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Best of BBC3

If you always watch TV shows on demand, you might not notice that BBC3 has switched from digital TV to online only. The 300,000 people who signed a petition to keep the channel on TV will presumably miss their late-night Family Guy binges, as many of the American series shown on BBC3 have moved to different channels. But BBC3 continues to produce original content aimed at a young, socially conscious and politically active audience. BBC3 is available to watch 24/7 here, but you can find some of the best shows that made their debut on this ground-breaking channel in the Information Store:


BBC3 might be remembered as a “guilty pleasure” channel, but for every show like Snog, Marry, Avoid?, Don’t Tell the Bride and I Believe in UFOs with Danny Dyer, the channel commissioned documentaries that impressed critics well outside their target age-range. Blood, Sweat and T-shirts (BOOK ZONE 746.92) launched the career of presenter Stacey Dooley. She travelled to India as part of a group of young “fashion consumers” who, after working in the multi-million pound high fashion industry, were sent to work in a low-cost fashion sweatshop, earning just £1.50 a day. She brought a camera crew to Thailand to highlight the pitfalls of the British tourist trade in Tourism and the Truth (BOOK ZONE 338.4791676) and filmed the charities that work with trafficked children in Cambodia and child soldiers in the DRC. She returned to her home town of Luton to make the controversial documentary My Hometown Fanatics. Stacey was accused of showing sympathy for the then-leader of the English Defence League, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, with whom she had grown up- before he founded the extreme right-wing group, Stephen was known in Luton as the owner of a chain of tanning salons! She also clashed with Muslim women during a protest against the police. Similar programs were later aired on Channel 4, and Luton was referred to in the media as a “hotbed of extremism” (a claim that was strongly refuted by Muslim and non-Muslim residents). Stacey’s recent documentary on religious attitudes towards sex is one of the most watched shows on the BBC3 iPlayer- see where she is headed next on Twitter.


The Craftivist Collective make mini banners each year to highlight the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign

From the outset, BBC3 championed young British talent, but it wasn’t just first-time screenwriters and actors who found fame on the digital channel. From 2009-2011 their Young Talent of the Year series showcased the next generation of professionals working in industries from farming, baking, tailoring and plumbing to gardening, carpentry, butchery and mechanics. The Young Hairdresser of the Year competition, organised by Hairdresser’s Journal International, was televised for two years running. Male winner Dylan Jack McConnachie, who used models with very long, fine hair to mimic C17th pirate ships, now works at a salon in London, while Leah Walton has joined the ghd art team, covering events like London Fashion Week. The live finals, where stylists compete to impress a panel of judges, are available to borrow from the BOOK ZONE 646.724. You can find copies of Hairdresser’s Journal in the Information Store at Ipswich Road- follow the link above or ask staff to help you access articles online.


Elaborate hair styles like those designed by finalists are as much a part of London Fashion Week as the clothes themselves.


When Doctor Who relaunched in 2005, some fans of the original series complained that it was no longer frightening. They may have simply gotten past the age of being scared by wobbly cardboard villains, but the show’s airtime- 7pm on a Sunday night- marked it as the kind of show a family could choose to watch together. In 2006, the spin-off series Torchwood premiered on BBC3 at 9pm. It quickly gained a reputation as an ‘adult’ show- lead character Capt Jack Harkness, who first appeared in an episode of Doctor Who, was shown having sex with men, women and aliens of indeterminable gender. The series was filmed on location in Cardiff, and featured a predominantly Welsh cast (in Doctor Who, Cardiff regularly stands in for London). Tourism to the city increased as fans built shrines to characters on Mermaid Quay and Roald Dahl Plass. The five-part series Children of Earth played out in real time, as the Torchwood office tried to stop the Government from handing children over to an advanced alien race. The villainous Home Secretary, who orders the assassination of Capt Jack, is played current Doctor Peter Capaldi. Find Children of Earth in the DVD LOBBY 791.456.


Torchwood’s Capt Jack Harkness is filmed on location in Cardiff Bay


Only BBC3 could contain the madness that is The Mighty Boosh. Straightlaced jazz enthusiast Howard Moon and narcissistic goth Vince Noir go on a journey through time and space by way of a zoo, a London flat and a second-hand shop in a series which featured cameos from bands like the Horrors and Robots in Disguise. Creepy characters like Old Gregg, The Hitcher and The Moon (all played by Noel Fielding by low-budget costumes) appear alongside British comedy greats like Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry and Victoria Wicks. Minor roles are filled in by Noel’s mum and dad, prompting producer Spencer Millman to claim “It’s not really acting- (it’s) just them with some make-up and some clothes on!” This doesn’t diminish the quality of writing, which is deeply surreal and funny at once. Each episode features at least one rap/song/poem (known as a Crimp) on topics like soup, eels, llamas and the arctic tundra. All three series of The Mighty Boosh are available to borrow from the DVD LOBBY 791.453617- you could also check out Submarine by Richard Ayoade (BOOK ZONE 823.92 DUN)


One of Noel Fielding’s iconic characters is created with nothing more than a black backdrop and some shaving cream.



craftivist collective London Fashion Week AW 2012 Somerset House accessed at https://flic.kr/p/db2qsy on 10/03/2016

Farrukh London Fashion Week SS13 accessed at https://flic.kr/p/dceWTM on 10/03/2016

Stuart-Lee Torchwood accessed at https://flic.kr/p/5oECqg on 10/03/2016

Mann, K When You Are The Moon accessed at https://flic.kr/p/b4Kz7 on 10/03/2016



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