BBC Moves Into Virtual Reality Future With Property Format ‘Watch This Space’


EXCLUSIVE: The UK has a long history of producing hit property shows such as Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs and Phil and Kirstie’s Location, Location, Location. The BBC is now moving into the virtual reality-led future with its latest format in the genre.

I understand that the British public broadcaster has ordered Watch This Space from Endemol Shine’s Remarkable Television. For the first time on British television, cutting edge VR technology and visual effects will be used in a property format, transforming ordinary homes with unique designs.

Hosted by Robot Wars’ Angela Scanlon, the eight-part series, which will air on BBC Two, will see two couples who disagree about the best designs for their home work with architects Laura Clark and Robert Jamison. The pair will produce two conflicting briefs and then the homeowners will be able to “step into” the redesigned properties using the VR tech. Through the use of photo-real visual effects, entire structures including walls and ceilings will be transformed and the couples then have to decide which plans to take on and build themselves.

The landmark format is one of the first times that VR technology has been built into the DNA of an unscripted format. Watch This Space was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and David Brindley, Head of Commissioning for BBC Popular Factual and Factual Entertainment. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Michael Jochnowitz. It is executive produced by Joff Wilson for Remarkable Television.

Scanlon said, “Watch This Space will ingeniously use virtual reality, so couples can try out new designs without lifting a rusty hammer or spending a single penny. I’ve lost weeks of my life trawling property websites and lingering too long outside the shiny windows of estate agents, so I am absolutely delighted to be involved in this ground-breaking series and to see technology being used in this way for the first time on a British property show. It’s all about improving rather than moving right now and helping homeowners create their dream homes is just magic.”

Endemol Shine’s Remarkable has some history in the property space; the company previously produced Restoration Home, which saw Men Behaving Badly star Caroline Quentin host ambitious restoration projects for rundown properties and The £100k House: Tricks of the Trade, which featured first-time builders and architects with ideas about constructing homes on a budget.

The producer, which is also responsible for hit quiz show Pointless and Saturday night entertainment series All Together Now, which is being lined up for a celebrity version, is currently in production with the series. Kitty Walshe, joint Managing Director of Remarkable Television, said “We are really excited about this original property format which is no average home build show. We are taking ordinary homes and offering extraordinary transformations based on the homeowners own budgets and we are using technology in a way that has never been seen on British television before. We have brilliant on-screen experts in architects Robert Jamison and Laura Clark, who we are delighted to be bringing to BBC Two and we are also looking forward to working with Angela Scanlon.”

The BBC is increasingly focusing on virtual reality. It is airing live virtual reality views of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia for 33 matches via a dedicated app. The service, which is available iOS and Android devices, as well as the Gear VR, Oculus Go and PlayStation VR headsets takes into account viewers’ head movements and allows users to switch locations to get a view from a luxury private box or behind either goal.

Last week, it partnered with European VR studio Atlas V on Untold Story, a virtual reality documentary series that sees well known directors explore passion projects that never got made.

Last July, it launched a BBC Taster VR app, featuring experiences from shows such as Planet Earth II and gun crime doc One Deadly Weekend In America.

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