Saturday, August 11, 2012

BBC video gets it wrong with Olympic Boxing Champion Nicola Adams

Viewmagazine's David Dunkley Gyimah (not in shot)  presents to BBC Executives in new ideas in video making at Bush House
Imagine the production meeting for Olympic coverage post British wins.

Nicola Adams, a self-effacing, girl-next-door from Leeds has just won the fight of her life, winning a gold medal.  The production team meet wanting to put together a VT ( a short video story) will go through the routine of what will be appealing and innovative for the viewer.

Word is Adams would like to go and max out on MacDonalds, as during her training regime, the Big Mac was off-limits.

The BBC production think it through and believe they have come up with a great idea. They have been stellar thus far with some exemplar VTs particularly in the promos and essays.

Cue the presenter Mishal Husain reading a prepared script... Adams wanted to go a MacDonald's, but we have a better idea.

Adams is then seen in a Rolls Royce being interviewed, but the impending car crash, metaphorically, is the BBC taking her to the Hilton Green Park.

The Olympic champion is out of sorts and either through careful editing or production avoids being overtly patronised and made to look starry eyed as she marvels about the place and earlier the Rolls Royce that carried her here.

Earlier on she noted how she got to the Olympics for her event on a bus.

Not one of the BBC's finest VTs, and hopefully a senior producer more sensitive to programming will ensure it's not repeated.

There was nothing wrong in taking her to a place she would not normally visit; these venues may soon become common place, given the change to her lifestyle.

But her naivety at this stage looked exposed and exploitable. I hope she finds some good communications people to manager her.

Having worked with Lennox Lewis (and other boxers) as one of his videojournalists; Lennox was incredibly media savvy, but would admit when he first won his Olympic title he would have been susceptible to media stunts, as well being a former BBC freelance producer, and radio reporter, I have an inkling how these things happen.
David, as  Lennox' videojournalist during training for his fight with Tyson in the US 

It's a good idea not quite rightly executed. Broadcasting works on the concept of semantic pairings. That means you work in an idea polar to that obvious with your subject in the film.

Note how a previous film with the new Olympic Gold Medallist Greg Rutherford took him to the highest building in London. An obvious semantic pairing; he lives on the ground, so lets take him up in the air.

The most obvious story semantic pairing is David and Goliath. He's small, Goliath is big - great story if Goliath is beaten. The trouble is semantic pairings don't always work, when social variables crop up.

The better more absorbing idea for Adams  would have been to also; I stress also, have taken Adams to a MacDonald's, or otherwise scrapped the Hilton idea altogether.

At MacDonald's that would have made great television.

First buy out £300 pounds worth of Madcees, the cost to hire the Rolls Royce, place it on a table -watch her reaction as she laughs herself silly. You wanted a Macdee how many can you chomp from here and then invite anyone in range, her new fans,  to join her for a Macdee brunch.

Round it off with pictures, which undoubtedly punters and Macdee staff would treasure. Instead, whilst the scopophilia of the Hilton worked for the cinematography there was little animation from supposed new fans at the Hllton. Yes the journey on the way taking picture with fans produced some good TV, but inside a roller ala Bob Hoskinesque er...!!!

Hopefully it's only a blip.

David Dunkley Gyimah is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster and an RTS juror for Innovation in News, which judges UK broadcast news' best offerings. He is completing his Phd in Newsmaking at University College Dublin at the SMARTlab. He publishes at