BBC Launches New iPlayer, Unveils Slate Of Original Commissions

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The BBC is today launching a new version of their video on-demand service: the BBC iPlayer.

The redesigned iPlayer – a major part of DG Tony Hall’s strategy, with him having previously said he wanted to make it a “front door” to the corporation’s output rather than simply operating as a catch up service – features a number of design changes that the BBC said were “built for the future.”

Amongst the changes are a more responsive design; better content recommendations for users; a smarter search function, a “collections” feature which shows programmes linked by theme, events of moments in time; image-led navigation; improved playback experience; content branded by channel, itself an important development with plans to move BBC Three content online in 2015 when it will still carry the BBC Three branding; and a new user designated favourites section.

The new-look service will also have a greater focus on original content and, to that end, the BBC today also announced a wealth of original commissions for the iPlayer including comedies from Frankie Boyle, Micky Flanagan & Stewart Lee; more drama shorts and documentaries; as well as the new season of People Just Do Nothing, which began its life as one of the BBC Three Comedy Feeds that launched first on iPlayer last year.

“This is an exciting day for us. BBC iPlayer is really popular, and new iPlayer will be even better”, said BBC Director General Tony Hall. “You’ll be able to find so many more programmes you might like – and I hope everyone enjoys the new design. It’s just a first step to re-inventing BBC iPlayer, the best online television service in the world.”

The BBC’s Slate Of Original Commissions For The iPlayer Follows Below:

Drama Shorts

Three previously announced commissions – Flea, Tag and My Jihad – are part of the so called “Original Drama Shorts”, which is a two year programme to produce shortform original dramas for an online only audience. The program is aimed, in large part, to find emerging talent who, otherwise, would have a hard time breaking through. The three aforementioned shorts are available on the iPlayer from today.

Comedy Shorts

The BBC today announced that they had commissioned 7 comedy shorts. Each one comes from one of the UK’s top comedians, all of whom were invited to create a piece exclusively for the iPlayer. The shorts – which hail from Frankie Boyle, Bob Mortimer, Meera Syal, Morgana Robinson, Micky Flanagan, Matt Berry and Stewart Lee – have no set duration and range from an Austro-German medical caper set in the 1940s, to a interactive cookery show. The shorts will be available on the iPlayer from May 2014.

People Just Do Nothing

Initially being piloted on BBC iPlayer last July, People Just Do Nothing returns for a full series after securing a 4 episode commission from BBC Three. The mockumentary about pirate radio station Kurupt FM and its crew is written by Steve Stamp and Seapa Mustafa, with additional material from Asim Chaudhry, Hugo Chegwin, Lily Brazier and Ben Murray. Roughcut Television is producing, with Jon Petrie serving as producer. The executive producer is Ash Atalla. The series premieres on iPlayer in May 2014, ahead of a linear broadcast on BBC Three.

My God, It’s Full Of Fans

An exclusive iPlayer film, My God, It’s Full of Fans is a companion piece to the BBC Two series My God, It’s Full Of Stars. The film takes a look at the word of sci-fi fandom with the co-founders The Geek Syndicate website and podcasts acting as guides. The film is produced by BBC Arts Bristol, with Michael Poole serving as the executive producer.

Adam Curtis Trilogy

Adam Curtis is set to create three projects exclusively for the iPlayer, which are designed to explore the new possibilities for storytelling that the platform has opened up. The first such story will be about what has happened to power in Britain over the past 30 years; the second about the relationship between the West and Afghanistan over the past century, while the third is a collaboration with the band Massive Attack and explores how we have become haunted by the past & have no vision of the future.

The Great War Interviews Collection

As part of the BBC’s output for the WWI centenary, The Great War Interviews is a series of interviews with war veterans and civilians that have been commissioned as a BBC Four Collection for the iPlayer. The collection consists of 13 interviews and is derived from the footage shot for the 1964 BBC series The Great War. The collection is available to view on the iPlayer from today onwards.

Chelsea Flower Show Collection

A new collection for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, the iPlayer exclusive content promises to take viewers on an exclusive in-depth tour of the show gardens and will showcases five individual garden profiles each day. It will also feature specially shot interviews with the designers and reviews from the Chelsea Flower Show team. The collection will be available on the iPlayer from May 2014.

Matisse: The Cut-Outs Exhibition

In this iPlayer commission, BBC Arts takes viewers inside the Tate Modern to experience Matisse’s The Cut Outs exhibition. Audiences will be guided through the exhibition by musician and artist Goldie who will offer his own very personal perspectives on a selection of the 120 works. Matisse: The Cut-Outs Exhibition will be available on the iPlayer from next month.