Meet the Commissioners – BBC

Posted on: Thursday 01 July 2010 11:03am

Children’s BBC has a new Director, a new Controller of CBBC and a new Controller of CBeebies so this session promises an insight into their future plans in advance of next year’s move to MediaCity, Salford.

Moderator: Anthony Utley, MD, LiveFrame Studios


Kay Benbow, Controller CBeebies, BBC

Joe Godwin, Director, BBC Children’s

Damian Kavanagh, Controller CBBC, BBC

We all know and love BBC Children’s department so without further ado, we’ll get straight to what the lovely new team at the top want for CBBC and Cbeebies.

The mission: unforgettable content that inspires ALL kids across the UK.It has to be relevant to the audience and it has to be memorable. So, make your drama challenging and bold and get serious about your factual. Go deep. Kids live in a busy cluttered world and they want bold ideas that really cut through.

Be Brave, Bold, Unforgettable.Those words were used a lot.We reckon they mean them…Oh and infectiousness – New Word.The playground equivalent of the water cooler moment is what they’re after – kids wanting to talk about your show.

2011 sees the big move to Salford and a new start.That doesn’t mean Joe Godwin will be forgetting old partners but looking forward to new ones.And the move also brings aspirations of getting closer to the audience; cue visions of children pressing their noses up against the windows. There is also a move to be more joined up across the departments – BBC Learning is also moving to Salford.

CBBC – Damian Kavanagh wants strong characters, catchphrases, music, oh, and a plot of course.The overall tone he’s looking for is upbeat, cheeky, energetic.Talking about Horrible Histories, he said he wants stuff that makes you “laugh yourself smart” – great phrase. Content works best when it recognises the audience as intelligent, savvy etc.

He also wants longevity – he’s not looking for shows that will only last one series.There must be opportunity for scale, spin offs, talent (named performers) and experts..There is no subject that is taboo – it just needs to be relevant and handled appropriately.And diversity – get out and about: show more of the nations and regions, and disability, gender and ethnicity – normalise them, show the experience of all kids, and open up the world.

CBeebies – the plan is to keep it popular and accessible by securing the best content:online, TV and radio are the three platforms.The brand is loved and trusted by parents, the youngest of the BBC audience deserves the very best.

Kay Benbow is keen to broker new partnerships and wants to see ideas early!The commissioning process is rolling now for both CBBC and CBeebies (not drama though according to the grapevine) so don’t spend months, years or millions before you speak to them.Get in early to avoid disappointment later.It’s a “conversational commissioning process”.

The details of commissioning requirements and people to contact will be on the website and hopefully updated every 16 weeks or so.Keep watching the skies (or the website) for details.

So the BBC wants passionate, unforgettable content.

Show worlds not often seen.

As a bench mark does your idea:

Inspire a child’s imagination?

Empower a child to be an engaged citizen?

Provide a child with a role model?

Inspire a child to be active and to ‘get out there’?

Give a child simple laugh out loud moments?

Give a child memorable moments?

The audience wanted to know if the proposed new 7-9 o’clock time slot would up the age beyond 12?No said Joe.But he added that older teens are already watching the channel and the idea is that some of his extra money will be used to better serve the older end of the audience, which will by association attract those older kids too.

So flag your idea to them early and, according to Joe, (and this is highly useful given that I couldn’t write everyone in the commissioning teams’ names down fast enough) talk to anybody!

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