BBC Worldwide’s channels division has hired Tracy Forsyth as its first commissioning editor and David Weiland tells Informa Telecoms & Media that it is significantly ramping up the amount of original content across its portfolio of channels. Forsyth joins from UKTV and will be vice-president, commissioning, initially focusing original programming efforts on the markets where Worldwide has a well-developed, maturing business such as Australia and New Zealand.
David Weiland, BBC Worldwide Channels’ senior vice-president, programming & TV channels says: “The channels have been very much built on acquisition and now it has become clear what content resonates with our audiences. It is now very clear what we need outside of that pipeline of acquired programming and the gaps that need filling.
“ The focus of the content drive will be lifestyle and factual entertainment programming. If successful, the initiative will see the amount of original production at Worldwide Channel’s increase from about 20 hours in 2011, with shows including Australian drama Dripping in Chocolate, to ten new series and 100-plus hours within four to five years.
Worldwide recently launched a ten-episode local version of ITV Studio’s format Come Dine with Me in South Africa, made by local producer Rapid Blue and Weiland says, new, original content will be delivered at both a country-specific and on a region-wide level, as with Year of Adventures with Ben Fogle. The BBC Worldwide Productions 5x1hr series, produced by BBC Bristol and based on a Lonely Planet book, follows the presenter as he tackles adrenalin-fuelled challenges. It delivers to BBC Knowledge channels in early-2012.