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Too old for TV?

November 11th, 2010

The former controller of BBC1 yesterday rejected claims that she ‘hated women’.

Jay Hunt, who was also accused of ageism by Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly, told a tribunal the claims were ‘profoundly distressing’, ‘hateful’, and ‘categorically untrue’

The BBC has denied the presenter was axed because of her age.

Last week Ms O’Reilly said one of the other presenters dropped from the show had told her the decision was “ageist”.

So can you be too old for television? Does it all come down to a show’s format and time of day it is aired?

Michaela Strachan, as well as Juliet Morris and Ms O’Reilly, lost her job on Countryfile ahead of its move to Sunday evenings, with Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker among new presenters who joined the revamped programme. Throughout the last years of its life, GMTV saw a number of younger presenters intorudced to early morning television and This Morning brought in Holly Willoughby (28) as Fern Britton’s (52) replacment.

In 2007, the BBC “sounded the death knell for ‘traditional newsreaders'”, hinting that a campaign to save the veteran news anchor Moira Stuart from the axe was doomed to fail. Stewart’s removal at the time also brought accusations of ageism and sexism.

Are we seeing a development in television and the role of the young presenter, or is this simply ‘ageism’ and unfair treatment to the older generation of presenter? Perhaps even the new high defintion (HD) television will spotlight the make-up, wrinkles and signs of age and that all presenters will be replaced by clear-skinned children?

The tribunal continues.


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‘Blood, Sweat And Takeaways’ Scoops Prize at Digital Awards

June 18th, 2010

Broadcast Digital Awards.

Judges at Wednesday evening’s Broadcast Digital Awards, called Blood, Sweat And Takeaways, “an immersive style seeing participants live alongside factory workers in an intensive five-week filming period.”

The BBC3 show picked up the award for Best Popular Factual Programme (the award sponsored by Production Wizard for the second year running), beating Electric Dreams, Made In Britain, My Big Fat Cycle Challenge, Ross Kemp: Return to Afghanistan and What Katie Did Next. The four-part series – made by Ricochet – gained almost 1 million viewers on its initial airing, making it BBC3’s most successful documentary ever, and won a transfer to the 10.30pm slot on BBC1, when the same instalment was watched by 2 million. The show was a clear winner for the judges in what they described as “a wide-open field”.


David Constable, Emma Hardcastle and Group Head of TV Studio Operations at Pinewood and Shepperton, Simon Honey.

The awards were hosted by comedian, Rufus Hound, fresh from hosting The Isle of Wight Festival coverage, and the comedian joked on how he was on a stage looking out at TV commissioners and media executives, many of whom he’d pitched to and many of whom had turned him away. “At least I have Dave!” he proclaimed, to the amusement of the channel’s table.

Other big winners on the night included E4; Four Weddings, ITV Studios for Living; and Sky Arts. The Individual Achievement Award went to John Ryley, Head of Sky News. Conor Dignam, Group Editor of Broadcast, Screen and Shots commented:

“As the editor of one of the most powerful news brands in the market, this year’s winner launched an online campaign calling for a televised debate that attracted thousands of signatures. He wrote personally to every party leader – and published their replies. He lobbied, he cajoled, he used the power of his channel and brand and he twisted arms – to make it happen. Even his broadcasting rivals concede that without his passion and commitment to make this happen, there may have been no live debate… the award for outstanding achievement goes to the editor of Sky News, John Ryley.”


Head of Sky News, John Ryley.

John Ryley said, “The award is for everyone at Sky who contributed to the success of the Leaders’ Debate and the launch of HD. Never accept the status quo.”

It was a wonderful evening and Production Wizard are very happy to have sponsored an award and supported the event. Congratulations to all the winners and we’ll see you all at the Soho Fun Run on 24th July.

For a full list of the winners:


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Pan Left…Pan Right…Pan Left…Pan Right

June 26th, 2009

Wimbledon 2009It’s the time of year when BBC’s OB’s (Outside Broadcasts) has a field day.  Or I should say a field and court day.  Or maybe a field and many courts day.  It’s Wimbledon and Glastonbury time and interestingly, last year the entire BBC OB department was sold to indie OB provider, SIS Live who now provide facilities for both events.

I was wondering what it’s like being an OB cameraman, especially the guy who does the static wideshot of the tennis court?  I assume it is a guy and not a remote camera?  It’s a guy on, Have I Got News For You, you see him at the end, sitting there behind the camera pointing at the presenter.  Maybe it’s a trainee?  There are probably worst shows to be an OB cameraman on, darts, snooker, though I’m sure they all have their demands.  Surprisingly, they even have slow motion replays on darts and snooker.

This year’s Wimbledon goes fully HD, whereas in previous years only centre court and court one have been HD. There are the four trucks including the ominously sounding OB7, dedicated HD truck, along with 70 HD cameras, 8 slow motion cameras, 31 HD video recorders and 20 networked EVS recorders, allowing slow motion replays to be accessed by any user.  And the obligatory 50 miles of cable, riggers, etc, etc.  It’s complicated and of almost sci-fi proportions.  Indeed the BBC trailer for the event seems to be inspired by just that, having been made in the style of Tron.

The Wimbledon championships started in 1877, twelve years before even film was invented, but early coverage in the thirties, was very similar to that of today.  A little shakier maybe and in black and white, and of course, not exactly live, but otherwise…

If you think the HD coverage looks good, maybe the next big thing will be Wimbledon 3D, then the cameraman on the static wide shot really will have something to say. Which brings me to Glastonbury.

3d-discoThe big thing at Glastonbury, is the silent disco. Seriously!!  And 3D, for the ultimate clubbing experience.  Two thousand clubbers, surrounded by huge screens, will wear radio linked headphones and 3D glasses to immerse themselves into the one hour, audio visual extravaganza created by DJ’s and motion graphic and visual artists. Already tried out in Trafalgar Square in 2007 it’s expected to be the experience of the Glastonbury experience.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s 117 hours worth of coverage of the event will present a different perspective to the OB cameramen here.  I have a picture of them in rock concert black, as opposed to their Wimbledon counterparts in white Fred Perry shirts and slacks.  I wonder if they swap jobs?

The BBC started pGlastonburylanning for Glastonbury in April, and have a crew of 275 people on the event.  This year they’re using a half hour delay for some of the acts who might use offensive language, after two years ago, Arctic Monkeys let rip before the watershed.  Apparently they’re standing by for Lily Allen.

I bet they wished they had that piece of equipment at Wimbledon!


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