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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Bye Bye, BBC Three



When it was launched in 2003, BBC Three’s remit was “to bring younger audiences (16-34) high quality public service broadcasting through a mixed-genre schedule of innovative UK content featuring new UK talent.”

Nearly thirteen years on and the BBC will be pulling the plug on the young station, slashing its budget by 50% and moving all of its short form content online. Why you ask? Funding, it seems. The decision is not a popular one, with many well known personalities speaking out against the move including Daniel Radcliffe, Matt Lucas and Jack Whitehall. There was a campaign to “Save BBC Three” and even a poll conduced by ICM found that a large majority of people are against the move. I for one am in agreement. Where else am I going to get my share of uninterrupted nightly Family Guy and American Dad doubles? Sure I can get them online but sometimes you just want something just to be on the telly after you come home from work, like a televisual comfort blanket .I’m genuinely going to miss it. Let’s hope they don’t axe BBC Four! Where else am I going to get my highbrow prog rock documentaries and foreign language dramas?

So on the 16th of February raise your glass for BBC Three and let Geek Pride take you back and look at some of the best shows the channel has produced.

Monkey Dust

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One of the original shows for this new channel, Monkey Dust was a sketch show with a variety of animators sharing their vision of a dystopic, Blairite era, Cruel Britannia. Laden with memorable characters (notable mentions to Ivan Dobsky the meatsafe murderer, The Peadofinder General and Clive the Liar), some extremely dark humour, and accompanied by an amazing down-tempo soundtrack, Monkey Dust was perfect for the BBC Three audience looking for something a bit more edgier than Channel 4 (which by then lost all its street kudos by constantly showing Big Brother)

AD/BC A Rock Opera


The greatest story never told …in rock!!!! AD/BC was a one off gem of a comedy written by all-round legend Matt Berry and stars many familiar faces including Julian Barrett, Richard Ayoade, Noel Fielding, Rich Fulcher, Matt Lucas and Graham Linehan. This is a pitch perfect parody of the campy 70’s rock musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell which tells the story of the innkeeper of the nativity fame. The tunes are surprisingly memorable; all penned by Berry himself. In fact you should really check out his solo albums, they’re really good. But I digress. Chances are you didn’t catch it the first time round back in 2004 but never fear! That’s what YouTube is for. I’m hoping this becomes a cult Christmas classic up there with It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard.

Snuff Box


Sticking with Matt Berry, this one series comedy created in partnership with Rich Fulcher was very far out. Berry plays the official hangman to the King of England along with Fulcher as his assistant. Snuff Box blended dark, avant-garde humour with a main plot line interlaced with some very surreal stand alone sketches, some of which have gathered a cult following on YouTube.

Little Britain


Little Britain was the show that made Matt Lucas and David Walliams household names. Their mix of bawdy pantomime-like sketches pushed the boundaries of both humour and taste. So popular that it even got it’s own American spin off and is syndicated on the mainstream Beeb. Love it or loathe it, we all can’t say it hasn’t made an impact with many of the shows catchphrases entering the English comedy vernacular.

Gavin and Stacey

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BBC Three was also the launch pad for Ruth Jones, James Corden and Matthew Horne’s story of cross-country love between a Welsh girl and an Essex boy. The show captured the hearts of the nation and became an audience and critical favourite winning manys a BAFTA.

My Murder/Murdered by my Boyfriend

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BBC Three wasn’t all fun and comedy; the channel was known for producing some quality ground breaking documentaries and dramas that focused on pressing current issues with todays youth. Murdered by my Boyfriend was a critical success in highlighting the issue of domestic violence for young women garnering its leading lady Georgina Campbell a BAFTA for her performance. My Murder focused on the true story of London gangs and their tragic consequences and starred a then unknown actor named John Boyega.

The Mighty Boosh

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Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett headed up this wacky surrealist comedy vehicle which could only have a home on BBC Three. Following Howard Moon, Vince Noir and their friends appearing in different contexts in each season. A continuation from their stage roots, Mighty Boosh has a fervent cult following which remains to this day.

Don’t Tell the Bride


Chewing gum telly at its best. Find a young couple who are getting married, give the fella a budget, three weeks and lets see what mess he makes of it. Laughs a plenty in this reality TV show that was always worth a watch when you were flicking through the stations.

Snog, Marry, Avoid


More chewing gum TV, this is one me and my sister would watch. The fashion police are out in force with POD, the snarky robot that’ll turn you from fashion disaster to catwalk king! A guilty pleasure I must admit.

The Revolution Will be Televised


I always thought this programme had balls! A politics show for the Wikileaks generation. Hosts Jolyon Rubenstein and Heydon Prowse were never afraid to take the big issues head on whether it was turning up on the steps of MI6 with a mobile rave, gate crashing the Tory party conference or door stepping some very powerful politicians. A show that told it like it was and had the facts to back it up, this was the stuff BBC Three was made for.

Summer Heights High

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Although not a BBC original per say, Summer Heights High was Ozzie comedy gold! Chris Lilly flawlessly embodied the three extremely believable characters of islander teenager Jonah, rich bitch J’aime and camp drama teacher Mr G for this spoof fly on the wall documentary. If you haven’t seen any of his shows then what the bloody hell are you waiting for? Go watch them.


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Whovians rejoice! Once the show came back to the screens in 2005 it paved the way for the Russel T Davis spin off. Torchwood (an anagram of Doctor Who don’t you know!) followed the story of our favourite immortal Captain Jack Harkness and his alien hunting team in Cardiff. A favourite amongst the Dr Who fan faithful, Torchwood eventually found it’s way onto mainstream BBC TV where it enjoyed 41 episodes.

What were your favourite BBC Three shows? Let us know in the comments.

Follow the author on Twitter @hughesms

Mark lives in Belfast where he runs a ukulele club, plays board games and watches old TV shows. His interests include Cold War architecture, trawling for vintage toys on eBay and reading Starship schematics on Memory Alpha. He was a finalist on the UK version of King of the Nerds.

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