BBC Three to return to TV screens next year

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's unique comedy creation aired its second and final series this year, but not before reaching huge levels of popularity as it captured the attentions of US fans. But before it bowed out for good, it made sure it left its mark by leaving thousands with a crush on Andrew Scott's gin in a tin fan: the Hot Priest. The humour, heartbreaking dialogue and exploration of grief ensures <em>Fleabag</em>'s place in television history. (BBC)
'Fleabag' was a BBC Three show. (BBC)

BBC Three will be returning as a broadcast channel, Ofcom has confirmed.

The channel will launch in early February 2022 and will be available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat.

BBC Three went online in 2016 after 13 years on air.

Read more: Andrew Marr addresses BBC exit after 21 years

It was responsible for hit shows like Fleabag, Normal People and Killing Eve and there had been calls to have it reinstated.

Announcing its decision, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said: “We carefully assessed the BBC’s plans, alongside evidence and feedback gathered during our consultation. We concluded that the channel’s re-launch will help the BBC to increase its reach among younger underserved viewers – particularly those from lower-income homes, and audiences who live outside London and the South East.”

“To ensure the channel is distinctive, at least 75% of hours broadcast each year must be original programmes, commissioned by the BBC for UK viewers. We are also requiring the channel to deliver first-run UK content across a mix of genres, as well as weekday news programmes.”

Killing Eve is a Best Drama nominee. (BBC)
BBC has been responsible for some big shows. (BBC)

BBC Three controller Fiona Campbell said she was “absolutely thrilled”.

“This is a big moment, with the new channel providing a destination for young audiences to discover more content on the BBC,” she said in a statement.

Read more: BBC news presenter quits with ‘immediate effect’ after 33 years on the job

“We will work hand in hand with iPlayer to provide a broad offering that is representative of the whole of the UK and we will continue to back new talent and bold ideas. This approach will bring the audience a distinctive mix of programmes that are there to entertain, inspire and challenge thinking, at a pivotal and exciting time to be young in the UK.”

Watch: Piers Morgan cleared by Ofcom over Meghan Markle controversy