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BBC Three will return to TV screens next month

The channel has been off the air since 2016, and is relaunching with 'Ru Paul's Drag Race', African Cup of Nations football and more

By Will Richards

The stars of 'Normal People' on a beach in Ireland
'Normal People' was one of BBC Three's biggest hits in its online-only era. (Photo: Element Pictures/Enda Bowe)

BBC Three has announced that it will return to TV screens in the UK from the start of next month.

The channel, which was taken off the air in 2016 and has since featured online-only shows such as the hugely successful adaptation of Sally Rooney’s ‘Normal People’, will be back on TV screens from February 1.

From that time, it will be available to watch as before from 7pm each night on Freeview, Freesat, Virgin and Sky, as well as on the BBC iPlayer.

Among the shows marking the show’s return include the new ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Versus The World‘ and coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

Speaking about the latter coming to BBC Three, the station’s controller Fiona Campbell said: “We know how popular sport is with younger audiences and it’s going to have a big part to play on BBC Three.

“AFCON is set to be an incredibly exciting tournament with some of the best players in the World on show and it’s brilliant news that we will be showing the climax of the competition on free to air television.”

Last month, the BBC shared a first look at the forthcoming adaptation of ‘Conversations with Friends’, Sally Rooney’s debut novel.

The much anticipated series, bringing the Irish novelist’s acclaimed debut to the small screen, is set to air in 2022.

‘Conversations with Friends’ was greenlit for a 12-episode run in 2020, adapting Rooney’s 2017 novel after the major success of the BBC adaptation of her second novel Normal People, starring Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones.

Alison Oliver is set to play main character Frances, and will be joined by Joe Alwyn (‘The Favourite’) as Nick, Sasha Lane as Bobbi and Jemima Kirke (‘Sex Education’) as Melissa.