BBC Northern Ireland has commissioned a range of new shows from the region’s indie sector including Waddell, True North and Tern.

In response to the Coronavirus lockdown in March, BBC Northern Ireland Commissioning invited programme proposals from local independent production companies for projects that could be undertaken immediately, or developed for broadcast later in 2020/21.

BBC NI received 180 programme proposals from 35 independent production companies, ranging from newly created content to archive-based programmes. 23 programme proposals have now been  commissioned and a further 18 projects have received development support.

Among the new series commissioned are (in working titles): cookery programme Suzie Lee: Home Cook Hero from Waddell Media: a user-generated content series The People’s News from Tern Television; an archive-based series Bikes! Greatest Road Races from Greenlight Television; and Keepin ’Er Country At Home from Alleycats TV.

New single programmes commissioned include: a series of True North films including When Boxing Ends, looking at what happened to boxers when they retire from the ring, from Afro-Mic Productions; Ormiston – Ultimate Home Restoration, which follows the restoration of this grand east Belfast property and Saving The Shipyard, which documents the workers’ protest at Harland and Wolff, both of them from Below The Radar TV. A pilot programme with the comedian and social media sensation Paddy Raff has also been commissioned from Nice One Productions.

A number of programmes will also make a return in 2020/21 including: Give My Head Peace with the Hole In The Wall Gang; The Blame Game from Moondog Productions; Top Table from Third Street Studios; Home Ground from Below The Radar TV; and a third series of There’s No Place Like Tyrone from Stellify Media.

Programmes commissioned for broadcast in 2021 include: a landmark programme about Partition and the founding of Northern Ireland from DoubleBand Films; Keeping Up With The Maileys, which looks at experiences of dwarfism in a local family from Tyrone Productions; and Ireland’s Number 10 by Imagine Media, which tells the story of Irish Rugby through a profile of the greatest international players who have worn the iconic number 10 shirt.

Projects that are now moving into development stage include: a new comedy pilot from Super Lemon; a new public service crime series from Green Inc; and a film about the Chinook helicopter crash in 1994 from Fine Point Films.

BBC Northern Ireland will also continue its partnership with BBC Three and Northern Ireland Screen in securing factual entertainment pilots for the channel from the local independent sector.

BBC Northern Ireland’s in-house production teams will also produce a number of new programmes. These include an archive series Sport Re-Run,  comedy with Previously With Shane Todd and Barra On The Foyle – a follow up to last year’s popular series, Barra On The Bann.

Eddie Doyle, Head of Commissioning, BBC Northern Ireland, says: “We have been aware of difficulties and concerns within the independent production sector as a result of the Coronvirus pandemic. And we want to work with the sector in finding ways to ensure the continued supply of great programmes that reflect life in all of its different aspects and diversity for BBC audiences. This is a time of challenge, but also of real creativity. We know the critical role that the BBC plays in supporting the local independent sector and have been doing everything that we can to help underpin its survival and longer-term development. Partnership and innovation have been at the heart of our approach and I’m delighted that audiences will have so many new television programmes to look forward to.”

Further commissions will be announced in due course.

Jon Creamer