Category Archives: BBC
Second screen TV is the current industry buzz word and producers are thinking up of ideas that go beyond linear programme making. Producers’ roles are also changing in which they are having to understand and really think about the multi-platform and dual screen experiences of their audiences. BBC Academy through BBC Fusion recently organised Fusion Second Screen Summit, Fusion to Screen, where the current dual screen main players gave their points of view, case studies, pitfalls as well as available technological opportunities that they know of.
Below is the blog post from the Academy:
If you’ve ever sat and fiddled with your smartphone or laptop while ‘watching’ TV, you’ve experienced the wonders of second screen technology.
The question is: what were you doing with that second screen? Whether it’s tapping out an email, doing a bit of internet shopping or replying to a friend on Twitter, the chances are that your activity rarely has anything to do with the programme currently being displayed on the TV screen in your lounge.
Admit it – you were distracted.
And, unfortunately for conventional programme-makers who are keen to keep people’s eyeballs firmly focused on their latest piece of work, this potential distraction is only going to get greater. The statistics show that smartphone take up is on the rise, and that the big screen in the corner of the room is going to have to fight even harder for the attention of the people sitting in front of it.
Simply making arresting content is a start. But there is a another way, known variously as dual screen or synched second screen, where, instead of being in competition with other devices, TV works with them to create something unique.
This was the subject of the ‘Second Screen Telly’ Fusion Summit which aimed to explore the opportunities, challenges and new formats of two-screen TV viewing
Hosted by the BBC Academy at its headquarters in White City, the day-long event (#fusion2screen) was attended by both BBC staff and a large proportion of the companies already making second screen a viable reality.
So what can be done to unite TV and second screen? Anthony Rose, head of Zeebox and former head of BBC iPlayer, summed it up neatly while on a panel discussing the ‘state of the art’. In his view, there are four uses: as an interactive programme guide where you can find different programmes to watch; as something to keep you entertained while you’re watching a show; as a remote control that can alter what’s on the main screen; or as a means to buy something that is currently on screen, either in an ad or via product placement.
Speaking on the same panel, Tom Williams of BBC Vision described how the BBC is getting involved with the second. He revealed that two play-along quizzes which synchronise with broadcast programmes are currently being developed and will be revealed later this year.
Simon Brickle from Monterosa was positive about the use of bespoke second screen applications in relation to TV shows. He said his company’s research suggested that people actually pay more attention to what’s on TV when using accompanying dual screen apps – not less. He said that second screen could also act as a “magical funnel” to channel passive TV viewers into active online users of any related online content.
It was clear throughout the day that most speakers believed that, far from being a passing fad, second screen is set to shake things up in the world of TV. Rose said that the ability to click and buy what is on screen would mean the reinvention of the world of TV advertising in the next few years. Richard Morris of Ex Machina reckoned that whole new formats could be created to take advantage of the technology.
His colleague Jeroen Elfferich described how this was already beginning to happen with Netherlands interactive gameshow Intuition, which used Ex Machina’s PlayToTV platform and was, he said, the first such show to be created specifically for second screen.
Unsurprisingly, the gameshow has proved a popular choice for associated apps with game mechanics.
Remarkable Television’s David Flynn described the process of creating The Million Pound Drop and Bank Job – two shows which used second screens to integrate a strong interactive element. He said the key to their success was that they took an existing viewer impulse – e.g. “I can do better at answering the questions than the people on TV” – and made it an achievable goal thanks to synched second screen.
He described how Million Pound Drop had evolved from a simple game dynamic mocked up in his company’s offices with a cardboard box and a stack of pound coins.
The tasks required of him as exec illustrate how his role changed to incorporate the second screen aspect of the show. During the live broadcast he would oscillate between a more conventional TV role and one that included the online component of the game. He explained that during the development process he had to work closely with digital developers who had different timescales and demands to those usual in TV.
The need for execs to broaden their skill-sets to understand both digital and traditional TV domains was emphasised by Mark Sorrel, games guru from Somethin’ Else. He argued that, if a company was going to produce a game to go along with its show, it should strive to make it just as polished as the finished programme for TV.
The focus wasn’t just on gameshows, however. Three BBC speakers – Dan Biddle, Chris Sizemore and Steve Herrmann – discussed how second screen could be successfully used with dramas, live news and across the BBC’s educational content with the new Knowledge & Learning product.
BBC Future Media head of audiences Holly Goodier argued that second screen is an old idea in a new environment, and that the corporation could learn much about its successful application by looking at the success of its Red Button service.
Social media was also scrutinised. As a natural use of the second screen, there is plenty of potential to engage with audiences – as Andy Littledale of SecondSynch illustrated with his statistic that 40% of UK tweets at peak time are about TV programmes. The question is how, or indeed whether, to harness this.
Whatever it focuses on, it’s clear that second screen is a burgeoning phenomenon that isn’t going to go away anytime soon. To make the most of it, keeping audiences engaged with the programme and not flicking to their Facebook profile takes innovative content which demands a variety of skills – from conventional TV making, to digital design, to game mechanics.
Few people are going to have them all. But, as awareness of what it takes to make second screen grows, so surely will the success of its application.
For videos from the event, visit the BBC Academy YouTube channel.
As BBC Three’s Karl Warner put it, Fast Train, held last week at BBC Media Village, was like a mini MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.
Organised by BBC Academy and Skillset, the day saw hundreds of freelance telly and online bods who were able to choose various sessions and masterclasses led by those who are at the forefront of their field.
Here’s a short film summing up the day:
I went to six sessions. My highlights were:
Sweating Your Assets – led by Shine’s Co-MD Jamie Munro, it was a very interesting talk about the evolution of MasterChef and how it has become an internationally successful 360 brand that it is today.
Jamie talked about brand values:
MasterChef is a factual entertainment how based around food – but does not tell you how to cook
Understanding the brand values and how they link to consumer products is essential to overcoming the obstacle
The MasterChef series around the world may vary but at its core MasterChef is about: entertainment, changing lives and a journey to achieve excellence in food.
Loved the session on how to get diverse contributors chaired by Simone Pennant from The TV Collective. It was interesting to hear from various programme makers (Executive Producer Sarah Eglin from Maverick Television, who works on Embarrassing Bodies, Producer Riffi Khan for Come Dine With Me and Matt Rudge who directed So What if My Baby is Born Like Me?), whose shows are very much character-driven.
There was also an interesting debate chaired by Broadcast’s Editor Lisa Campbell on The Future of Documetaries. The panel consisted of Neil Grant from Mentorn, Richard McKerrow from Love Productions, Andrew O’Connell from Channel 5 and Stuart Cabb from Plum Productions. What has become apparent is that documentary-making as a genre is becoming more broad however as with anything to do with programme-making, good story-telling is always at its core. So, call it observational doc, reality a la The Only Way is Essex, straight doc, one must not forget about high production values.
It’s always very interesting to hear what the telly bosses want and so I went along Let Me Entertain You. Chaired by George Lamb, Katie Taylor (BBC), Daniela Newmann (ITV), Greg Barnett (Channel 5) shared their insights on what they want and what they think works as an entertainment programme.
Then there’s Hat Trick Digital’s chief Jonathan Davenport’s session on Devising and Monetising Successful Apps. He used the Fonjacker app as a case study and it was interesting to hear about the importance of joined up thinking and technical partnerships as well as revenue sharing.
As an attendee, it is really important to have events like this that are accessible to those who do not have the capacity to go expensive masterclasses or training. Continuing professional development is absolutely essential and it is great to hear from other industry bods who are happy to give up their time to talk about best practice as well as what also failed. As a side, it was brilliant to finally have met Fanta Jarjussey. I’ve only been chatting with her on Twitter and it was lovely to have met her in real life.
Looking forward to the next one already and thank you to the organisers and speakers.
Yet another one of those brilliant lunchtime talks at work took place last week and we had Becky Clarke – Head of Factual at Optomen. Becky’s impressive credit list includes Mary Portas Secret Shopper (Channel 4), Mary Queen of Shops (BBC Two), Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (ITV) as well as Cops and Robbers (BBC One).
Becky shared some of her thoughts on what made successful primetime factual television. She said that when producing your first series, one should not be stressed about making it a hit. The first series should be your testing ground of what works and what does not work. It’s about building the format and cementing your talent as an expert in their field.
She used Mary Queen of Shops as an example. Becky said that it took three years to build the show and Mary’s brand. The first series very much felt like a mismatch. However, your second series is the most important one. Here, you establish the brand and learn from the mistakes made from the first one.
This is a preview of Mary Queen of Shops S2. Thanks to fashionLond0n for the video.
Becky said that once you get to your third series, one must refresh the format as viewers are now wise to them. Audiences find it intriguing to see the more human side of the expert. Viewers seeing the expert ‘fail’ works. She said that for the third series, they were not afraid to break the format and they showed that not all can be won by the mighty Mary Portas. Episode 1 of Season 3 featured a bakery proprietor asking for the crew and Mary to leave, which meant that filming had to be stopped. Luckily, Becky and the team had enough in the can to have all these kick off the first episode of the third series.
Fresh from the excitement of Comic Relief’s 24 Hour Panel People with the brilliant David Walliams, I started working on Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day – Backstage. It was quite a surreal experience having Richard Curtis around the office and meeting Dawn French, who’s a comedy hero of mine, was definitely a highlight.
I’ve been so privileged working with such a great team as we pulled together the social media, live chat and asset management amidst a celebrity conveyor belt environment.
The celebs were out in force last Friday for Red Nose Day. Television Centre was heaving with stars and television personalities, it felt like I walked into the pages of Heat Magazine. Take That, Annie Lennox, JLS, The Wanted, Rick Astley and Adele performed; Claudia Winkleman, Michael McIntyre, Davina McCall, Graham Norton, Fearne Cotton, Lenny Henry, Alan Carr and Dermot O’Leary presented; and Jimmy Carr, Matt Smith, the cast of Miranda, Harry Enfield were some of the special guests of the night.
Here’s a link to one of my favourite clips – Smithy to the Rescue – Red Nose Day 2011 – BBC Comic Relief Night.
It was really lovely to see Australian musical comedy act Axis of Awesome there on the night. They sang Four Chords, which is currently my favourite track.
And here’s a video of their performance on the night:
Needless to say, everyone knew why we were all there. Comic Relief has been raising money to help not just poor and vulnerable people in Africa but all over the UK too. We’re all very chuffed that as RND 11′s evening drew to a close £74,360,207 had been raised which is the highest total reached on the night in Red Nose Day’s 23 year history. Well done to all those involved and big thanks go to those who have donated.
Last weekend, Little Britain star David Walliams took on a broadcast endurance challenge. Comic Relief’s 24 Hour Panel People is a 24-hour comedy marathon featuring TV and radio’s well-loved quiz shows. An array of stars including Stephen Fry, Charlie Brooker, Jack Dee, Richard Bacon, David Tennant, Jimmy Carr, Fay Ripley, Jo Brand, Vernon Kay, Sir David Frost and Miranda Hart took part to see Walliams switch from host, panelist and team captain throughout a non-stop 24-hour live show.
With about a month to pull everything together, this project was a marriage between multiplatform and linear television programme making. And it was a very harmonious marriage as just based on the way 24 Hour Panel People was received, I can say that it was truly a success.
Personally, the experience last weekend was quite overwhelming. I have never met so many talented people in a such a short space of time. And as for Mr Walliams, he said the entire experience was like “descending into madness”.
He said that it did take its toll on him physically, like not being able to focus his eyes on the autocue. I bet he was happy to hit the sack after such a rigorous task.
I have been part of such a great team – I could really see the hard work each person in the production and online team contributed from the runner to the executive producers through to the online asset producers / live chat drivers and compliance team. I really saw the nuts and bolts of how quiz shows are made, which was a fantastic insight of this part of programme-making that I have never seen before.
Also, having been involved with the online team, it was brilliant to see that #24pp was trending worldwide and to have had the support of people from all over the world thanks to the power of social media.
To see some of the photos, please go to BBC Comedy’s Facebook Page. Here are some backstage scenes:
There will be edited highlights of the shows BBC Three starting from Sunday March 13. But most of all, this was all about raising money for Comic Relief, so to donate money, please go to www.rednoseday.com.
Today’s BBC Playback was a special preview of acclaimed broadcaster Louis Theroux’s new programme entitled Louis Theroux: The Ultra Zionists, which is out on BBC Two tomorrow night at 9pm (except Northern Ireland).
For his latest outing, Theroux, who has carved a niche for his ‘Gonzo style journalism’, spends time with a small and very committed subculture of ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
After the screening, there was a Q&A. I asked him whether there was a particular group of people he wants to meet and he said that he’s always interested to meet those from religious cults. Although he added that there is a distinct difference as to who he thinks are interesting to meet and who he thinks audiences would find watchable.
It was interesting to hear how the programme was put together and to meet an interesting character such as Theroux.
I went to the special staff preview screening of BBC Films’ Brighton Rock at Vue Westfield.
The movie features Sam Riley (Control) as the psychopathic Pinkie Brown. He stars alongside John Hurt (Harry Potter), screen legend Helen Mirren (The Queen), Andrea Riseborough (Made in Dagenham), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and distinguished actor Pete Postlethwaite, who recently passed away.
Brighton Rock is based on Graham Greene’s 1938 novel of the same name and it is a remake of a 1947 film directed by John Boulting under the same title. Both novel and film are set in the 1930s, but this Rowan Joffe film has been moved to 1964 during the Mods and Rockers era. Here’s the trailer:
The film’s UK release is 4th of February.
Armed with a Flip camera, I have captured elements of some of the various panel sessions and opening night at TMFA 2010, which was held at The Roundhouse in London.
Louise Benson at the opening night
Peter Bazalgette at the opening night
Will Gompertz – opening night Question Time
Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary
Old Money New Commissioning
Mark Thompson – Arts + TV + Internet = ? Panel
Fazeley Studios played host to the BBC’s Birmingham briefing. The good news is that the Beeb is looking to increase spending into the regions for 2016. It has been mentioned that we are all working in a tough financial climate and budgets are 5 per cent less each year.
BBC Four started the proceedings. Apparently this channel is not about the ratings but about quality, award-winning programmes. They want something spiky, provocative and controversial. The channel should be fairly mainstream and not niche – BBC Four is about purpose, proposition and passion. They want intelligent and witty programmes.
Seasons are a big part of BBC Four. Knowing upcoming seasons is important because most opportunities will lie in seasons, which are mostly generated by channel management team but is now open to ideas from production companies.
BBC Two is about eclectic, mixed genre programming. It wants to be the ‘intellectual engine room of the BBC’. It aims for ambitious factual programming and is passionate about history and what people had to say. They want factual or fact ent formats for news avoiders. The priority time slot is 11-12pm. BBC Two is looking to replace Masterchef. Ideally, they do not want another food programme, but they are open to ideas. Most of all, do not forget talent. A young, male food voice is missing – is there anyone out there like Jamie Oliver or Heston Blumenthal? But on a more general basis, think of talent – again, who is the next Mary Portas?
BBC Three was next and they said that it is important to understand who watches the channel. The average age of the audience is 37 years. BBC Three needs big propositions, not niche ones. For the 8-9pm slot, they are looking for formats that are quirky and cover guilty pleasures for example, Snog Marry, Avoid? and Don’t Get Screwed. They are also looking for formats like Don’t Tell the Bride.
Documentary as a strand was represented by creative director Claire Pizey. She said that it is always useful to have an idea on how the e-comms system works. For the BBC One 10.35pm slot, the team is looking for reputational and popular docs. They would like big hitters and journeys for the 9pm slot.
BBC Two is all about single docs. BBC Four is looking for provocative 3 x 60 docs, which can be stripped across the week. Single docs can have well-known faces or showing other sides of their personalities. BBC Three is open to single docs and new directing talent. Again, do not forget about new talent. Singles could have strong characters and have access to families or anything that tackles body image and rights of passage.