The “deep-rooted cultural affinity” that connects Australia and the BBC

BBC Showcase 2024

BBC Showcase 2024: What to expect and what the rest of the year holds.

The 2024 BBC Studios Showcase is set to launch in Central London from 26 – 27th February 2024. Now in its 48th year, the showcase continues to evolve as the brand looks to build more strategic partnerships and to show off its programming – alongside thought leadership sessions and immersive experiences for partners and clients.

Mediweek spoke with Mark Linsey, managing director scripted, and Kate Ward, managing director factual for BBC Studios ahead of the showcase to speak about what’s on offer and the value of the Australian market to the BBC.

BBC Mark and Kate

Mark Linsey and Kate Ward

With a wide range of shows being put in the spotlight, it’s quite a task to pick out a handful of highlights. However, there are a few titles that stand out in the minds of Linsey and Ward – including scripted comedy drama series Douglas is Cancelled, Sherwood, and Time.

In the factual realm, highlights include natural history landmark Asia, Solar System, Einstein and the Bomb, and the recently announced ABBA: Against the Odds documentary. 

Despite Britain being about as far away from Australia as it’s possible to physically get, BBC content continues to resonate Down Under. For the BBC, the pair say the relationship between the two countries forms the basis for the success of the brand in Australia.

Ward: “The Aussie market has always been an incredibly vibrant market and an audience that really, really knows their telly. As BBC and BBC studios, we’re one of the most trusted brands in the world and that resonates in the Australian marketplace.

“That familiarity that we have in the Australian market is really powerful. We’re very proud that so much of our work is seen in Australia.”

Linsey: “It’s a two-way street – we enjoy Australian content as much as you enjoy British content. I think the synergies are obvious and very, very deep-rooted. 

“We shouldn’t underestimate the value of the Australian market to the BBC, the deep-rooted cultural affinity that we have is something that we don’t talk enough about. Australian drama and comedy feel very vibrant at the moment compared to other markets, and when I hear our production teams based in Sydney talking about it, it’s really exciting.”

More broadly, international viewers are a significant part of the BBC’s audience, and ones that Ward and Linsey say are always in mind when it comes to creating content. 

Ward: “We are so enormously proud that the work we do is seen all throughout the world. We’re thinking globally all the time – for example, we know our big natural history projects have global appeal and are seen by millions and millions all over the world. But we’re also thinking about the universal subjects in factual that shape things for so many of us. 

“We’re thinking big subjects, big moments, the power that we have in factual to bring people together. I think that’s shown in how widely our shows are watched.”

BBC Studios

Linsey: “International funding is a fundamental part of any budget, and will increasingly be so. It does go back to us being a fully integrated studio.

“We are a British company, we stand for outstanding British creativity – that is our unique selling point, and one we should be proud of. It’s that authenticity of storytelling, if it’s strong storytelling, a good drama that’s been well cast, then it should find a home overseas and in places like Australia.”

With the Showcase the first major BBC event for 2024, it marks the beginning of what is shaping up to be a big year for the broadcaster. Looking ahead, the pair say that this year will be about continuing to build on the content that the BBC is known for.

Linsey: “We never try to be too prescriptive with our creatives it just getting back to that authenticity of voice and storytelling. We are keen to maintain our range of premium scripted content that we know appeals to wider markets including Australian audiences. Maintaining that excellence in premium content is really key to us, despite the challenges around funding.”

Ward: “Building worlds, creative innovation, and growing the partners that we work with are my three big things for 2024. But above all of that, the thing that will always get me most excited and get me out of bed in the morning is the programming. It’s a true privilege to be in factual at BBC Studios, because it’s the kind of portfolio of creativity that takes your breath away.”

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