BBC Northern Ireland hits the sun to meet targets

Daytime show ‘Wanted Down Under’ contributing to 125 hours of network production

BBC Northern Ireland is getting deeper into daytime TV as part of its push to increase the amount of programming it makes for the wider BBC television network to 125 hours in 2014.

The division has taken over the production of Wanted Down Under, the BBC series in which families relocate to sunnier climates, and it is also producing Real Lives Reunited, in which disaster survivors are reconnected with the people who saved their lives.

The two shows are generating 27.5 hours of programming for the network-wide BBC One morning schedule, with 30 episodes of Wanted Down Under (including 10 "update" shows) accounting for 22.5 of those hours.

Making more programmes
As BBC NI's new head of productions, former RTÉ executive Steve Carson is charged with making more programmes for viewers outside the region, as well as serving its domestic audience, because the BBC wants the people who appear of its screens to better reflect its licence fee-paying base.

Carson says it is his ambition “to improve representation of Northern Ireland to audiences across the whole UK”.

That includes showcasing the stories of people keen to leave.

Two of the families flirting with emigration on the current series of Wanted Down Under are from Northern Ireland, with the Schnell family from Cushendall, Co Antrim, featuring in the episode due for broadcast today.

The show, which gives participants a week-long taster of a new life, is in its eighth run, with the new series involving 113 contributors and 1.5 million miles of travel. It regularly attracts 2 million viewers.

After increasing its network production hours from 73.5 in 2012 to 98 last year, BBC NI is on track to achieve its target of 3 per cent of total network spending by 2016, says Carson.

As well as its productions for the BBC One daytime line-up, it makes the BBC Two dramas Line of Duty and The Fall, while the target will also be reached by contributing segments to BBC in-house factual programmes such as The One Show and Sunday Morning Live.