BBC Three continues to lay the groundwork for its linear television relaunch in February 2022 (six years to the month after its previous relegation to streaming-only) with the announcement of three new original non-fiction programs, including the channel’s launch-night show that brings the international smash hit RuPaul’s Drag Race to the UK for the first time.
“As we gear up for launch, we’re excited to start talking about what will be on the new channel,” BBC Three controller Fiona Campbell said in a news release. “As a destination for young audiences on the BBC, BBC Three will provide a true multi-genre offering with these commissions.”
The jewel in the channel’s crown, RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK Versus the World brings the franchise to Britain for the first time, as the drag icon (pictured) assembles popular competitors from previous iterations of the show to claw their way to the title of the first-ever Global Drag Race Superstar. The series will debut on BBC Three launch night, and will be available for streaming on the BBC iPlayer.
A more sobering offering, the true-crime miniseries Santa Claus the Serial Killer, follows Mobeen Azhar – the British journalist behind the award-winning BBC docuseries Hometown: A Killing – as he comes to Toronto, Canada to explore the grisly case of Bruce McArthur, a sexagenarian shopping-mall Santa Claus who was arrested in 2018 after the remains of eight men were discovered on properties where he had been employed as a landscaper.
McArthur’s victims were all gay men from economically, socially and/or racially marginalized groups, at least half of whom had met their killer in Toronto’s Gay Village. The unexplained disappearances of these men had led many in the city’s gay community to fear that a serial killer was targeting them, but increasingly urgent appeals to the police during the seven-year period that McArthur perpetrated his crimes did not produce the vigorous response that the community felt was warranted.
“What quickly became clear [as I made this series] was that this was not just a story about a serial killer, but about policing, the immigrant experience and how our communities take care of each other,” Azhar said.
Santa Claus the Serial Killer will screen as a series of six 30-minute episodes on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.
Rounding out today’s announcement was Flight Club, a 10-episode series that marks the first product of a new BBC initiative to partner with independent Scottish production companies on factual programming with an aspirational slant that focuses on young people aged 16 to 24. Produced by Mentorn Scotland, this observational series follows the youthful employees of the Scottish airline Loganair.
“Flight Club is a brilliant first commission from our partnership with BBC Scotland and Screen Scotland,” Campbell said. “With great characters being their authentic selves doing something they love and regional voices and stories, it has all the ingredients we love in a show.”
Although an exact date has not yet been confirmed, BBC Three has announced that it will make its return to broadcast television in early February 2022.