BBC Three has been since its inception a youth-oriented channel. It’s the reason it left the TV to become an online-only presence. But on iPlayer, it’s just as easy to catch up as anything else you’d find on the BBC.
Even if you’re a bit outside the age range of the kind of viewer the BBC was picturing, don’t write off the shows made under the Three banner. It’s often very topical and relevant to the current social climate, and as emotionally expressive as you’d imagine from a generation used to talking about controversial and important topics openly on social networks.
Some parts of it even make it to other BBC channels (like Stacey Dooley’s many documentaries), so you can trust it’s still of a high standard. We’ve collected some of the highlights here, including recent additions and old favourites.
Credit: BBCThe first series has been a BBC Three staple boxset for a long time, but now there’s a new series, with an episode dropping every week. Our hero Fleabag (played by the show’s writer, the wonderful Phoebe Waller-Bridge), has a lot of troubles in her life, but she is kind enough to share them with the viewer, with just the right amount of background information to make you laugh or cry at any given moment.
Glow Up: Britain's Next Make-Up Star
Credit: Wall to Wall MediaStacey Dooley presents a competition for young make up artists to get the chance to break into the profession. Through a series of creative and skill based challenges, the artists are tested, with each episode climaxing with a one-on-one between the two worst-performers.
Eating with My Ex
Credit: BBCIn each episode of the show, two different couples who have split up are reunited for one last meal. All going to plan, it leads to a frank conversation about how relationships fall apart, and what each person has learnt since they went their separate ways. It can also be a chance to finally extract the truth or make a confession, and hopefully settle still raw wounds. Yes, it’s reality TV with a premise that can easily cause spectacular arguments, but the intimacy and simplicity of the presentation show how the genre isn’t always just for trashy fun.
Credit: BBCIf you want Stacey Dooley, BBC Three is the channel for you. She investigates people shot by their neighbours! She investigates second chance sex offenders! She investigates sex in strange places, such as Turkey (Turkey the place, not turkey the fowl)! If there’s something out there that needs investigated, you can count on Dooley to investigate the ever loving stuff out of it. Don’t let the breezy girl next door persona fool you, though: it enables her to disarm her interviewees, gaining confidences other interviewers might not. She’s one of the Beeb’s most-watched presenters and is well on her way to national treasure status.
Alt-Right: Age of Rage
Credit: BBCCovering political discourse during the first year of Donald Trump’s term as president, this documentary follows the growth of a nationalistic and authoritarian movement encouraged by Trump’s election. The viewer’s led by anti-fascist protesters, who follow the activities of the alt-right closely, and ensure they never demonstrate or try to spread their ideology unopposed. It’s a grimly interesting glimpse into a significant force in modern politics, in particular during the programme’s conclusion, when it examines the particularly aggressive protest held in Charlottesville, North Carolina in August 2017, that resulted in the death of one counter-protester and the injury of several others.
Credit: Roughcut TVThere are some real gems among BBC Three’s selection of box sets including Cuckoo, in which Greg James plays an increasingly exasperated parent; Uncle, in which an ageing man-child and failed rock star finds himself in charge of a nerdy nephew; and the wonderful Fleabag, which, if you haven’t seen it, you should probably just stay off work and binge it until you’ve seen every last awkwardly brilliant frame of it.
Credit: BBCBBC Three has a freedom its terrestrial siblings don’t, and that enables it to go deep on specific subjects. Its current thread on mental health is particularly good, encompassing not just hard-hitting documentaries such as George Shelley: Learning to Grieve, or MisFITS Like Us, a series helping people tackle their anxieties about their bodies and behaviours; but also dramas, such as the compelling Overshadowed.