BBC Three to cut Don't Tell the Bride and other reality TV shows when channel moves online

The BBC has announced plans to make more long form shows and documentaries for the youth-focussed channel when it goes digital

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BBC Three is to axe reality TV shows such as Don’t Tell the Bride and Snog, Marry, Avoid in favour of “harder-hitting” programmes when the channel moves online.

In language that echoed its own satire W1A, the BBC announced that its online-only youth channel will get down with the kids by offering the concepts “Make Me Think” and “Make Me Laugh” in place of drama and comedy.

These are the new “two pillars” of BBC3, which is to be taken off television and moved not just to BBC iPlayer but to the social media sites Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It will also target youthful web sites such as Buzzfeed, by producing 20 per cent of its content in short videos and interactive content, BBC strategists said.

The switch is seen as critical in the BBC’s attempts to remain relevant to young audiences but its ethereal descriptions of content in place of the usual TV genres provoked ridicule on the comedy circuit, where the decision to take BBC3 off air has gone down like a heavy metal inflatable.

Richard Herring took to Twitter to comment on what he saw as a false distinction. “It’s good that BBC3 is clamping down on comedy that makes you think or drama that makes you laugh. That’s why there are 2 different masks.”


Charlie Brooker, presenter of the Screenwipe series on BBC4, described the categories as “baffling” and asked: “Drama never funny, comedies never thoughtful?”

Explaining its decision to move BBC3 online, the BBC reminded viewers that the service had launched in 2003. “That’s before the iPhone, Facebook, SBTV, Netflix, Snapchat, driverless cars and a man jumping from space,” it said. “The world’s changed and what Millennials and Generation Z want and expect from the BBC has changed.”

But, perhaps conscious that the organisation was indulging itself in too much marketing speak, Damian Kavanagh, the “project lead” on the plan to take BBC off the television, admitted: “Let’s be frank, it’s also down to money.”

'Baffling': Screenwipe presenter Charlie Brooker (Getty)

The move will save the BBC’s budget £50m and will free up space for more children’s programmes. Instead of filling a schedule, “new BBC Three would allow us to do fewer shows but bigger, better and in greater depth,” said Kavanagh in a blog.

The online BBC3 will enable programmes to be more interactive and reactive. Kavanagh said the prank show The Revolution Will Be Televised would be able to respond to breaking news stories with fresh content.

The BBC will seed the short form BBC3 content on social media sites and is hoping that young viewers will share it with their friends. “A daily update from new BBC Three would offer a fresh immediate package of content that would make people think and laugh and would be shareable with peers,” said Kavanagh.

BBC Director General Tony Hall acknowledged that it had been a difficult decision to take BBC3 online only but said he was excited by the proposals. “By searching out new ways to engage and entertain young audiences on their terms, the new BBC Three will be a great example of how we can reinvent the public service for the digital world,” he said. “[By] using their talent, appearing on the platforms and devices that they use and talking to them as equals and partners.”

Reality or satire: Can you tell the difference?

Director General states that “in a divergent, 360-degree, flexi-content, on-demand marketplace, this is just the kind of connected proposition that the BBC is prioritising”. BBC

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Just 18 months after opening its new £1bn headquarters, the BBC spends tens of thousands of pounds on an EastEnders-themed revamp, with an Albert Square hot-desking area and a Queen Vic-themed meeting room. BBC

The BBC theme park?

Doctor Who and other prominent BBC brands will feature in a new theme park being built in Kent by the Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures.

A theme park that will bring BBC characters to life is due to open in 2020

The theme park is promising to “bring to life” characters from film and television and is scheduled to open in 2020. Paramount is the oldest of the Hollywood studios with a portfolio that includes Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, The Godfather and The Italian Job, all of which are expected to be included in the park.

David Testa, director of London Resort Company Holdings, which is behind the project, said the deal with the BBC would enable the park to “combine the glamour of Hollywood with the best of British culture.”

Stephen Davies, Director Live Events, BBC Worldwide  said: “We’re always looking for opportunities to extend fans’ enjoyment of their favourite shows and the idea behind this resort is a really exciting way of celebrating the very special place the BBC has in British culture.”