Meet the Commissioners: BBC
Blogged by Sam Hutchinson.
“Fantastic, informative and the speakers came across as very approachable. Also, good questions were posed by the audience. They were the questions already on my mind.” – Duncan Raitt (Head of Animation – Plastic Milk).
“It fired me up to take the next steps. It came across as very accessible and showed me there is a good environment to get out there and get involved in. And where else can you get that?” – Aaron Wood (Slurpy Studios).
“To anyone looking to pitch something to us, know what we’ve got and what we haven’t got. We want ideas that compliment what we do and Producers need to help us stick to our remit. But we’re open and happy to create dialogues with people.” – Joe Godwin (Director – BBC Children’s).
Top 10 takeaways if you weren’t there!
10) The competitors are changing. We’re not just looking at television anymore, but online platforms and consoles.
9) Commissioners are looking for ideas that have multi-platform potential.
8) “The Dumping Ground” is not only one of the most popular CBBC shows on television, but has received a huge amount of iPlayer downloads and is also a popular online game.
7) CBBC in particular are putting kids in control more and more. For instance, allowing them to vote on the identity of the new Presenter of Blue Peter.
6) Both CBBC and CBeebies are looking for ideas with more female protagonists.
5) And for more ideas which look to bridge the gap between CBBC and CBeebies.
4) Know who you are pitching too! CBBC and CBeebies are frequently pitched shows similar to projects they already have as people do not take the time to even watch CBBC or CBeebies!
The speakers summarised what they are looking for with three ultimate points:
3) Accessibility: Content when and where you want it!
2) Talkability: Audiences sharing the content with their friends!
1) Tangibility: The desire of the audiences to get involved!
The warm, relaxed nature of the talk was summed up nicely after Anthony Utley had finished introducing Cheryl Taylor by reading out most of her very impressive C.V. Fellow speaker Joe Godwin simply said, “Couldn’t you have introduced me first?”
Indeed the laughs came pretty consistently but, above all, invaluable information was dispensed in a really informative session. Firstly, Joe gave an excellent insight into CBeebies, briefly discussing the need for ideas that transcend platforms before moving on to discuss their more specific requirements . Female protagonists were high on the agenda, as were humour, comedy, music, and content for 2-3 year olds. Joe also spoke of a need for greater diversity, on and off screen, and promoted the idea of inclusivity.
Cheryl then took matters over to CBBC, the top children’s channel for 6-12’s, and offered some great insights into the success of their most popular shows, such as “The Dumping Ground.” Amongst her presentation, some amazing stats were thrown out there. For instance, there have been 120,000,000 requests for CBBC content in 2013, and 50% of requests have been on handheld devices. Indeed, the changing nature of children’s media, and the ways in which we have to adapt accordingly, were ever-present throughout the session.
Similarly to Joe, Cheryl moved on to specifics with regard to what CBBC is looking for. Once again, female protagonists are in demand, as well as female double-acts. Physical or knock-about humour, which she aptly surmised as “Mr Bean for CBBC”, was mentioned. Together with the potential need for a studio sitcom, this echoed CBeebie’s similar desire for humour. Not that drama wasn’t on the agenda, with what looks like a need for a drama specifically suited to a Tablet. Top of this list, however, are engaging everyday precincts that have the accessible appeal of “The Dumping Ground”. Just as Joe was quoted as saying later, the desire is for ideas that compliment what they do.
It might sound obvious, but why not further reinforce that the last thing CBBC, CBeebies or, indeed, anyone needs right now is fantasy drama with dystopian futures or period dramas? Cheryl felt the need to reinforce it, so I do too!
The terrific sessions, and all of the information within it, was summarised succinctly with a breakdown of Accessibilty, Talkability and Tangibility. And you can read about those in the top 10 takeaways!
Producer: Anthony Utley (Media and Distribution Consultant).
Speakers: Joe Godwin (Director – BBC Children’s). Cheryl Taylor (Controller – CBBC).