BBC Three and BBC England are partnering with Create Central to launch West Midlands Voices, a new creative partnership focused on nurturing West Midlands-based talent and creativity. The partnership is inviting independent production companies based in the West Midlands to submit documentary ideas that reflect the life experiences of 13-24-year olds, and will be commissioning two production companies to make a film each.
The scheme aims to celebrate the inclusive spirit of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, focussing on people and stories within the West Midlands in the lead up to the Birmingham Games, with a broad theme of “Making Your Way” in life. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, relationships, family, friendship, money and business, jobs, study, sport, and overcoming hurdles.
Create Central launched its initial programme of activities in July 2020 to help drive forward the growth of the creative content sector.
In March, the BBC announced a new commitment to the Midlands as part of its efforts to better reflect the UK. The plans will see at least one new primetime drama series and one new primetime entertainment series in the region, joining Great British Menu in the Midlands, and The Asian Network will be consolidated in Birmingham and Newsbeat will move to the city – providing news content for Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra and Asian Network. The BBC will also pilot an Apprentice Training Agency in the Midlands.
Word from BBC Three and BBC England
Fiona Campbell, controller, BBC Three, says: “This latest partnership reinforces BBC Three’s commitment to developing better working relationships across the UK to deliver programming that is more representative of the whole of the UK. These incentives are a brilliant breeding ground for creativity and new talent which is positive for the industry and positive for the audience. We’re looking forward to working with BBC England again and excited by what we can achieve with this new partnership with Create Central.”
Aisling O’Connor, head of TV commissioning, BBC England, says: “BBC England TV Commissioning is based in Birmingham and the West Midlands is a key areas of focus for us. We want to grow our existing commissions in the West Midlands and help nurture local talent and companies. We already have a close working relationship with BBC Three and I’m delighted to extend that with this new creative partnership. I also look forward to working with Create Central and finding diverse and rich stories from this vibrant and exciting region of England.’
Apply to West Midlands Voices
Expressions of interest will be accepted from 10 June 2021 – 22 July 2021. A briefing will be held towards the end of June, where BBC and Create Central representatives will talk about the partnership and the creative brief in more detail.
The BBC Three and BBC England team will then shortlist up to six Indies to share further details of their ideas via BBC Pitch, prior to entering into a period of paid development and project scoping. Successful submissions will be notified, and invited to pitch in front of a team of BBC England and BBC Three commissioners in September 2021.
After the pitching session, BBC England and BBC Three teams will select two indies to each produce a documentary film, to be TX’d on both network television and iPlayer in the lead up the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
The full commissioning brief, details on the partnership, how to apply, guidance on pitching, selection criteria and the timeline are available via the BBC Commissioning website.