BBC England is launching a new series that puts current affairs into the hands of the people, telling their stories in their own words.
The programmes for BBC One have been made from hubs in Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, London and Norwich over two series. There will be 60 programmes per series and 120 per year.
Audiences will hear from army veterans suffering with mental health problems who are retraining as HGV drivers, pastors keeping a city’s streets safe at night, and the family of Michelle Bettles, 20 years on from her murder, as police reopen the case and investigate new lines of enquiry.
We Are England, which starts on 26 January 2022, is unlike any current affairs programme currently on TV. The series examines the changing face of England and explores the big issues people are talking about, in parts of the country often ignored. The aim is to provide a unique and important reflection of the opinions and voices of England on a specific subject area.
Themes for the first series range from mental health and the housing crisis, to unsolved murders and young entrepreneurs striving to set up successful businesses in the face of adversity.
In the final week of the first series audiences will hear from six celebrities who take us on a personal journey of discovery to their hometowns, to understand what makes them who they are.
Aisling O’Connor, Head of TV Commissioning for BBC England, says: “We Are England is a new current affairs programme for our audience in England that will get to the heart of subjects that matter nationally, framed through a local lens.
“It’s so important that BBC England reflects its audiences up and down the country. This series will deliver a range and rich diversity of story and content, told from the perspective of our local communities."
The BBC announced earlier this year that award-winning executive producer Sarah Trigg will lead the new peak-time programme. Sarah has made hit documentaries and factual shows for BBC Two, BBC Three and Channel 4. Most recently she led the Birmingham base of independent producer Wonder.
Sarah says: “The brand new nationwide current affairs programme will provide a voice to our diverse regional audiences.
“Our talented teams across the country have been working hard to source and discover fresh content which explores a modern and fast-changing England and we can’t wait for viewers to see it.”
We Are England starts on Wednesday 26 January 2022 at 7.30pm on BBC One. The second 10-part series is due to start in autumn 2022.