sees the UK play host as nine international Drag Race alumni compete to win the title of Drag Race Superstar .
Speaking ahead of the channel’s launch, BBC Three Controller Fiona Campbell said: “When it comes to the UK, you can’t be relevant to your audience unless you create content that’s very close to your audience.
“I think the mobility of people, in terms of geographic mobility, has obviously gone down in recent years, so the relevance of where they come from has gone up.”
She added that the channel has focused on creating content across the UK with independent regional teams to provide “regional creative opportunities and an experience pipeline for the future”.
“That’s where I try to take this channel, because then you’re relevant to people and important to them and you mean something to them,” she explained.
The channel has already started this venture by ordering shows such as The Fast And Farmer(ish), which sees young Northern Irish farmers piloting their tractors.
A BBC Three soap opera set in an area like Belfast Aberdeen or Newcastle to showcase modern Britain and provide a place for new young writers and actors to establish themselves was something Campbell said she would love have on the chain.
She described BBC Three’s style as “unfiltered, unapologetic and extraordinary”, saying they are “hyper-focused” on what they want to represent and give voice to, and that popular competition series such as RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star have helped establish that for viewers in recent years.
“Drag Race is definitely a central pillar of the channel’s identity, with shows like Rap Game and Glow Up,” she said.
“Our channel is dedicated to a concentrated experience of the difficulty of being super young in the UK today and this show embodies and embodies that difficult emotion and feeling.”
Campbell noted that despite the rise of streaming services, she believes live TV is still an important way to create “a moment” among viewers.
The channel’s launch comes amid heated discussions over the future of the BBC license fee, as the government recently announced it would be under review.
The BBC announced in March 2014 that it planned to move the channel online, but then announced in March 2021 that the linear channel was to return and received the green light from the broadcast watchdog in November.
Ofcom said the relaunch would help the BBC reach young viewers, particularly those in low-income homes and those living outside London and the South East.
It also stipulated that the BBC must ensure that at least “75% of the hours broadcast each year must be original programmes”, as commissioned by the company for a UK audience.
BBC Three will air from 7pm every night on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat, and will also be available on iPlayer.