Entertainment03 September 2021
The BBC and Netflix have formed a groundbreaking partnership to develop and fund new, ambitious dramas featuring disabled creatives both in front of and behind the camera.
Building on the existing commitments of both the BBC and Netflix, the five year partnership has been designed to increase representation of disabled talent both on-screen and off-screen, to widen the range of stories produced and give disabled writers and creatives greater choice when it comes to the sort of stories they wish to tell.
The BBC and Netflix will consider projects from UK producers that have been created or co-created by writers who identify as deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent. All projects are to be created or co-created by deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers. Pitches can draw imaginatively on any genre, precinct or world. We are looking for ideas which feel ambitious and elevated, and which challenge the limits that the industry might unconsciously put on disability. The intention of the partnership is to firmly place the shows alongside our most talked about and original dramas already being developed.
All projects will be assessed and developed jointly, but the BBC will be the point of entry for all project submissions and pitches for the initiative. The BBC and Netflix will issue a creative brief and outline of the process which will be made available to all producers, alongside a webinar.
Piers Wenger, BBC Director of Drama, says: “Jack’s powerful, memorable MacTaggart has shone a revealing light onto the extent of the challenges faced by disabled creatives. We recognise the need for change and we hope that in coming together the BBC and Netflix have created a funding model which will help level the playing field for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent creators in the UK. We would like to thank Anne and her team for the readiness and vision they have shown in coming on board to develop this initiative with us.”
Anne Mensah, Netflix Vice President, Series, UK, said: “Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent creators are some of the least well represented groups on television in the UK. Put simply, we want to change that fact. Together with the BBC, we hope to help these creators to tell the biggest and boldest stories and speak to the broadest possible British and Global audience. It’s been hugely exciting to develop this project with Piers Wenger and the BBC Drama team and we are incredibly passionate about the creative possibilities of this partnership.”
Our intention is to co-commission dramas which will place disability front and centre. We want to level the playing field in terms of opportunities available to deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent, and to increase the range, scope and ambition of stories featuring disability.
Drawing imaginatively on any genre, precinct or world, we are looking for ideas which feel fresh and elevated and challenge any limits that the industry consciously or unconsciously puts upon disability. Returnability is desirable but not essential to all of the ideas - not least because the intention is to firmly place these shows at the core of our content and our audience’s hearts.
We would like the pieces to be written, created or co-created by deaf, disabled or neurodivergent talent. Disability has been under-represented on screen and disabled talent under-represented off screen, for too long. This initiative is part of the wider work both Netflix and BBC are doing to deliver entertaining, celebratory work that is game-changing for representation and a must-see for our audiences.
Please note this opportunity is open to eligible UK based production companies only (please see eligibility criteria below). If you are a writer with an idea or script or would like to find out more about how you can work with BBC drama, please see the working with writers page.
Submissions should be sent to BBCNetflixIdeas@bbc.co.uk
All submissions will be reviewed by BBC Drama and Netflix and responses and feedback will be made jointly.
This opportunity is for UK based independent production companies who have either had:
(a) A BBC TV commission in the last three years (including BBC Films shown on a BBC UK platform).
(b) A TV commission for original content from another major UK broadcaster or SVOD platform available in UK in the last three years.
Further details of a webinar briefing will be announced in due course.