BBC raises religious game
Charlotte Moore unveils landmark, with commissioners ‘more joined up than ever’
The BBC is to embed religious themes more regularly into programming across all genres as it unveils a Faith and Hope for Spring 2021 season complete with BBC1 landmark.
Chief content officer Charlotte Moore said her commissioning teams are “more joined up than ever” around cross-genre religious themes, helped by preparations for the commissioning restructure that kicks off next month.
A religious steering group led by Moore with commissioning editor Daisy Scalchi and several others is meeting once every two months and feeding back to genre teams on how they can better represent all religions, tell religious stories and cover areas such as live worship.
Speaking on a webinar this morning, Moore said the BBC’s behind-the-camera diversity push is also helping with attempts to represent people across the religious spectrum.
“The pandemic has changed how we’re thinking about reaching communities and the amount we can now communicate means we are much closer to our audiences,” she added.
Scalchi cited Saturday Kitchen spin-off Celebration Kitchen and landmarks such as BBC2 drama The Windermere Children and doc series Michael Palin: Travels of a Lifetime as “examples where religion can be included across a wide variety of content”.
A dedicated religion rail on iPlayer will soon launch, along with a BBC Sounds section.
“Conversations about religiosity have come to the surface since lockdown and we can see that reflected in the wider range of viewers who are coming to our religious programmes,” said Scalchi.
“We can also do more in terms of providing content about specific faiths or reflecting beliefs that may fall outside of a specific religious lens.”
Leading the Faith and Hope for Spring season is a BBC1 five-parter called Being… from Channel 4 Growth Fund indie Proper Content and Banijay-backed Workerbee.
Each episode will spotlight a different religious group, highlighting how faiths celebrate life’s big milestones.
Proper is forging the Jewish and Hindu episodes and Workerbee is behind Christian, Muslim and Sikh. David Dehaney and Michelle Chappell are exec producing.
BBC1 is also to show the Easter Day Eucharist with Archbishop of Canterbury next month, while BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Scotland are also behind other religious shows and there is a huge range of radio programming.
By: Max Goldbart