BBC First announces new lineup for ‘linear-driven’ audiences

Foxtel channel BBC First has launched an all new lineup of drama, saying it hasn’t seen a major shift in the way audiences consume shows.

Tim Christlieb, director of branded services, BBC Studios, Australia and New Zealand, told Mumbrella that despite audience shifts on commercial free to air television, BBC First’s audience was still linear driven.

It’s a television channel that people are tuning in to,” he said.

“They might then use the catch up service if they missed the TX time but it’s principally driven by what we’re scheduling on the channel rather than the sort of deep archive experimenting through the on demand section.”

His comments came at the launch of BBC First’s upcoming slate, which includes new dramas The Little Drummer Girl, Les Miserables, Baptiste and The Press. The next eight months will also see the return of Luther, Tin Star, Peaky Blinders, Victoria, Call The Midwife and Death in Paradise.

Christlieb said that although the audience was mainly linear driven, it did consolidate well.

“It’s probably the highest consolidating channel on the platform in terms of you know post TX viewing. But it’s principally stuff that’s coming off the channel,” he said.

BBC First’s audience is skewed older, Christlieb added, but the level of engagement from that audience provided a strong opportunity to advertisers.

“As I said, we’ve found that not only the premium element of it but the level of engagement that comes with that but premium brands, can really target a high end audience. Their products are premium and they are aimed at similar audiences to our dramas so they find create synergy,” Christlieb said.

The time spent viewing on the channel is very high because of the quality of the content and much of that is because of the quality of the writer rates so people typically stick with the channel for long periods of time, which gives the brand a really good opportunity to speak to them over and over again.”

Commenting on the international drama community, Liam Keelan, BBC Studios’ global scripted portfolio director, said while there was more investment than ever, escalating budgets and competition for talent were challenges.

“The number of dramas that are being produced is leading to an escalation of costs just inevitably because people are fighting for the same on and off screen talent. That’s a challenge and we’re fortunate to be in parts of the BBC that people recognise that if you’re on the BBC you are going to be seen by a really wide audience that counts in our favour,” Keelan said.

But he’s confident in BBC’s ability to deliver a strong range of drama.

“I’m talking to the drama commissioning team all the time and it’s really interesting actually the way they talk about what shows they are after and something like Dr Foster was a massive hit in the UK. But  they then got pitched lots of show that there were similar to Dr Foster,” Keelan said.

“For them it was like – Dr Foster is brilliant but we now need to move on and come up with different stories and give new opportunities to different writers as well. So they are constantly innovating because that is what the licence fee is to do.”

Christlieb added: “That’s what BBC First has the luxury of doing here: That we offer such a breadth of different types of drama – everything from Les Mis to Press. And on the channel we’ve had some really interesting rating success stories with stuff that you perhaps wouldn’t pick as a big ticket drama. People trust the brand.”



Based John le Carré’s spy thriller, The Little Drummer Girl is the latest adaptation from the team behind the BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe winning series The Night Manager. Starring Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies), Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) and Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), the series is directed by visionary filmmakerPark Chan-wook (Old Boy, The Handmaiden). Brilliant young actress Charlie strikes up an acquaintance with an intriguing stranger while on holiday in Greece, but it rapidly becomes apparent that his intentions are far from romantic. The man is Becker, an Israeli intelligence officer, who entangles her in a complex and high stakes plot orchestrated by Israeli Spymaster Kurtz. Set in the late 1970s, yet sharply contemporary, The Little Drummer Girl weaves a dynamic and exciting story of espionage and international intrigue, love and betrayal.


Adapted by Andrew Davies from Victor Hugo’s 19th Century classic, Les Misérables stars Dominic West as Jean Valjean,David Oyelowo as Javert and Lily Collins as Fantine. The series brings to life a vast and unforgettable cast of characters and tells the story of Valjean, a former convict unable to escape the shadow of his past life, and his relentless pursuit by the chilling police officer Javert. Their cat and mouse relationship plays out against the epic backdrop of France at a time of civil unrest.


Golden Globe winning Idris Elba returns to the iconic role of DCI John Luther with a fifth series created by Emmy-nominated writer Neil Cross.  Luther and new recruit D.S. Catherine Halliday played by Wunmi Mosaku investigate a series of horrific killings in London. But as the case brings him closer than ever to the nature of true evil, a reluctant Luther must also face the ghosts of his own past. Striding back into the line of fire, he must choose who to protect… and who to sacrifice. Whatever his next move, it will have devastating consequences for those around him – and will change John Luther forever. 


Tchéky Karyo reprises his role as French detective Julien Baptiste from The Missing in a spin-off series. Baptiste and his wife are on a visit to Amsterdam when the Chief of Police – who also happens to be an old girlfriend – seeks out his help due to his renowned and methodical crime-solving skills.  He is rapidly embroiled in a case that looks beyond the beautiful streets, canals and house of Amsterdam to the seamy underworld beneath.  The series also stars Jessica Raine (Patrick Melrose) and Tom Hollander (The Night Manager).


Written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster) and set in the fast-paced and challenging environment of the British newspaper industry, Press explores the personal lives and constant professional dilemmas facing the journalists who work at two rival newspapers. The series follows their lives as they attempt to balance work and play, ambition and integrity, amid the never-ending pressure of the 24-hour global news cycle and an industry in turmoil. The series stars Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders) as the talented and hardworking Deputy News Editor of The Herald, a left-leaning broadsheet; Ben Chaplin (Apple Tree Yard) as the charming and manipulative Editor of The Post; David Suchet (Poirot) as the CEO of the multimedia conglomerate that owns The Post; and Brendan Cowell (Love My Way) as the News Editor of The Herald.


Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) returns as Jim Worth, the alcoholic former London detective who moved to the town of Little Big Bear in the Canadian Rockies to escape his troubled past.  That quiet life was shattered when he took on the oil company that dominates the town and re-awoke his violent alter ego in order to protect his wife and daughter after his son is killed. The second series picks up where the first left off and sees his daughter Anna seeking refuge from her parents with a family in a religious community near the town.  It’s not long before she discovers that the seemingly idyllic family have a disturbing secret of their own.  The series also stars Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Genevieve O’Reilly (Glitch) and Abigail Lawrie (The Casual Vacancy).


Starring Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) and Tom Hughes (Paula), series three promises some new faces, more drama and more intrigue.  Starting in 1848 it covers a turbulent and uncertain time for both Europe and the monarchy. With revolutions on the continent and the Chartist movement reaching its peak in London, Victoria is under pressure from the government to leave London for her own safety and beneath the façade of their united bond, Victoria’s relationship with Albert is at breaking point.Laurence Fox joins the cast as wayward Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston and Kate Fleetwood as Victoria’s sister, who makes an unexpected return into the Queen’s life.


The Christmas Special will guest star Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter) as the forthright and indefatigable Sister Mildred who arrives at Nonnatus House together with four Chinese orphans. Having fled China, the child refugees were found abandoned in Hong Kong and are being adopted in the UK as part of the World Refugee Project. With Christmas preparations in full flow and the midwives busy caring for the expectant mothers of Poplar, these unexpected visitors cause joy and chaos in equal measure.

Series 8 starts in the spring of 1964 with the eagerly anticipated birth of the Queen’s fourth child and two new Sisters who have been sent to live and work at Nonnatus House.


Ardal O’Hanlon returns as DI Jack Moone. The Saint Marie police are joined by new recruit, Officer Ruby Patterson (Shyko Amos), who also happens to be Commissioner Patterson’s niece, which gives the team a challenge or two.


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