BBC recruits YouTube stars to hook those elusive teens

The BBC hopes YouTuber Ali-A will get kids liking and subscribing to Auntie again.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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If you can't beat YouTube  stars, recruit 'em. That's one of the tactics employed by the BBC in a new push to win back teenagers with new drama, reality and documentary shows tackling sex education, relationships and parents.

Kids too old for CBeebies and too young for BBC Three have been underserved by broadcast television for a while now. And they've responded by deserting en masse to YouTube, Minecraft and games consoles. Auntie Beeb is looking to redress that with a line-up available online as box sets for teens to binge on iPlayer.

Among the stars involved are Youtubers Mimi Missfit and Ali-A, the latter of whom has over 14 million subscribers on the video sharing site.


YouTube star Ali-A, AKA Alastair Aiken.


The new shows are:

  • The A List Drama set on an island that conceals dark secrets, exploring "friendship, romance, loyalty and betrayal".
  • Teen Taxi Reality-type show revealing the conversations between teenagers and parents in their family cars -- not to be confused with Channel 4's very similar Taxi of Mum and Dad.
  • I'm Not Driving That YouTuber Ali-A and various celebrities soup up cars driven by kids who've just passed their test. Think of it as Pimp My Ride with L-plates. 
  • Mimi Tells it Straight: Everything you need to know about Sex YouTuber Mimi Missfit and a group of 15 year olds travelling to Holland to find out how Dutch teenagers learn the facts of life.
  • Logan High Improvised drama about Scottish high-schoolers.
  • True Believers Comedy drama about rival girl and boy bands, airing on CBBC with Pussycat Dolls and Masterchef star Kimberley Wyatt.

On the more informative front, doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken will present a series of programmes on mental health and alcohol. A series of documentaries will also cover the issues facing teenage boys in London, young people building eco-friendly communities in Wales, and young men facing adulthood after a lifetime of being in foster care.

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