BBC unveils “ambitious” specialist factual formats slate

New formats heading to BBC2 include the tentatively titled World's Busiest Cities: New York, Big Life Fix and Through a Child's Eyes, while BBC1 will bring back 'The Truth About...' strand (pictured) with a film focused on HIV.
May 26, 2016

BBC1 and BBC2 have unveiled several upcoming specialist factual formats.

New commissions for BBC2 include World’s Busiest Cities: New York (working title), Big Life Fix (w/t) and Through a Child’s Eyes.

World’s Busiest Cities: New York follows on the success of BBC’s World’s Busiest Railway in 2015. The new three-part series is presented by Ade Adepitan, Anita Rani, Ant Anstead and Dan Snow, and ventures into three famous public spaces in New York – Grand Central Terminal, the New Fulton Fish Market and Central Park.

The series is exec produced by Lisa Ausden and series produced by Amanda Lyon for BBC Studios. Tom McDonald, head of commissioning for natural history and specialist factual formats, is commissioning editor.

Meanwhile, Big Life Fix is a three-part transformational science series that follows a group of designers, engineers, programmers and tech experts as they aim to transform people’s lives in the UK.

From a man with locked-in syndrome who is keen to communicate, to an 11-year-old boy born without hands and feet who wants to ride a bike, Big Life Fix will look to help these individuals through the use of new inventions that use cutting-edge technology.

The series is produced by Studio Lambert. aa Tom Watt-Smith is series director and Ros Ponder is exec producing. The commissioning editor is Craig Hunter.

A third commission for BBC2 is Through a Child’s Eyes, a six-part series that provides insight into how children aged five to 11 grapple with big questions in their lives.

Created in collaboration with child experts, the series will focus on children at their after-school clubs across six different British towns and cities, and each episode will see them bring their own logic to a variety of topics including wages, war and Members of Parliament. The series will also follow the children at home through GoPro cameras worn by them to provide their unique perspectives.

Through a Child’s Eyes is exec produced for the BBC by Rachel Arnold and Samantha Anstiss. It is series produced by Tom Williams and series directed by Pamela Gordon. Elliot Reed is commissioning editor.

Finally, BBC1 is bringing back its popular ‘The Truth About…’ strand with a film focused on HIV. While past films have focused on such topics as sugar, calories and dementia, this latest program will find presenter Chris van Tulleken meeting those living with HIV, as well as experts who are leading cutting-edge research to beat the disease.

In a statement, BBC head of commissioning for natural history and specialist factual formats, called the upcoming programming “ambitious and exciting next steps for the department.

“We’re using many different forms to deliver specialist factual content in ways which feel fresh, contemporary and distinctive; from stripped events to observational documentary, presenter-led pieces to exciting new formats, we’re continuing to find new ways of bringing the extraordinary wonders of our world to the audience,” he said.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.