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BBC attempts to reach out to 12-15 year olds

The BBC is making another attempt at plugging the age gap between its children's channels and the rest of its output.

It has unveiled brand new programmes for 12-15-year-olds, to be made available on the BBC iPlayer, which it says will "reflect the highs and lows of their lives in the UK today."

The new content, which will air exclusively as box sets on BBC iPlayer from 10th February, will feature established presenters such as Stacey Dooley alongside prominent YouTube stars like Ali A and Mimi Missfit.

The Nine to Five with Stacey Dooley follows five 16-18 year olds as they experience the rigours of the workplace for the first time. For some it is a complete shock to the system while, for others, it’s a chance to learn some new skills and discover what direction they want their lives to take.

Teen Taxi
shines a humorous and engaging light on the daily conversations teenagers and their parents have on life, love, friendships as the engaging teens open up during every day trips in the family cars.

I’m Not Driving That! With Ali-A sees vlogger and petrol head, Ali-A, transforming young drivers' first cars in return for them improving their skills behind the wheel. But what will the young drivers think when they see their revamped rides? The programme also features a host of celebrity clients dropping into the workshop to pick up their own, newly-customised motors.

Documentary series This is My Life showcases two films focusing on the challenges young people face as they move into adulthood. This is My Life: Leaving Care follows Arron and Sulaimaan as they move from a life in care to living on their own and navigating a series of important first time life challenges.

This is My Life: Boys to Men tells the story of three promising teens, Reuben, Leon and Micha. As members of The Manhood Academy - a community based programme that provides mentorship and empowers young men who lack positive male role models - they are all striving to overcome the challenges and dangers around them.

Mini series, Dr Chris and Dr Xand Investigate, uncovers the science behind mental health issues as well as exploring the impact that alcohol can have. In the mental health special, they explore the common triggers for mental health issues and four young people, including Jordan Stephens from music duo Rizzle Kicks, share their personal experiences. In the episode on alcohol, the doctors take a look at why alcohol can be dangerous with Dr Xand having one drink too many while Dr Chris performs a revealing range of medical tests on him.

The BBC has had a poor time reaching the 12-15 age group in recent years. In 2006/7 CBBC's remit was changed, so that it would only target up to 12 year olds, in a move that aided the decline of series that originally targeted older children such as Grange Hill. In 2008, the BBC launched BBC Switch to reach the age group, but it failed to gain much traction as was one of the early victims of budget cuts. Last year, it was reported that more children watch Netflix than the BBC.

BBC Three - which targets 16-34 year olds - was transferred online in 2016. In October, Ofcom research indicated only 8% of viewers in the target group actually watched BBC Three Online, despite Killing Eve, broadcast under the BBC Three banner, coming 2nd in the top 10 iPlayer shows of 2018.

Cheryl Taylor, Head of Content for BBC Children’s admitted:
It is widely acknowledged that 12-15 year olds can be a difficult audience to reach. We feel that there should be more public service content specifically for this age group. This new content bridges the small gap between the top end of CBBC and all the amazing content for 16-34s on BBC Three. We are offering a small but carefully chosen slate of programmes on BBC iPlayer which reflect 12-15s specifically and which adds to the broad appeal content they already love elsewhere on the BBC like Strictly, Would I Lie to You and The Apprentice.