A decision about BBC 3 being given a linear slot is expected at the start of 2021, according to channel controller Fiona Campbell.

“The linear portfolio is still really powerful,” said Campbell, speaking at Edinburgh Festival to an online audience. “A lot of global players would die for the power of linear channels….We want to make it easy for viewers to find the content in the way they live their lives.

Drama and comedy have been rich seams for BBC3, with Another Country being a go-to lockdown title and Normal People ratcheting up almost 60 million iplayer requests. Factual dramas and docs have also played well, with a six part doc Planet Sex, fronted by Cara Delvingue announced recently and one-hour special Joey Essex: Who Am I?  from Objective revealed at the session.

Asked if BBC 3 would look at new fact ent ideas, Campbell said that yes, with shows that are “noisy enough to cut through, with the likes of The Rap Game.” She also pointed to sport as an area of interest for the channel and talked about new dance-meets-dating reality series Dance Crush, in production from BBC Studios.

Working towards a Spring tx, Meet The Khans: Big in Bolton from Chatterbox follows boxer Amir Khan and his wife social influencer Faryal Makhdoom, The access doc – about business, about family, about relationships – “epitomises what BBC 3 is about,” says Campbell.

Speaking alongside Campbell, BBC controller of Comedy Commissioning Shane Allen looked to the future shape of comedy: “A lot of comedy has been about taboos,” said Allen. “We’re now in age of identities and the more unique and distinct and the more sense of place you have ….Follow the money, that’s what’s going to be commissioned.”

Covid has inevitably slowed down the commissioning and producing process. Allen explained that there has been a focus on development, working up scripts and pilots. When shows get a green light, they will be more expensive because of Covid protocols. “It’s creating inflation on budgets,” said Allen. “but no budgets are going to get cut because these are costs that are needed.”

Pippa Considine