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BBC drama boss warns of “peak caution” as pubcaster unveils 12 scripted commissions

Lindsay Salt, director of drama at the BBC, has warned that the industry has shifted from “peak TV to peak caution” in recent years and promised that the UK pubcaster will continue to take creative risks.

Salt made her comments at an event in London yesterday evening, while unveiling 12 new scripted commissions for the broadcaster. The former Netflix exec, who took up the BBC role in 2022, urged producers, writers and directors to take risks, push boundaries and “venture into the creative unknown”.

She said that the BBC is “the only place that can promise true boldness and braveness in all our decision making,” and that the current climate makes the industry’s approach to risk “even more essential.”

“Inflation, content and platform saturation, streamer retrenchment, the writers’ strike, it’s all fed a serious slowdown. Five years ago, everyone was willing to make brave choices… But today there’s much more short termism,” said Salt. “I worry that risk-taking is becoming a dirty word. And that, in less than a decade, the industry might be moving from peak TV to peak caution.”

Salt promised that “while others might become more cautious,” the BBC will “go further and take the risks others won’t.”

“State of the nation” drama

Salt shared her vision for the BBC to redefine “state of the nation drama” and highlighted previous successes such as I May Destroy You and This Is Going To Hurt, while revealing that she wants to find new iconic characters in the vein of Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby, Happy Valley’s Catherine Cawood and the titular protagonists of Luther andDoctor Foster.

With that in mind, Salt unveiled 12 new drama commissions for the broadcaster, including a confident extension for Belfast-based police drama Blue Lights, with an order for two more six-part seasons of the show from Two Cities Television for BBC One and iPlayer.

New titles include Dear England, a drama series about Gareth Southgate and the England men’s football team, based on James Graham’s National Theatre play of the same name. The four-part drama will be produced by Left Bank Pictures for BBC One and iPlayer, with Joseph Fiennes tapped to play Southgate.

Film Club, meanwhile, is a romantic comedy-drama written by actors Aimee Lou Wood and Ralph Davis. The six-part series will be made by Gaumont for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.

Lions (working title) is a six-part drama about two men across the decades, written and created by Richard Gadd and made by Mam Tor Productions for BBC One, BBC Scotland and iPlayer.

Mint is a darkly comic and “unconventional” drama about what it means to be part of a crime family, from writer and filmmaker Charlotte Regan. The eight-part series hails from Fearless Minds and House Productions.

The BBC has also commissioned Reunion, a thriller of revenge and redemption, which follows the journey of Brennan, a deaf man determined to right his wrongs, while unravelling the truth behind the events that led him to prison. Produced by Warp Films, the four-part series for BBC One and BBC iPlayer, is written by William Mager, a deaf writer, who will also executive produce.

The Dream Lands is a coming-of-age story with a twist, based on Rosa Rankin-Gee’s novel Dreamland, and brought to TV by Kayleigh Llewellyn. The six-part series is produced by Sister for BBC One and iPlayer.

The Listeners, starring Rebecca Hall, is based on the novel by Jordan Tannahill, who has also written the adaptation. Produced by Element Pictures for BBC One and iPlayer, the series centres around a popular teacher, who begins to hear a low humming sound that no one else around her can hear.

The Ministry Of Time is based on Kaliane Bradley’s anticipated debut novel of the same name about a newly established government department gathering ‘expats’ from across history in an experiment to test the viability of time-travel. The six-part series has been been adapted by Alice Birch and will be produced by A24 for BBC One and iPlayer.

The Split Up is a six-part spin-off from Abi Morgan’s BBC drama The Split, set in the high-stakes world of Manchester’s divorce law circuit, where one family of lawyers, the Kishans, reigns supreme. Produced by Northern Sister in association with Little Chick for BBC One and BBC iPlayer,

This City Is Ours is a crime drama created by writer Stephen Butchard and made by Left Bank Pictures for BBC One and iPlayer.

Lastly, We Go Again (working title) is written by Janice Okoh, based on her play Three Birds and made for BBC Three and BBC iPlayer by The Forge Entertainment.

Source: www.tbivision.com

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