Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The day in 1998 when I heard British TV was changing forever

It was 1998.
I think around the back end of that year.

I was in a room on the 4th floor at BBC Television Centre, and I remember being gathered around Geoffrey Perkins.
The lovely Head of Comedy hero of mine who seemed shocked, if not a little shaken. (All the Entertainment Department Heads were there too and were also lovely genius heroes).

Someone was asking him to say it again, because they didn't understand it.

He said, again, that the trails in between the programmes were going to be different.

Instead of us supplying clips that would be cut together as a little bit of everything to trail tonight or tomorrow, now... from now on, programmes were going to be chosen.

And only one or two of them.

And they were going to be trailed lots of times.

Like one of the comic dullards in the many sitcoms being made by the geniuses in the room at the time, still nobody was getting this.

(If you're under 40, it was a little like a scene from Mad Men where someone is explaining a computer to them for the first time).

And then came the flood of worry questions:
"What? Just one or two shows?"
"But what about all the other shows they put out?"
"They don't care about them."
"But which department gets which slots?"
"What if we don't get any trails?"

We just didn't get it.

A whole night - a whole day - of TV was going to be reduced to a few "brands".

Just like everywhere else.

I don't know what made me think of it just now.

Today if you had an advert, with lots of clips, of what's on tomorrow... with actual clips from the actual shows... it'd probably look like a really original out-of-the-box piece of thinking on-the-box.

I didn't know it.

But it was the start of TV shows stopping being called TV series and starting being called brands.

See also: Telling my daughter to ignore the (TV) judges...

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