The 45th annual BBC Studios Showcase is going virtual in 2021.
The production-distribution giant revealed that its annual Liverpool event — a dazzling presentation of the BBC’s forthcoming productions for global buyers — will become a three-day virtual program, running from Feb. 22-24. The move has been expected in recent months, as it’s becoming increasingly clear that travel to the U.K. remains volatile, with two-week quarantines still mandatory for a host of countries.
Around 600-700 buyers from around the world descend on Liverpool annually for Showcase, but this year, around 20 key buyers from China — 40 executives in all — didn’t make the trip due to the COVID-19 crisis. The 2021 digital edition is a smart move by BBC Studios to ensure its international client base, a good number of whom have likely been impacted by travel restrictions, has equal access to its content offerings.
Paul Dempsey, president of global distribution for BBC Studios, said, “It’s simply not fair to ask our clients and partners to travel during these uncertain times so we are going to pull out all the stops to give them the full Showcase experience from the comfort of their home locations. BBC Studios Showcase is known for the scale of its ambition and the skill of its execution so you can imagine the fun we’re going to have reimagining this market as a virtual event. You will not want to miss it.”
The exclusive, invitation-only event will feature sessions with program makers and commissioners, as well as production panels and screenings of footage and full-length screenings.
Among the new shows premiering at the virtual Showcase is “This is Going to Hurt,” Adam Kay’s own adaptation of his eponymous international best-selling memoir, starring Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”) and produced by “Chernobyl” producer Sister, in association with Terrible Productions.
Also debuting at Showcase is “The Green Planet” from BBC Studios Natural History Unit. The landmark natural history series has been described as “Planet Earth” from the perspective of plants.
Further details will be announced in the forthcoming months.
Back in July, BBC Studios took the decision to skip a physical presence at this October’s MIPCOM market in Cannes — one of the TV industry’s biggest confabs — along with a number of super-indies, including ITV Studios, Banijay Group, and Fremantle. The business said at the time that it would be “fully supporting the event through digital delivery.”
ITV Studios was first out the gate with plans for a digital TV festival of its own, which kicks off later this month. The event is similar to its February TV festival, which is part of the U.K. Screenings event that has grown out of the BBC Studios Showcase.
Indeed, U.K. Screenings — the week of events held by distributors in London for global buyers who travel down to the capital after the Showcase event in Liverpool — could be imperilled by BBC Studios going entirely digital. A likely scenario will be that distributors hold smaller events with a largely European crowd.