BBC Three

BBC Three

Infobox TV channel
name = BBC Three
logofile = BBC Three.svg|
logosize = 175px
logoalt = BBC Three logo
launch = 9 February 2003
picture format = 16:9, 576i (SDTV)
share = 1.3%
share as of = April 2008
share source = []
owner = BBC
country = United Kingdom
replaced names = BBC Choice
web = []
sister names = BBC One,
BBC Two,
BBC Four
terr serv 1 = Freeview
terr chan 1 = Channel 7
sat serv 1 = Freesat
sat chan 1 = Channel 106
sat serv 2 = Sky Digital
sat chan 2 = Channel 115
sat serv 3 = Astra 2D
sat chan 3 = 10773H 22000 5/6
cable serv 1 = Virgin Media
cable chan 1 = Channel 106
cable serv 2 = UPC Ireland
cable chan 2 = Channel 116
cable serv 3 = UPC Netherlands
cable chan 3 = Channel 805
cable serv 4 = WightCable
cable chan 4 = Channel 106/10
cable serv 5 = Ziggo (Netherlands)
cable chan 5 = Channel 52
cable serv 6 = Telenet (Belgium)
cable chan 6 = Channel 565
adsl serv 1 = Tiscali TV
adsl chan 1 = Channel 19
online serv 1 =
online chan 1 = [ Watch online] |

BBC Three is a television channel from the BBC broadcasting via digital cable, terrestrial, IPTV and satellite platforms. The channel is described by the BBC as an outlet for 'New drama, talent, comedy, films, and accessible news'. The channel is on-air from 19:00 to about 04:00 each night, in order to share terrestrial television bandwidth with the CBBC Channel. Unlike its commercial rivals, 90% of BBC Three's output is from the United Kingdom and other European Union countries. 80% is original, covering all genres, from current affairs, to drama, to comedy to animation. BBC Three has a unique '60 second news' format. This was adopted so that operation of the channel could be completely automated, without the complication of dealing with variable length live news broadcasts. The current controller of the station is Danny Cohen, [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Press Office - Danny Cohen named Controller of BBC Three|accessdate=2008-08-11] and the Head of Scheduling is Dan McGolpin.


The channel is the successor to the similar BBC Choice and was launched on 9 February 2003, eleven months after the originally planned launch date (and the launch of BBC Four). The delay was due to debate over its proposed format - some felt it wouldn't be sufficiently different from existing commercial channels catering to young people. The channel was launched by Stuart Murphy, who previously ran BBC Choice, and before that UK Play, the now-discontinued UKTV music and comedy channel on which ran "Rock Profile", by Matt Lucas and David Walliams (who went on to star in "Little Britain"). At 33, Murphy was the youngest channel controller in the country, a title he held since launching UK Play at the age of 26, although on 20 October 2005 it was announced that Murphy was soon to leave the channel to work in commercial television.


The channel's original idents were conceived by Stefan Marjoram at Aardman Animations and were used from launch until February 2008. Stuart Murphy was touring Aardman Animations looking for new programming ideas for BBC Three when he spotted the cone shaped creatures, he then took the idea back to the Lambie-Nairn agency, responsible for the BBC Three identity package. [cite web|url=|title=TV & Radio Bits - BBC Television Idents|accessdate=2008-08-11] A feature of this identity is also the music "Three Is The Magic Number", based (only the lyrics are copied) upon Schoolhouse Rock!. provided a number of downloads and activities based on the channel's identity, these included "BlobMate", screensavers, wallpapers and also games such as "BlobLander" and "BlobBert". The idea used by both Lambie-Nairn, who had developed the branding for CBeebies and CBBC, and Aardman, was to create the BBC Three blobs as a relation to the green and yellow blobs of the children's channels. Up until they rebranded the channel, it had two continuity announcers, Kieron Elliott, who has a Scottish accent, and also presents the breakfast show on 96.3 Rock Radio, and a female, Lola Buckley who has a Yorkshire accent.

On 22 January 2008 a new channel identity was unveiled. Rebranding was carried out by Red Bee Media, along with agencies MPG and Agency Republic with music and sound design by creative audio company Koink. [cite web|url=|title=Home - Creative Production - Original Music - Koink|accessdate=2008-08-11] The channel has 6 idents, 6 stings and 3 promo openers all produced by Nexus Productions.Fact|date=August 2008 Danny Cohen, BBC Three's Controller, speaking of the rebranding said: "I'm delighted to announce BBC Three's fantastic line-up of new programmes, along with our innovative and exciting approach to television for young audiences. BBC Three is aiming to become Britain's most ambitious multi-platform network – combining television and the web into a single, integrated offering. [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Press Office - BBC Three Winter/Spring 2008 press pack|accessdate=2008-08-11]


In early 2003, viewers could watch episodes of popular BBC soap opera "EastEnders" on BBC Three before they were broadcast on BBC One. This was to coincide with the relaunch of the channel and helped it break the one million viewers milestone for the first time. The episode was not originally commissioned for the channel. An episode of "EastEnders Revealed", which was commissioned for BBC Three, attracted 611,000 viewers.

In October 2004, BBC Three broke its previous records at the time, when 1.8 million viewers tuned in for a new series of the award-winning comedy, "Little Britain".cite press release | title = Key Facts: BBC Three | publisher = The British Broadcasting Corporation |date=2006-02 | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-08 ] "Little Britain" was later broadcast on the BBC's terrestrial analogue channels BBC One and BBC Two. In the same year newly commissioned Chris Crudelli hit Mind, Body & Kick Ass Moves was rolled out to over 100 countries.

In 2005, BBC Three showed the documentary series "Doctor Who Confidential" immediately after episodes of the new series of "Doctor Who" had been screened on BBC One. This was followed up in July 2005, when it began to screen repeats of both programmes. Coincidentally, the 1971 "Doctor Who" story "The Dæmons" featured a broadcast on a then-fictional BBC Three. In October 2005, it was announced that BBC Three had commissioned a spin-off drama series from "Doctor Who", "Torchwood", designed as a post-watershed science fiction drama for a more adult audience. "Torchwood" is the first science fiction programme ever to have been commissioned by the channel, although it had previously shown repeats of "Doctor Who" and imported programmes such as "Farscape".

"Torchwood" launched with an impressive 2.4 million viewers in October 2006, not only breaking BBC Three's previous record of 1.8 million, [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Torchwood scores record audience |url= |work= |publisher="BBC News" |date=2006-10-23 |accessdate=2008-01-03 ] but it is also believed to be the biggest ever multichannel audience for a UK-originated, non-sports programme, thought to be third to an episode of "Friends", broadcast on Sky One in 2000, which attracted 2.8 million viewers and in 2006 with Sky One's Terry Pratchett's Hogfather which attracted 2.6 million viewers.Fact|date=February 2007 The second episode attracted an equally impressive 2.3 million viewers, and boosted BBC Three to a 3.5% share of multichannel viewing that evening, compared to the network's three month Sunday average of 0.9%.Fact|date=February 2007

Successful new programmes have included "Funland", described as being a 'disturbingly funny new thriller', which first aired on Sunday 23 October 2006 at 22:00. It has since been repeated on prime-time BBC One. Other new programmes which crossed channels have been "Tittybangbang", a comedy sketch show starring Lucy Montgomery and Debbie Chazen, which first aired on 10 January 2006, and featured a range of bizarre characters, and "Man Stroke Woman", another sketch show, starring Nick Frost and Nick Burns, mostly dealing with relationships of 20- and 30-somethings, which first aired on 21 November 2005. Based on the programme's success, it began to be repeated on BBC Two. BBC Three was also the home to Monkey Dust, a twisted adult animation which graphically depicted many stereotypes such as paedophilia, racism and youth 'hoodie' violence.

The channel features hourly news updates called "60 Seconds", which includes the top news, sport and entertainment stories. It is presented in a cheeky, relaxed style in keeping with the rest of the channel. As part of the BBC's discussions with the government in whether the channel could launch originally, a longer news programme had been promised to provide a daily section of news and current affairs. "The News Show", as it came to be called upon launch was later rebranded "The 7 O'Clock News". However, the BBC discontinued the bulletin in 2005, claiming that in fact, the programme's audiences were minuscule and the output was provided elsewhere on the BBC.

In 2006, BBC Three aired the first run of a back-up show for BBC Two's "The Apprentice", "You're Fired!" until sport and high ratings moved it to BBC Two.

Popular programmes on the channel include "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps" (the channel's longest running comedy), "The Mighty Boosh" and "Family Guy". In May 2007 the channel aired the new sitcom "Gavin & Stacey" written by and staring Ruth Jones and James Corden alongside Mathew Horne, Joanna Page, Alison Steadman and Rob Brydon.

"Match of the Day Live" international football matches featuring Wales are often shown if an England match is being shown on BBC One. The channel also shows some matches of England's Women's team. The 2008 Africa Cup of Nations was shown on the channel from 20 January – 10 February 2008.

BBC Three is also home to many pan-psychology based programmes which bring topics such as addictions and childcare into an entertainment and educational context. Such programmes include "Freaky Eaters", "Spendaholics", "House of Tiny Tearways", "Sex..with Mum & Dad", "Little Angels", "Little Angels with Tanya Byron" and "Teen Angels".

New shows commissioned included Lily Allen and Friends, a variety show based on social networking, hosted by Lily Allen, [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Lily Allen and Friends|accessdate=2008-08-11] a multi-platform talent show Upstaged presented by DJ Scott Mills, a series of "hard-hitting" documentaries aimed at a young audience and six new drama pilots; [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Press Office - BBC Three commissions documentaries season|accessdate=2008-08-11] Phoo Action (which is to be made into a full series), [cite web|url=|title=BBC - Press Office - BBC Three drama pilots herald new younger drama|accessdate=2008-08-11] "Being Human" (also to be made into a series), "Mrs Inbetweeny", "West 10 LDN", "The Things I Haven't Told You" and "Dis/Connected".


. [cite web|url=|title=Is BBC Three a commercial threat? - Brand Republic Login - Brand Republic|accessdate=2008-08-11]

Its share of the audience during its transmission hours is 2.6% among 15-34 year olds, and 1.7% among all individuals. BARB, the official ratings agency, averages out BBC Three's viewing figures over 24 hours even though the channel only broadcasts in the evening, giving a distorted sense of the channel's viewership. Despite several official complaints from the BBC, BARB continues to publish figures which the BBC argues are unrepresentative. Nine million people watch BBC Three every week.


The channel has had critical and popular successes, winning more awards in its four year history than its commercial rivals (Sky One, Living, E4, ITV2, Five and Paramount Comedy Channel) have won in their combined 25-year history. In total BBC Three has won 7 BAFTA awards, 5 British Comedy Awards, 15 Royal Television Society Awards and 5 Rose d'Or Awards since the channel was launched in February 2003. Most recently, it won "Broadcast Magazine"'s "Digital Channel of the Year" Award for Best General Entertainment Channel, and MGEITF Non Terrestrial Channel of the Year.

All three of BBC Three's dramas produced in 2004 ("Outlaws", "Bodies" and "Conviction") received BAFTA nominations, as did classical music show "Flashmob The Opera".

In 2008, BBC Three's Gavin and Stacey won the BAFTA audience award and the best comedy performance award was awarded to James Corden for his part.


The channel has also come in for criticism from several corners, the most prominent of which are some of the BBC's long-standing presenters. These include John Humphrys, who argued that BBC Three and BBC Four should be shut down in the face of budget cuts to Radio 4's Today programme, which he presents,cite web|url=|title=Humphrys: BBC cost-cutters should axe new channels|author=Ian Burrell|accessdate=08-05-2008] John Sweeney of Panorama,cite web|url=|accessdate=08-05-2008|author=Daniel Bates|title=Scrap BBC Three and Four to save prestigious programmes, says veteran journalist John Humphrys] and Jeremy Paxman are among other journalists have also criticised the channel and its content.cite web|url=|title=BBC Three and Four, your number's up|author=Camilla Cavendish|accessdate=08-05-2008]

Proposed earlier start time for BBC Three

BBC Vision director Jana Bennett confirmed in an interview for Broadcast magazine in May 2008 that the BBC Trust has been petitioned to change the start of transmission time from the current time of 7pm each evening to earlier in the afternoon. A decision from the Trust is not expected until 2009. [cite web|url=|title=What Satellite & Digital TV|accessdate=2008-08-11]

Bennett said that some of the extra hours would be given over to BBC Switch the BBC's teen programming strand.


External links

*|id=bbcthree|title=BBC Three
* [ BBC Three listings] at

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