EXCLUSIVE: Move over Strictly Come Dancing, there’s a younger, cooler kid in town. The BBC is developing its latest Saturday night entertainment format, a dance competition from Tim Hincks’ and Peter Fincham’s Expectation.
I hear the indie, which the former Endemol Group President and ITV Director of Television established in 2016, is working on Drop The Beat for primetime BBC1. The production company, which is backed by BBC Worldwide, is currently piloting the project and finalizing a “proof of concept” for the British public broadcaster. Full details of the format are being kept under wraps, but I’m told it’s an edgier dance competition designed to appeal to young audiences and families.
If successful, Drop The Beat would be the biggest commission to date for Expectation. The firm’s first piece of business was to produce programming around Sky’s charity soccer match, Game For Grenfell, and it is making three-part travelogue Ed Balls: My Deep South Road Trip (w/t), following the former British politician around the U.S. to interview individuals who voted for Donald Trump, for BBC2. Hincks and Fincham’s interest in the U.S. has continued and it just delivered Dale Winton’s Florida Fly Drive to Channel 5, the Supermarket Sweep’s presenters first TV project in a number of years.
The BBC could do with a new primetime Saturday night entertainment format. Strictly, which is known as Dancing with the Stars in the U.S. and around the world, remains its biggest bet and the format launched in 2004. Its latest effort is Remarkable’s All Together Now, which features 100 contestants joining in with an amateur artist. The Geri Horner and Rob Beckett-fronted show has performed steadily, with its opening episode scoring over 3.5M overnight viewers. This was up on the BBC’s previous effort, Wedding Day Winners, from Panda TV, run by former Voice UK showrunner Moira Ross, but couldn’t quite match Gary Barlow-fronted Let It Shine, which launched last year.
Drop The Beat is the latest entertainment pilot trialled by the BBC. It’s thought that the BBC has filmed a pilot called The Greatest Dancer, created by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, featuring Girls Aloud star Cheryl Tweedy. Last autumn, Whizz Kid Entertainment, which produces the UK version of Lip Sync Battle, made a singing-based gameshow pilot for the broadcaster that pitched a series of singers against each other with one winner in each episode.
The drive is being led by BBC Entertainment Controller Kate Phillips, who revealed at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in August that she had 50 shows in paid development. At the festival, she admitted that it was tough to launch new shows against the likes of The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK.
BBC Director of Content Charlotte Moore told me last year that there were still “huge opportunities” in entertainment and called for producers to pitch “brave” ideas. “Shows like Strictly feel quintessentially BBC but we’ve got further to go in finding the next big hits,” she said. “Our job is to reinvent the BBC for a new generation, so clearly we want to stand out in all genres for doing something distinctively BBC.”