BBC ALBA Summer Commissioning Round – 2021

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BBC ALBA Summer Commissioning Round – 2021

Below you can find out more about the BBC ALBA Summer Commissioning Round – 2021.


BBC ALBA is a contemporary, forward-looking channel with Gaelic at its heart: our people, our culture, our voice. Our outlook is broad, and our ambitions are big. We have a unique perspective and want to tell stories that resonate with audiences across Scotland and the world.

BBC ALBA is proud of the creative partnerships we have developed over the years. We look forward to building more of these, continuing to create popular and critical impact with award-winning, world-class content.

It’s important to us that the stories we tell and the people who bring them to the screen reflect the lives of our audiences in all their diversity.

We want to harness your creative energy and technical innovation to offer compelling, authentic contemporary Gaelic content for our audiences.  Proposals which have other funding attached or have the potential to attract other funding are welcome.

Submission dates

This round deals with two elements which have separate submission dates.


HOGMANAY CEILIDH 2021 and 2022

  • Deadline for ideas – Thursday 27th May 2021, 1pm.
  • Deadline for decisions – Friday 4th June 2021, 5pm.



  • Deadline for ideas – Friday 11th June 2021, 1pm.
  • Deadline for decisions – Wednesday 30th June 2021, 5pm.


Final submissions and any questions on anything contained in this Summer Commissioning Round – 2021 should be addressed to Claire MacDonald :-

Festive / Spring schedule priorities

As we continue to make our way in this new Covid-influenced landscape we celebrate the successes and are inspired by the innovative approaches and the adaptability of our production community.    The audience appetite for bold, entertaining and inspiring content remains undiminished.

We want to see ideas which bring strong, compelling stories to the screen,  and speak to audiences in Scotland and beyond, with particular reference to the Festive period.  We know that this time of year offers a special opportunity to capture the audience’s attention and imagination with a wide variety of content.    We welcome ideas which take into account the challenges and opportunities which the new production environment presents, but know from our experience of the last year that these  can be a creative enabler rather than limit ambition.  BBC ALBA is eager to see proposals  which have the potential to create substantial impact and win awards,  and we  will work hard with you to deliver on that ambition.


Stories with strong personalities at their heart which illustrate and illuminate aspects of Scottish life and history,  and which would be enhanced by being told in documentary or feature length formats. Recent examples include Tearlach Ceannadach, A Good Man Speaking; Dystonia: Beatha air Fhiaradh; NY2SY; Lipoedema: Sgeulachd Lorna

Stories which entertain and inform, reflecting our lives and recognising the breadth of the Gaelic experience having particular appeal to the Gaelic-speaking community,  as well as popular, cross-generational appeal.  We want to see proposals which can bring people together through shared experience and which expand our horizons. We have a particular interest in 60min proposals, as a stand-alone or a short series,  however we are open to other durations.   Recent examples include Cearcaill Ceò; Ceòl na Loidhne; Cinema Gaedelica; Mach a Seo: Na Fir Chlis

Guidance notes for submissions to BBC ALBA

It might be helpful to consider the following when preparing your submission:-

  • What is your ambition for this project?
  • Who is it for?
  • How will you tell this story in the new production environment?
  • How will it play in the schedule 6 or 12 months from now?
  • Does this proposal reflect real, lived experience? Does it feel authentic and relatable?
  • Does it reflect the diversity of all of our communities?
  • Is it innovative? What’s new about it whether in terms of the story, style, format, content, talent or use of technology?
  • Is it a compelling story? Will it engage people’s emotions, provoke discussion and is there enough substance in it to sustain a whole programme?
  • Will it take the audience to places and situations which they might not otherwise encounter?
  • How will the story work on other digital platforms as well as television?
  • Is the proposed duration, talent and format the best fit for the target audience and the story?
  • How will it enhance the BBC ALBA offer?
  • Does it have co-financing potential either in the UK or internationally and have you explored these?


  • Include a brief creative summary, details of key talent behind and in front of camera, programme price and also detail digital media opportunities including how, if appropriate, different forms could be used for different digital platforms. They should not exceed one A4 page per programme.
  • Show that you have thought about how the programme can be promoted, be that through the press, social-media or other broadcast outlets.
  • We’re happy to receive programme tasters but they are not essential. The opportunity to develop your submitted proposal through an interview may be given.
  • Priority will be given to ideas that take into consideration further funding such as, but not limited to:

Co-production ideas seeking lead funding from the MG ALBA/BBC partnership should apply for funding through these seasonal commissioning rounds.  Co-production ideas with external lead funding are acceptable at any time and the MG ALBA/BBC partnership will endeavour to return commissioning decisions on them without undue delay.


  • Deadline for ideas – Friday 11th June 2021, 1pm.
  • Deadline for decisions – Wednesday 30th June 2021, 5pm.

Hogmanay Ceilidh 2021 and 2022

BBC ALBA’s Ceilidh na Bliadhn’ Uire has become an established audience appointment to view. Rooted in Gaelic culture and musical traditions but embracing the wider Scottish experience, the ceilidh is an annual celebration highly appreciated by BBC ALBA audiences at home and abroad. Now, perhaps more than ever, in a time of change and uncertainty the traditions of welcoming in a New Year provide a moment to pause, reflect, share, connect and celebrate.  While the realities of life in a pandemic has changed its look, the essence remains: good music, good company, warmth and wit.

In normal times the ceilidh is at its best when hosted in a Gaelic-speaking community in a rural or urban setting. The most recent locations include Glasgow, Isle of Skye, Stirling and Perthshire. However the audience response to the 2020 programme demonstrates that large, in-person gatherings are not necessarily essential to its success.  The ceilidh may also be broadcast on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal and to a worldwide audience online.

Proposals for a live 2 hour ceilidh to celebrate Hogmanay both in 2021 and 2022 are now invited.

Proposals for 2021 should be detailed and should demonstrate an ability to respond to a changing production environment.

Proposals for 2022 should presume that a more normal production environment will be in place in terms of in person gatherings and travel.

Funding and locations

Funding of up to a maximum of £500,000 over two years is available to the programmes. Proposals must demonstrate the added value and budget flexibility to be gained from a two-year contract period.   Locations in Gaelic-speaking communities are paramount. Locations on mainland Scotland will be considered but we would like over the two-year period for the production to be based, on one of the occasions, in the Western Isles.

Please note that we do not expect the budget to necessarily be split equally between the programmes.

How to submit

Please include:-

  • a creative summary detailing how the production company will develop and deliver popular, inclusive Hogmanay ceilidhs over the two-year period.
  • details of key talent behind and in front of camera;
  • details of key onscreen musical talent;
  • details of musical director;
  • locations as per geographical requirements outlined above;
  • detail of production company’s live broadcast experience in the entertainment genre;
  • technical specifications including proposed O/B provider, number of cameras;
  • a detailed budget

The opportunity to develop these submissions may be given through interviews with applicants.



  • Deadline for ideas – Thursday 27th May 2021, 1pm.
  • Deadline for decisions – Friday 4th June 2021, 5pm.


Final submissions and any questions on anything contained in this Summer  Commissioning Round – 2021 should be addressed to Claire MacDonald :-