BBC Sounds joins Spotify's Megaphone and unveils new podcast commissions and returning hits
BBC Sounds continues to champion the growing UK podcast sector as it joins Spotify’s Megaphone, an industry leading podcast publishing and monetisation platform.
With Megaphone’s technology, we will be able to dynamically recommend relevant content to audiences on other podcast platforms in the UK, helping listeners discover more brilliant audio they’ll love from across the BBC, wherever they listen. Thanks to this new approach, we will transform the way we highlight BBC programmes on other podcast platforms, demonstrating our commitment to the growing podcast listenership in the UK.
Podcasting icon Jon Ronson announces the return of the phenomenally popular and acclaimed BBC Radio 4 podcast Things Fell Apart for a second series in 2024, and the long awaited Chapter Four of George The Poet’s groundbreaking Peabody Award winning Have You Have You Heard George’s Podcast? launches this autumn.
Plus details of a raft of exciting new commissions from across the BBC networks are also revealed including The Good, The Bad and The Wealthy with Zing Tsjeng and Simon Jack, The Gatekeepers with Jamie Bartlett, Danny Robins’ Haunting History, Child with India Rakusen and more.
Following an ARIA Gold award for Best New Podcast forged from the inaugural Audio Lab accelerator programme, BBC Sounds is thrilled to announce our five new creators for 2023 and for the first time, two independent production teams – Mags Creative and Three Arrows Media – who will partner with us and help turn the creators’ ideas into a series of brilliant new podcasts for the platform.
As listening habits continue to change and audiences are increasingly listening to the BBC’s audio content on-demand, BBC Sounds continues to evolve as we explore a range of successful tactics to grow the platform and connecting people to the music, radio and podcasts they love, anytime, anywhere.
Jonathan Wall, Director BBC Sounds said: “We are delighted that our partnership with Megaphone by Spotify will transform the way we can signpost new and returning BBC podcasts. And Audio Lab is a new talent scheme the whole of BBC radio are proud of. We look forward to showcasing all this and more at the 2023 Podcast Show.”
Mohit Bakaya, Director Speech Audio and Controller BBC Radio 4 and 4extra said: “Today we’re announcing a raft of exciting new titles which showcase the brilliant journalism, storytelling and talent you’d expect from the BBC.
I’m delighted that both Jon Ronson and George the Poet will be returning to bring their unique style of podcasting. I am also really pleased to announce the launch of Child - a major new project telling the story of child development, from conception onwards, presented by the brilliant India Rakusen - the brains behind the groundbreaking “28-ish Days Later”.
BBC Sounds Audio Lab
Following ARIA Gold award win by Tommy Dixon for Colouring In Britain for Best New Podcast, BBC Sounds names a new group of creators being fast-tracked to transform their ideas into world class podcasts with Audio Lab at The Podcast Show.
Chosen from hundreds of applicants, five fresh talents will be immersed in a unique accelerator programme backed by a comprehensive package of practical and professional training while embedded with one of Audio Lab’s five production partners located across the UK.
After a competitive tender process, two independent producers join BBC Scotland Production in Glasgow, BBC Long Form Audio in Salford and BBC Audio Pop & Speech podcasts in London to lead on development and production for each creator. Founded by sisters Hannah and Faith Russell in 2018, Mags Creative now boasts a team of 20 and produces critically acclaimed lifestyle; climate and branded audio. Manchester based indie Three Arrows Media was co-founded in 2015 by BAFTA-winning executive Jon Hancock and creates video and audio content for multiple platforms in Children’s, Education and Factual.
From exploring collective ownership, to the impact of the Stanlow Oil Refinery and the West African talking drum instrument, BBC sounds Audio Lab returns with unheard experiences and untold stories from a range of diverse new voices.
Khaliq Meer said:
“This time last year I said I couldn’t wait to hear what our first year Creators would do and they didn’t disappoint one bit. For Tommy Dixon to go on and win the ARIA Gold award for Best New Podcast at the UK’s biggest audio awards is a fantastic endorsement of his vision and the creative innovation of Colouring in Britain. Huge congratulations to Tommy and all our first-year trailblazers.
I’m also thrilled we’re back with a new Audio Lab programme doing even more to amplify and nurture new grassroots talent. Plus, we’re working with more BBC teams across the UK as well as awarding first-time BBC podcast production commissions to two indies so we can support more growth and stronger collaboration in the audio sector. I’m super excited about what’s to come!”
BBC Sounds Audio Lab year two creators:
May Robson (BBC Scotland Productions)
The Commons (w/t) meets people embracing ‘collective ownership’ - taking personal responsibility to improve their lives, including Liverpudlians transforming abandoned streets into desirable living; Londoners turning their old pub into a Queer safe space; and a Glaswegian pawn shop inventing its own ‘community currency’.
George Powell (Long Form Audio, BBC News - Salford)
This Field Remains (w/t) explores the impact of Stanlow Oil Refinery at Ellesmere Port on the Wirral. Was it an essential local lifeline or simply a failed industrial project?
Taqwa Sadiq (BBC Audio Speech & Music Podcasts – London)
Sacred Money (w/t) explores the concept of ‘Zakat’ – obliging Muslims everywhere to donate a percentage of earnings to charity. With nearly all UK Zakat money going to overseas causes ‘back home’, is it time to rethink and redirect those donations to benefit the ‘now home’ of Great Britain?
Anouska Lewis (Mags Creative - London)
Hometown Boring? (w/t) spotlights towns and cities considered unattractive or branded “rubbish” and “boring”. Is that really true and will delving into their recent histories reveal something different? It’s time to hear if Luton and Hull deserve to be held in as much esteem as London and Edinburgh.
Seun Matiluko (Three Arrows Media – Salford)
Talking Drum (w/t) pays homage to the much-loved West African instrument used to accompany and share stories, by soundtracking the lives; legacies and experiences of Africans in Britain today.
New podcast commissions
From a landmark documentary about the development of a child, to the conspiracy theories about Avril Lavigne, a range of distinctive new podcasts will be announced at the Podcast Show today.
With more people than ever listening to podcasts, the format is opening up new approaches to journalism and narrative storytelling, bringing the BBC’s unparalleled investigations and brilliant new voices to a wider audience.
A new 26 episode landmark series from the team behind 28ish Days Later. The podcast will follow the incredible journey from conception through to the first year of life, with a special focus on the moment of birth itself. Presenter India Rakusen will explore what’s going on internally and externally, with an immersive and very real examination of the subject and the many social, political, cultural, and personal factors around it. Commissioned by Rhian Roberts, Child is a Listen production for BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4.
The Good the Bad and the Wealthy (w/t)
The BBC’s business editor Simon Jack and journalist Zing Tsjeng unpick the journey to the top for some of the 2640 billionaires on the planet. From household names to secretive figures with incredible power, they tell the story of how they made their money, what drove them and what held them back, from the very start to the very top. From the nefarious to the inspirational, the driven, the ruthless and the lucky, these stories paint a wider picture of business, entrepreneurship, capitalism and how our world really works. The Good, The Bad and The Wealthy is a BBC Audio production for BBC Radio 5 Live.
From the team behind hit podcasts The Battersea Poltergeist, The Witch Farm and Uncanny – which is making the leap to television with a series commissioned for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer later this year – Haunting History will delve into the greatest and scariest stories of the paranormal. Danny Robins will explore Borley Rectory, the most haunted house in England; The Black Monk of Pontefract, Britain’s most notorious poltergeist case; cursed pagan artefacts the Hexham Heads, and London’s most haunted address, 50 Berkeley Square. We’ll hear tales of haunted castles, black dogs, witches and phantom nuns from Danny, sound tracked by an original music score and terrifying sound design. Commissioned by Rhian Roberts, Haunting History is a Bafflegab production for BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4.
Jamie Bartlett travels into the heart of Silicon Valley to tell the story of who decides what we see online – and how it has become the biggest battleground of modern times. In the beginning, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs had a dream: through their social media platforms they would democratise communication for all, so power would reside in the hands of the people. But what happened next was quite different. Today, everyone’s life is shaped by what they see online. And who controls information now controls the world. Commissioned by Daniel Clarke, The Gatekeepers is a BBC Audio Scotland production for BBC Radio 4.
Go Figure (w/t)
This new series hosted by Hannah Fry brings together the power of numbers and the power of storytelling, telling the tales of remarkable people who have used data to uncover hidden insights, challenging assumptions and revealing the world afresh. Commissioned by Daniel Clarke, Go Figure is a BBC Audio Science production for BBC Radio 4.
Who Killed Avril Lavigne?
It only takes a few clicks online to find the story - an online rumour that Avril Lavigne has been replaced by a body double for most of her career, after tragically suffering an early death. And the more you read, the more compelling and detailed the story becomes. Comedian and presenter Joanne McNally is obsessed with conspiracies, and wants to know where they start, and how they spread. Most of all though - she wants to know if this one is true. Commissioned by Lou Kattenhorn, Who Killed Avril Lavigne? is a What’s The Story Sounds production for BBC Radio 5 Live.
Call Jonathan Pie
Angry news reporter Jonathan Pie is known for his hugely popular online rants, which satirise the world of politics. In his first podcast series on BBC Sounds he’ll be confronted with the views of the general public as he takes to the airwaves for a brand-new late-night phone-in show. Listeners will hear what goes on behind the scenes as Pie clashes with his production team, as well as plenty of his trademark rants – this time, taking aim at everything from ‘women’s issues’ to cancel culture, the NHS, identity politics and the BBC itself. Commissioned by Julia McKenzie, Call Jonathan Pie is A Yada Yada production for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.
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