BBC Children’s focuses on diversity with new shows

From the history and cultural significance of colors to celebrating Black icons, new commissions from the pubcaster center on diversity alongside the impact of the pandemic on kids' lives.
October 22, 2020

BBC Children’s has announced another round of quick-turnaround commissions. The shows, many of which focus on diversity, were chosen because they reflect the themes shaping kids’ lives during the pandemic and ongoing conversations about race, according to BBC.

The series were picked up from BBC Children’s in-house productions as well as independent companies, and will launch across CBeebies, CBBC, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

CBeebies picked up the 14 x seven-minute in-house commission Colours, which focuses on the cultural and historical significance of different colors; Flashing Lights’ 10 x seven-minute musical series Magic Hands – Black History; and The Toddler Club At Home, a 20 x 10-minute show from Three Arrows that builds on the Baby Club At Home brand.

CBBC, meanwhile, picked up a handful of in-house commissions. Big Fat Like (10 x 15 minutes) is a sketch show that parodies the internet; the 20 x 10-minute Celebrity Supply Teacher 2 is a factual format exploring inspiring lessons from various stars; Ricky Wilson’s Art Jam (10 x 15 minutes) explains how art can inspire you; The Dumping Ground Survival Guide is a five x 30-minute vlog; and the nine x 10-minute show Would You Rather? is a game show featuring celebrity guests.

Series from independent companies set to hit CBBC include Maverick’s 10 x 10-minute Do Try This at Home with Chris and Xand 2; DLT Entertainment’s 15 x 10-minute Monster Court (pictured); CTVC’s 10 x seven-minute food-focused series What’s Cooking Omari?; The Playmaker Group’s 31 x two-minute Our Black History Heroes; BBC Studios’ six x 24-minute Planet Defenders; Channel X North’s one x 10-minute special So Awkward Presents: Prom Time; and Peggy Pictures’ 10 x 10-minute gameshow Mimi & Co.

In-house commissions for CBeebies Radio include the eight x eight-minute show Love Monster, which follows the hosts of a radio show; and the eight x seven-minute series Molly and Mack, which stars the titular Molly and her friends as they go on adventures. Little Radio Limited’s podcast series Magic Den (12 x 10 minutes) was also picked up, along with The Baby Club Podcasts (10 x 12 minutes) from Three Arrows.

Of this bevy of commissions, some are focusing on diversity in front of the camera such as Our Black History Heroes, which profiles celebrity figures from the Black community such as Serena Williams and Martin Luther King Jr. But behind the scenes, Sparks—which was previously announced as an acquisition for BBC iPlayer—will be adding new diverse writers, directors and indie prodcos to join the series.

These new shows follow BBC’s most recent round of commissions in April. The pubcaster picked up 25 new shows for CBeebies, CBBC and iPlayer. Similarly, many of those shows were turned around much faster than usual in an effort to reflect the world kids are living in today.

Diversity on and off screen continues to be an area of focus for broadcasters. ViacomCBS Networks International, for one, is rolling out a company-wide “No Diversity, No Commission” production policy that requires all new international productions be made by a diverse team.

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