Beyond iPlayer: BBC commissions original content from new talent and familiar faces
James R | On 24, Mar 2015
The BBC has announced a new range of original BBC iPlayer content that sees a host of new talent join familiar faces in the Beeb’s streaming line-up.
Matt Berry will begin his iPlayer own comedy series on 5th April. The topical show, called Matt Berry Does, with begin with an anthropologic look at the Oxford/Cambridge boat race. This is the first of six shorts which Berry will make for iPlayer, which follows his previous hits Lone Wolf and Wild Love.
Other familiar faces have also been commissioned, including Jo Brand, who will host the next in iPlayer’s Private View exhibitions – Grayson Perry at Turner Contemporary, out in May – and Frankie Boyle. Boyle recently hosted a Scottish Referendum Autopsy comedy show for iPlayer, which attracted over 715,000 views. In response, the comedian will return to take centre stage in an Election Autopsy in May.
Following the success of the recent Funny Valentines comedy shorts – featuring comedians including Bill Bailey, Romesh Ranganathan, Sara Pascoe, Limmy and Nick Helm – the series will return once again for February 2016. This year’s collection have received 1.3m requests so far.
Emerging British filmmakers, writers and performers will also be given a platform. Indeed, iPlayer has increasingly become a showcase for new work, with its BBC Three Comedy Feeds streaming potential pilots for young talent. Original Drama Shorts have also featured new talent and writers in the past, with Flea, Tag and My Jihad. released last year. The latter returns as a series this summer, a tender and funny love story, set in contemporary Britain, that explores the unfolding relationship between a young Muslim couple across three episodes.
“BBC iPlayer is fast becoming one of the most exciting places for British writers, artists and film makers to create ambitious new work, from original comedy and drama, to feature length documentaries and topical arts and entertainment,” says Victoria Jaye, Head of TV Content for BBC iPlayer.
Women Who Spit, a series of short films, will launch on BBC iPlayer to coincide with the BBC’s Young Artist Day this summer. It will see five UK young female poets tackling a range of tough topics that pre-occupy young people in a unique collaboration with London’s Roundhouse.
In June, BBC iPlayer will celebrate Muslim culture in Fast Cuts (working title), a series of comedy shorts starring established and emerging Muslim comedians. The collaboration with BBC Asian Network and BBC Writers Room will include talent such as Tez Ilyas and Guzzy Bear, aka Mobeen.
Later this year, Beyond Clueless director Charlie Shackleton will also produce a feature horror documentary exclusively for iPlayer. Beyond Clueless, a teen movie documentary essay, was released exclusively on iTunes last month (our review here), following a successful crowd-funding campaign and a cinema release.
The commission was partly inspired by the release of Adam Curtis’ documentary Bitter Lake. The journalist’s experimental epic, which we reviewed here, spans over two hours but has found a natural home on the streaming service: it has been downloaded or streamed almost 1 million times since its release.
“Watching Bitter Lake on iPlayer last month, I was overcome with excitement about the platform’s potential as a home for weird art, and so I’m thrilled to announce that my next film, Fear Itself, will premiere on @BBCiPlayer in October,” he tweeted yesterday.
The film will be built from material spanning more than 100 years of horror cinema, in an attempt to create a horror film even scarier than the horror films Lyne draws on.
“With requests for iPlayer exclusive content more than tripling in the last year, audiences are recognising BBC iPlayer as more than just a catch-up service,” adds Jaye.
In fact, the BBC is now working on a new weekly entertainment show to highlight its range of content on the streaming site. Its provisionally titled This Week on iPlayer, although that name may change. Beyond BBC iPlayer? That suddenly doesn’t sound so silly.