Report – Commissioner Conversations BBC

Posted on: Wednesday 03 July 2019 8:42pm by Sarah Darling

Changemaker Alvin Owusu is a highly inspirational 18-year-old who uses his disadvantaged background as a driver to help young people through The Advantage Group. His aim is to demonstrate to businesses that diversity is not charity, but in fact, good business sense, using Stormzy as an example of how this can work. Through his outreach he aims to help change 2000 young lives for the better.


  • Mantra for BBC Children’s:  ‘Making the good popular and the popular good’.
  • Will commission good quality content that aims to instruct but also entertain.
  • Using influencers in a way that doesn’t shoehorn them into an awkward format.
  • BBC Education is restructuring- bringing Bitesize and Education together.


The session opened with Helen Foulkes explaining how the different branches of the BBC are coming together to work in tandem, not just on education but also across the iPlayer service. She explained that as 90% of all 16-year-olds use Bitesize, it is a really good tool for that age group to use as a key learning support. Cheryl Taylor discussed what the BBC typically look for when commissioning. It is clear that quality is key, but she noted the need for people to be ambitious in their aims. While this restructuring is occurring, Taylor explained that there are several ways for the BBC to commission. This information can also be found online.

Questions and concerns were raised regarding shows that are centred around mental health in particular. Currently, there are mindfulness shows narrated by Olivia Coleman. Commissions using U.K. based-companies were discussed as well as an ongoing commitment to this. The session highlighted that this included an 80% split outside London,  20% of which is in Scotland.

One pressing question was how to best use prolific influencers in a way that is complimentary to their skills, examples included personalities like Ali A and Maddie Moate.

The final point made was that ‘in house’ no longer gets priority, but the split between this and indies currently sits around the 50/50 mark. The takeaway message?  If you have a good idea, then be ambitious and send it. But try to be patient during this transition period.


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Sarah Darling

About the author

Sarah Darling

Mr Weebl/Jelly Penguin, Creative Director

Sarah was a radio presenter with XFM up until 2007, when she left to start an animation company. Her first job was writing interstitials for Sesame Street, and from there she's worked on projects both big and small, as well as running a number of successful YouTube Channels. Sarah's passion… Read more