Sunday, May 31, 2009

What newish media could learn from Old - Britain's Got Talent

And so Britain's Got Talent is done, over Kapush!

Well not quite. In my last post I mapped out the regime behind producing the sort of compelling VT with Susan Boyle story et al.

Diversity won, a blow for the producers in their attempt to chart Boyle's breakthrough with a doc and indeed attach a talent coach from say, Simon Cowell's company.

Diversity for all their brilliance will not be as easy to manage, because of the sheer size and the speciality of their act, plus the boy's have their own independence.

Their story will be told, but frankly they may begin to resent the intrusion and the need for the newspapers to tell a story that has conflict and adversary as a narrative.

"So one of you is studying physics, you've got a Masters, and you're doing IT. Er were you ever in any, er.. you know..."

Awkward questions follow. I hope the boy's find themselves a good manager and minder because the intrusion into their backgrounds is set to rise - from particularly the newspapers who for a limited time know the lads for Essex will sell newspapers.

It shouldn't be that way. Good stories should just sell, but the technicians behind newspapers don't think that way and for them this is business.

I'm related to one of the UK's superstar rugby players and during the intense interest in his brilliant plays, his folks had to deal with all kinds of the press interest. I spoke to a few journalists from the red tops .

So to what in film we call a turning point as I address the central themes of this post and the the question, just what could newspapers, new media and videojournalism learn from the pros?

Simply, that when you have a good story, stick with it.

Some stories can run and run. And a number of the acts from Britain's Got Talent may well have been approached to be the subject of documentaries or series. For as the curtain comes down, that some of their lives will be transformed means there's more video to run.

Lets hope that they'll all be as inspiring as their acts on the day.

Post script

This was added belatedly following the news the ff day of Boyle being admitted to hospital under the mental health act.

Firstly this may just be a preventative measure, so best not to read too much into it, until a doctor's assessment.

Colin Paterson of the BBC, talking on the Today programme was right to draw attention to Ms Boyle's playful gestures after he BGT show, but not to make a link with what he said and her admission into a clinic.

Nonetheless, this will no doubt raise questions of TV's handling of contestants re: the early Big Brother sagas.

Boyle though is different. BB you enter knowing the consequences of the gold fish bowl. BGT promises you fame, but not overt scrutiny.

As a former producer, I can imagine what it would have been like to set eyes on Susan. It would have been evident quite early if she were ill. The producers would have offered her support on a professional level to get her through the show.

"OK Susan you're doing fine. The public love you".

Often after a show, this support disappears, there are new projects to move onto. And a tv producer is no Doctor. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of thought went into: what if Susan loses, based on how swiftly she was admitted into the Priory - one of the most sought after places for pop and tv stars, seeking privacy.

It's often difficult to comprehend this, but for Ms Boyle leading a sheltered life, conservative ( small c) quiet, a church goer/singer having to go through such public attention will be extremely difficult.

What she needs now is someone like Max Clifford to keep the image everyone's come to love safe in the knowledge that is what will make her the money, many will say she richly deserves.

Because her admission so swifty