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BBC progress report on £112m diverse production and talent investment

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n the industry – which prioritises £112m of our existing commissioning budget over three years (from 2021/22 – 2023/24) towards diverse and inclusive content.

Following the first year of the commitment, the BBC has invested £44m in supporting a total of 67 TV programmes across all genres to increase diversity and inclusion, both on and off air. The programmes were made by 48 different independent production companies, with 73% of those companies having diverse leadership and 10% had never been commissioned by the BBC before this year. In addition, £4m has been invested in supporting 90 diverse Radio commissions.

The BBC is on track to investing the full £112m commitment – £100m for TV and £12m for Radio – by 2023/24.

The BBC has broadcast a huge array of diverse TV programmes across the year which authentically reflects our audiences, nurturing diverse voices and working with diverse casts and crews, from BBC Three’s ‘Tonight With Target’, drama ‘Then Barbara Met Alan’, ‘Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star’, documentary ‘This Girl’s Changed’, ‘Young, Welsh and…, Bossin’ It’ and ‘Krept and Konan: We Are England’, to live coverage of the ‘Woman’s Super League’, BBC Children’s ‘Magic Hands – Black History Songs’ and ‘Snaps – Listen, Dad’, BBC Scotland’s ‘The Bhangra Boss – The Story of DJ Vips’, BBC Arts film ‘Salt’ and comedy ‘Dreaming Whilst Black’.

In Radio, diverse programming included 5 Live podcast ‘Tony Bellew Is Angry’, 1Xtra’s ‘Pressed’ and ‘1Xtra talk’, Radio 4’s ‘Takeover’ and ‘Jazz and Dice’, ‘Sport’s Strangest Crimes: Man Who Bought Cricket’ and ‘At Home with the Khans’.

All programmes that qualified for the financial investment met at least two of the following three criteria:

Diverse stories and portrayals

Diverse production leadership

Diverse company leadership

The criteria were discussed at the point of the programme’s commission and then measured at transmission, ensuring the BBC is looking for, developing and choosing programmes that represent all audiences across the UK and accelerate the pace of change in increasing diversity and inclusion across the industry.

The commitment is one of a series of bold steps to transform the BBC’s programming and better represent the public it serves. The BBC has been actively growing our relationship with diverse-led production companies this year and providing more training and support on productions.

The financial investment is supported by a new expectation that for all new commissions since April 2021, production companies should recruit 20% of their production teams from under-represented groups. To support suppliers to achieve this target, the BBC Creative Diversity team have hosted masterclasses including commissioner-led case studies on how productions such as ‘Glow Up’ and ‘Ambulance’ had achieved 20%, offering valuable insight and advice for other productions to follow.

In the last year BBC TV also invested in more than 45 talent and skills development schemes, 66% of which had a diversity focus or target – and over 60% of which were outside London. BBC Writersroom has supported a total of 149 writers this year, with 33% from ethnically diverse backgrounds, 28% from lower socio-economic groups and 25% have a disability.

In addition, the Diverse Talent Development Fund , which ring-fences £2m a year to support companies to develop diverse on and off-screen talent, has supported a total of 146 programmes in 2021/22 including ‘Everything I Know About Love’ and ‘Blankety Blank’.

The BBC Elevate scheme has been progressing the careers of mid-level deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent and now supports 30 placements with six-to-12-month placements within production companies, with tailored training, coaching and mentoring, and support for the company.

In Radio, the BBC Sounds Audio Lab launched in July 2021 and is accelerating the development of emerging audio creatives, with a particular focus on under-represented groups and talent, hosting five masterclasses with diverse panels this year. BBC Radio also launched its £250k Indie Development Fund in November 2021 to support diverse independent production companies to be commissioned by the BBC.

June Sarpong, BBC Director of Creative Diversity, says: “The BBC is for everyone and audiences from all backgrounds rightly expect to see themselves represented in our programmes. That’s why we are leading the way by making the biggest financial investment to on-air inclusion in the industry. I’m delighted by the progress we’ve made in the first year which is an important milestone and provides a solid foundation for us to go even further to ensure the BBC truly reflects the public we serve.”

The BBC Diversity Commissioning Code of Practice Progress Report is available below.