Contact: Mark BellRegion: All UK

Title: Head of Arts Commissioning
Genre: Specialist Factual, Factual, Arts
Region: All UK

About Channel

The BBC is the world's leading public service broadcaster with a channel portfolio that  provides entertainment, news, drama, factual, current affairs, comedy, children’s and arts coverage across BBC One, BBC, Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC and CBeebies. 

Programme Interests

Over the next two years are priorities for arts content across the BBC are:

Looking For

BBC 1:

Current focusses

Our key intention on BBC One is to celebrate the vast and dynamic range of our country’s culture, nurture the creative spark, develop talents and put the arts at the heart of the national consciousness.

We are interested in ways to merge arts with different genres and storytelling styles. The Big Painting Challenge developed the skills and techniques of keen amateur painters in a formatted show celebrating active participation with compelling human drama and a rich visual style.

We will continue to mark major pan BBC seasons as we did with Shakespeare 2016. Ideas will need to stand out from programming elsewhere on the BBC and have scale and broad appeal. 

Presenters don’t have to be art historians, for example Fake Or Fortune? works well on BBC One because it doesn’t feel like an arts programme and combines presenters with different expertise and backgrounds.

BBC 2:

Current focusses

-       One off high impact singles around events that stand out in the schedule with a newsworthy and revelatory spirit. Could form a centrepiece to a  season such as the Roald Dahl documentary forming part of a wider season celebrating reading across radio and TV.

-      Seeking a range of factual forms here: biographical profiles but with a new angle (for example the recent films about Francis Bacon and Sue Townsend), access films that offer a more personal take on arts and artists such as the recent Paula Rego film made by her son, films about artworks, events and cultural turning points


Arts on BBC Two is about strong narrative and unusual approaches. Story is more important than format and we would like humour and emotional journeys rather than didactic programming. We need authorship, insight and expertise in all we do on Two. Going forward we would like to see singles on BBC Two used as calling cards for series on BBC Four as we did with the recent Roald Dahl film playing as part of the Storytelling season.  


Name recognition is important on Two. We don’t need encyclopaedic takes on an artist , but seek a sense of clear authorship combined with a definitive quality - we need a clear point of view that deepens our audiences engagement with the subject.

Our biographies also need a sense of real intimacy – the Paula Rego film gave a unique and extremely rare, privileged and personal insight into the artists that the audience wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.


We want unique access that gives the audience a unique view into a world they would otherwise not be privy to, for example Christies. Think about journalistic scoops that lift the lid on a person or institution or new subjects that give a sense of revelation and a new understanding.


Civilisations will be launching in 2018, what next after that? We encourage you to think about landmark ideas with scale and impact but also new shapes and subject areas that would work for audience son Two. These could be presenter led and also offer participation and access.

Live events

We are interested in events from the real world such as Live From The National Theatre: 50 Years On Stage. It’s therefore worth keeping eyes peeled for the big events and exhibitions of the next two years. These don’t have to be UK focused but topicality works well to engage the audience.


Drama is of interest but can be hard to do without appearing trite. Rudolf Nureyev: Dance to Freedom did this well by mixing documentary and drama elements. Try and think of subversive new ways of doing this. 

BBC 4: 

Current focusses


Arts on BBC Four needs to be clever and intelligent but still feel fun and engaging. Tone is important – not too soft, clever but enticing. Arts programmes here can be bolder, more experimental, work with emerging voices and artists rather than just big names and try fresh and interesting shapes. We can be more forensic, provocative, intellectual and surprising. If you have an area you think is of interest – how might you do that in a BBC Four way? New approaches and angles are as crucial across a series as in a single film. 

Our subjects and presenters need to be surprising and we are on the lookout for more diverse talent – we are always looking for a new perspective. Expertise in the subject matter is key, but there should always be a unique angle or original opinion which stimulates debate and champions new thinking.

We are seeking ideas that might be of interest to all ages and would like suppliers to think about accompanying pieces online or on radio that might bring other audiences to our programmes and extend their shelf life beyond the traditional programme transmission. We are looking to commission these alongside our more traditional programming. A good example of this is our recent season on Japan where we accompanied a more traditional three-part series from Dr James Fox with a piece working with conceptual artist Ryan Gander to get an unexpected take and new angle. This was artist first, ideas driven and unexpected and exactly what we want.

We would still like to see singles on BBC Two occasionally used as calling cards for series on Four.  

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