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£57m Young Audiences Content Fund Announces First Slate

6 November 2019

BBC ALBA is one of six UK broadcasters to reveal it has secured funding from the new Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), which is managed by the BFI and made possible with up to £57m Government funding.

Funding is in place for two live action specials for 8-11 year-olds in Scottish Gaelic, helping to ensure this key cultural community is celebrated in young people’s programming and young Gaelic-speaking children are reflected on screen.

This comes as the YACF announces its first slate of production and development awards, indicating the significant positive impact it is having on the sector. In just six months, the Fund is co-funding a mix of nine series and specials, across six broadcasters: Channel 5, ITV, BBC ALBA, S4C, TG4 and Sky.

This exciting initial slate embraces all techniques, genres and audiences, from factual entertainment for preschoolers to gripping drama for teens. It is also contributing to the Fund’s 5% target for indigenous language content.

Sorbier Productions will make two programmes for BBC ALBA:

  • • Rùn / Secret from Sorbier Productions is a quirky comedy drama about listening and learning, in which a mischievous deaf boy’s world is transformed thanks to a four-legged friend who becomes the “ears” he never had
  • • Lachlan, Balach aig a’ Mhullach / Boy at the Top also from Sorbier Productions is a breath-taking documentary charting a boy’s attempt to climb the equivalent of Everest – mountain by mountain!

Additionally, Paper Owl Films Ltd will make SOL, a co-commission from BBC ALBA, S4C and TG4:

  • • To be produced in three different languages: Welsh, Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic. SOL will tell the story of young Sol’s imaginary quest to save the world, following the death of his gran, in this innovative and touching animation to help 8-11 year-olds understand the nature of grief

The wider slate includes: factual live action shows Meet the Experts (Channel 5’s Milkshake!) and How! (CITV), plus FYI News Specials (Fresh News TV, Sky News, Sky Kids), alongside live action dramas, Person/A (S4C) and Y Gyfrinach/The Secret (S4C). Also funded are preschool mixed media drama such as Mimi’s World (Channel 5’s Milkshake!).

Lachlan Balach aig a' Mhullach - Lachlan on top of Ben Nevis

BBC ALBA – which is operated by MG ALBA in partnership with the BBC – is benefiting from an increasingly innovative approach to funding new content.

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

“I am delighted with the positive impact of the Young Audiences Content Fund in its first six months. We need to continue to produce home-grown and original content that inspires our younger generation and is representative of the world they live in.

“It’s fantastic to see the Fund is helping really creative and inspiring projects happen and I encourage broadcasters to continue in their positive engagement with it.”

Jackie Edwards, Head of the Young Audiences Content Fund, said:

“We have been thrilled by the quality of the applications, but it is the commitment and level of partnership from the Broadcasters that is helping ensure the positive impact of the Fund. By them seizing the opportunities the Fund offers, and opening up their schedules and their budgets, we are bringing brilliant new content to children and young people. I am truly excited by what we can achieve together, and having awarded almost £3.8m in the first months of the Fund, I am confident we can do so much more!”

Iseabail Mactaggart, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at MG ALBA, which operates BBC ALBA in partnership with the BBC said:

“We’re delighted that BBC ALBA and Gaelic-speaking children have been able to benefit from the Young Audiences Content Fund. The specific funding for non-English UK languages like Gaelic and Welsh is hugely supportive and it’s inspiring that one of our suppliers has been so successful during the early stages of the fund. Sorbier has been creating award-winning children’s programming for a number of years and access to UK and international funds are what brings these projects to fruition. Gaelic medium education is growing in Scotland and having live-action children’s programming like this is vital for those children, their families and the education system.”

YACF has also made 15 Development Awards for a number of ambitious projects signalling this is just a taste of things to come from UK talent working in this space. The YACF was devised to reinvigorate the sector and is set to be a game changer in the creation of high-quality new original programming for children and young people on free-to-access, Ofcom regulated services.

Addressing a historic lack of investment in content creation for this age group, the Fund is backing projects that entertain, inform and reflect young audiences’ experiences of growing up across the UK today, driving plurality in the sector by stimulating public service broadcasters to invest into this content for young audiences.

Since the Fund launched in April 2019, it has been embraced by the UK production community, with over 120 applications and counting. Enthusiasm from producers and broadcasters alike has led to greenlighting these initial nine shows, and signals a very positive start to the three-year pilot.

The slate is successfully responding to the areas of concern outlined by Ofcom’s Children’s Content Review, with the majority of awards going to programmes specifically made for older children, content to help young people understand the world around them and a chance to see their UK children’s lives, in all its diversity, reflected on screen.

To find out more about the Young Audiences Content Fund, please visit: