Zai Bennett Unveils His First BBC3 Slate
Also of interest this week was the first raft of commissions from Zai Bennett, who left ITV2 earlier this year to become controller of BBC Three. Introducing them, he said: "BBC Three is an innovative, young and distinctly British channel. I hope this raft of new original shows will add to its rich history of brand new programming in all genres."
Among new titles on the slate is factual entertainment series Up For Hire (Love Productions), a live event stripped across the week that will follow four unemployed young people (18-24) as they get their careers put on fast track. In just four weeks, they will progress from "tea boy" to making executive decisions. "Jobs and work are a vital issue for our audience," says Bennett. "Up For Hire will condense the experiences of a 40-year career into one TV week in an engaging programme, which we hope will not only have a real effect on the participants, but our entire audience."
Comedy has always played a key role for BBC3 and Bennett has unveiled a mix of new and returning shows. New titles include Life Story - a series written by and starring Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh about a woman who is falsely imprisoned for the murder of her boss, only to discover that her nearest and dearest are actually quite comfortable with her being inside. Also new is Wilfred a half-hour, live-action comedy about Ryan, a young man struggling unsuccessfully to make his way in the world until he forms a unique friendship with Wilfred, his neighbour's canine pet.
Bennett has also greenlit comedy pilots called Eggbox (Hat Trick) and IED. The latter is a single-camera comedy about a British bomb disposal detachment. It is written by James Cary and Richard Hurst who, between them, co-wrote 12 episodes of BBC Two's award-winning hit show, Miranda.
In order to make way for the new comedy titles, Bennett has dropped a number of existing comedies. However one he has held on to is White Van Man, which gets a new run of 6 x 30 mins. There's also some current affairs: top titles include: Mixed Up In The Middle East and Britain You're Welcome to It. In the latter, BBC3 looks at the experience of 1.5m Eastern Europeans who have moved to the UK since 2004.