Friday, April 13, 2007

Orbiting close to power

Some days just turn out unexpectedly.

About a week ago I took a call from someone in Development at the BBC asking me if I'd help them walk through a couple of quiz show concepts. It was to be a lunchtime's work, playing the games and feeding back in my role as an interested former quiz contender and 'critical friend' of the BBC.

So I turned up at Television Centre yesterday to be met by a researcher. We spent the next hour walking through two prime-time concepts, both of which seemed to be in their final stages of development. There was another 'critical friend' with me, a couple of BBC people, and a guy who'd previously pitched quiz ideas to the Beeb. We were told we were going to have a run through of both shows for real, and that some people from the Development team would be looking on and taking notes.

So, as we hit 1pm I was a tad gobsmacked when BBC Creative Director, Alan Yentob, BBC1 Controller Peter Fncham and TV Entertainment Controller Elaine Bedell strolled into the room, accompanied by several other recognisable faces from the Corporation's top management team.

I know we were only playing for fun - and a small fee for our services - but it certainly added an edge to the play!

I can't say anything much about the proposed shows - one's better than the other, or at least closer to a final product. One could slot into Saturday night quite easily, while I'd see the other filling a Weakest Link/Egg Heads slot.

It was interesting to see the top BBC people at work - even if it was only out of the corner of my eye, and frustrating to be ushered out quite quickly after the run-throughs were finished as I'd have loved to be a part of that particular post-match discussion.

In fact, I think that was the only weakness of the session. While we had a chance to chat about the shows with the research team, the management missed the opportunity to take our input on board as bog-standard BBC viewers and, indeed as players of the games.

So, for an hour and a quarter, my orbit intersected with the BBC's decision makers. But then, as is ever the case, we continued on our own quite separate paths.

It does make me want to come up with my own concept though - much better than being a contestant!

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