BBC Three to return as TV channel in February

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Bimini Bon Boulash
Bimini Bon Boulash was a runner-up in series two of RuPaul's Drag Race UK

BBC Three will return as a TV channel in February - six years after it moved online - regulator Ofcom has confirmed.

The channel has since been responsible for major hits including RuPaul's Drag Race UK, Fleabag and Normal People - prompting calls for its resurrection.

The broadcasting watchdog officially approved the move on Thursday, and the new channel will be available on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat.

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.

"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."

She added that the broadcast approach would "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".

Last year, BBC research concluded there was a "strong case" for BBC Three to come back as a regular TV channel, focusing on younger audiences.

MP Julian Knight said the move online showed the BBC had "failed" those viewers, after the plan was first announced in March.

"I question whether putting the clock back five years is the right way to win over 18-35s," said Mr Knight, who chairs the select committee for the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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