BBC Three returns as linear channel

Launch night will feature the first RuPaul's Drag Race: UK Versus The World.

BBC Three will return as a broadcast channel on Tuesday – nearly six years after it moved online.

It will air from 7pm every night on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat, and will also be available on iPlayer.

Launch-night programming will include the first RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK Versus The World, which sees the UK play host as nine international Drag Race alumni compete to win the title of Drag Race Superstar.

Fleabag Series 2 photocall at the BFI Southbank – London
Fleabag starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge was a hit on BBC Three (Ian West/PA)

BBC Three is being revived as a linear channel following the success of shows including Normal People and Fleabag.

According to the broadcaster, the channel will be a “multi-genre offering”, where audiences can expect a “rich content mix of drama, comedy, entertainment, documentaries, news and sport”.

The BBC announced in March 2014 that it was planning to move the channel online, sparking a protest outside Broadcasting House.

More than 300,000 people signed a petition to save it on change.org, but it ceased operations in 2016 and was replaced by an online-only version available on iPlayer.

Its return was given the green light by broadcasting regulator Ofcom in November.

The watchdog said the relaunch would help the BBC reach younger viewers, particularly those from lower-income homes and those living outside London and the South East.

It also stipulated the BBC must ensure that at least “75% of hours broadcast each year must be original programmes”, as commissioned by the corporation for a UK viewing audience.

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