BBC Northern Ireland has commissioned a range of new television programmes in a bid to to support the local arts sector amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
In response to the coronavirus lockdown in March, BBC Northern Ireland Commissioning invited programme proposals from local independent production companies for projects to broadcast later this year and into 2021.
BBC NI received 180 programme proposals from 35 independent production companies, ranging from newly-created content to archive-based programmes.
Of those, 23 have been commissioned and a further 18 projects given development support.
Among the new television content to air on BBC NI over the coming months will be a new cookery programme with BBC One’s Best Home Cook winner Suzie Lee, a comedy pilot with comedian Paddy Raff and an ‘at home’ version of Keeping ’Er Country.
They will also be a user-generated content series involving the Northern Ireland public on what’s happening in their lives.
Many of the new commissions reflect life during the coronavirus pandemic. They aim to provide light relief and a mix of inspiring and uplifting stories from across Northern Ireland.
Eddie Doyle, head of commissioning, BBC Northern Ireland, said: “We have been aware of difficulties and concerns within the independent production sector as a result of the coronvirus pandemic.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
A number of popular programmes will return in 2020/21 including: Give My Head Peace, The Blame Game, Top Table, Home Ground, and a third series of There’s No Place Like Tyrone.
Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, BBC NI had more than 30 projects from the independent sector already in production and a further 20 at an early development stage. The BBC says it is working to support all of this activity in different ways taking account of current restrictions and uncertainties.
BBC NI 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.
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.
Further commissions will be announced in due course.