BBC readies new lot of India-based shows

Constantly keep refurbishing formats as well as shows. That is the philosophy Narendra Morar, commissioning editor, BBC World, believes works today. And fitting well into this strategy is the latest India-specific programme launching on the channel - Dateline India.

Dateline India launches Friday, 5 April and will be hosted by columnist Tavleen Singh. The weekly show fits into the same slot earlier occupied by Question Time India and will air every Friday at 10 pm.

The programme is weighted towards political issues and the format is that every week three journalists will be invited to debate and discuss the issues that have dominated the week.

"Dateline India presents the viewer with topical, perceptive and sometimes controversial opinions and analysis on national issues," says Morar. "This new India-specific programme affirms BBC World's faith in the power, depth and understanding of Indian journalistic talent and makes the most of this to give viewers a better appreciation of current affairs and how it affects their lives."
Narendra Morar

While Dateline India will invite the top journalists in the country to participate, it will also serve as a platform to showcase journalistic talent that is normally outside the pale of most such shows, says Morar. It appears that he is hoping that Dateline India will offer more by way of opinionated debate than "the same old faces".

Giving an example of how the formats of BBC shows are being tweaked, Morar referred to the current India Business Report series. Earlier it was a show produced in the magazine format while the current 13-episode series is issue based. Once this series completes its run, a series around on key personalities in Indian business will be run, Morar revealed.

Most of the series that will henceforth be aired will have 13-episode runs, Morar says.

These are the shows that go on air post-April:

Dateline India with Tavleen Singh hosting; Wheels (new series) with Niret Alva & Natasha Margo hosting and Face to Face (new series) where Karan Thapar continues as the interviewer.

That is not all, coming in June is a new series called Great Moments in Cricket. Morar is also on the lookout for a new reality series to replace Commando! which is nearing the end of its run.

Referring to Commando! and Hospital which preceded it, Morar said while they were received well, it was a gamble on the part of BBC to go ahead with them. He saw that as a major problem in India where channels were unwilling to take risks. "There is not enough emphasis on original ideas. Programmers are taking the path of least resistance," Morar said.

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