Strong journalism, docs and TV events will help BBC2 stand out, says Kim Shillinglaw


“Terrifyingly watchable”, “Jaw-dropping” and “The League of Gentlemen brought to life” were just some of the reactions to BBC2 documentary Meet The Ukippers last year. We all appreciate stand-out reviews, but this was about something different: striving for a more contemporary, relevant and lively channel.

In 2016, we’ll be bringing more of that – programmes that try to get under the skin of the modern world – with seasons taking us inside the black economy, to the front line of the global refugee crisis, and asking tough questions about low pay. Look out for more immersive journalism, edgier documentaries and TV events that have purpose.

As well as our Black Economy season, which includes Renegade’s The Town That Went Offshore, Lion TV will bring the Chinese New Year into viewers’ homes and Steve Hewlett will look at the inner workings of the celebrity industry.

Keo Films has a team deployed across Africa and the Middle East, working with self-shooters and refugees on a scale we don’t believe has been attempted for TV before, with more than 70 cameras in the field.

An in-house series explores the impact of migration on communities in the UK, and BBC2 will broadcast from one of the world’s biggest refugee camps, capturing hardship, logistics and wedding shops to find out how a temporary shelter turns into a city.

Alongside scale and event, we also like intimate and funny, and there will be more of that in our new 10pm factual slot, including The Week We Wed, a stripped series from Twofour.

We love new ideas that can be scheduled in disruptive ways, like our tongue-in-cheek contest Let’s Play Darts For Comic Relief and box-set factual series The Detectives.

It’s all part of keeping BBC2 lively – the channel recently won awards for best use of humour in trails and best use of social media. Alongside familiar scheduling like our Monday night quiz hour, our viewers want a surprising, eclectic mix that feeds their curiosity.

  • Kim Shillinglaw is controller of BBC2 and BBC4

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