Video: Masterchef Synesthesia / Swede Mason

This video – Masterchef Synetsthesia – has clearly been doing the rounds on the internet. It’s hit rate was at around 650,000 when I stumbled on it courtesy of Adam Cadman from the BBC’s classical music marketing wing.

Recently I’ve been banging on about content. The importance of editorial. Why it’s vital to make sure that an inner passion or personal investment is displayed in whatever it is you’re created. Because that personal investment will shine through. Just as it does it this masterful demonstration of audio tracking and video editing.

There’s humour in it. Not least because both Masterchef presenters tread that fine line between being hugely annoying and having a cult following because they have a tendency to trot out cliched lines. That doesn’t really matter. Because the end product emphasises the brand in a way that traditional PR and comms fails. It’s not going to make me like Masterchef anymore (the recent series saw me turn my back on it in favour of Channel 4’s brilliant Cookery School) but still as a piece of content it really succeeds.

Nice work. I hope to God it was borne out of a genuine desire to produce something witty and not at the behest of some other greater power. The latter would be depressing.

BBC Proms 2011: Martha Argerich replaced by Myung-Whun Chung

News (relatively) just in from the BBC Proms Press Office

For health reasons Martha Argerich has had to reduce her playing commitments in the coming months and deeply regrets having to cancel her planned Proms appearance in July. We are grateful to Myung-Whun Chung for replacing her. He will be making his Proms performing debut as a pianist.

It will be all over the internet by now. Everyone will know. This isn’t breaking news.

But spare a thought for pianist and conductor Myung-Whun Chung. Clearly, no artist looks at a money-earning gig like a gift-horse in the mouth, but is there a possibility something like being a ‘stand-in’ for someone some other high-profile piano soloists regard as a star is something of a poison chalice?

Obviously, anyone like Myung-Whun Chung would put their best foot forward when approaching such a concert. But isn’t there a possibility than any well-adjusted creative/sensitive human being might have crushing doubts when facing the audience offering him a warm applause.

Is it possible he might just think for a split-second: they didn’t buy the tickets to see me play piano; they bought them to see the other lass?

If it was me, the overwhelming hope would be that the audience wasn’t disappointed.

But then that’s me. I’m not a professional concert pianist or a conductor. Maybe professionals are a good deal more well-adjusted than I am.

Let’s hope so. I wouldn’t want Myung-Whun Chung to feel uncomfortable on the Royal Albert Hall stage. It’s a tough enough call just conducting, I’d say.

Myung-Whun Chung replaces Martha Argerich in Prom 5 on Monday 18 July 2011. Yes, really.

Radio: Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo BBC Radio 3 #lightfantastic

Oh dear God. I didn’t see this coming.

I sit down at my laptop to write a few blog posts and without any warning BBC Radio 3’s The Choir presenter Aled Jones introduces a special #lightfantastic performance of Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo.

The last time I heard this was the first time I sang it in a performance at my school in 1982.

Captain Noah & His Floating Zoo

Wow. And even though The Chap hated the sound of it, I found it impossible not to leap up into the attic to find the copy of the score I insisted on buying for that school performance nearly thirty years ago.

Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo on @bbcradio3live #lightfantastic (mp3)

Be sure to give it a listen if it’s still in that 7 day magic window.

It’s a no brainer. No, really.

I sat in a meeting at work the other day. Friday in fact. I was late to that meeting. It was the team meeting I have to attend every Friday morning. I’ve never made it to the start once in nearly the nearly two months it’s been a requirement for me to be there.

In fairness, I was late because I had to deal with a difficult matter beforehand. That in itself made me late to the next meeting. But, despite being late, what struck me was how quickly I dropped into the rhythm of the get together. And how I reckoned I had the easy solution to the problem being chewed over around the table.

How do we get more people to swing by the BBC’s College of Production website? I found it difficult not to wade in. Get more people to blog about it. Get more people to blog on it. Get more people – us, quite possibly – to blog about the very thing we want the audience to enthuse about.

My point in the meeting – the same point I’ll make in my interview for the Senior Content Producer role at the BBC Academy role I’ve applied for and hope to get an interview for soon – was exactly the same point I made in my Digital Surrey presentation to the assembled rather bemused looking audience.

If you’re not passionate about your subject – if you can’t demonstrate your passion – then you are, frankly, a bit fucked. Because anything else other than raw passion will look to your audience as nothing but contrived nonsense. Be genuine. Be sincere. Be honest.

So long as you remain true to yourself, those very passions will shine through. And if people don’t engage with someone who’s passionate about what they speak or write about then the chances are their heart isn’t in it anyway. And really, who’d want to chase after someone whose heart wasn’t in a relationship, for example? There’s nothing quite so demoralising.

So, with that in mind I reckon I’ve no problem revealing my intentions for that SCP role I’ve applied for. Because it’s my genuine hope that the thoughts, feelings and views I have on production and journalism and the BBC are what I would really like to share with other people. Maybe even people I work with.

And if I can’t do that at work – and as I’ve written before I’ve got a fairly good hunch I won’t be called upon to do that anyway – then there’s always this blog. Because if I caught the bug about genuinely fantastic live radio from Sandi Toksvig, isn’t it possible I might be able to communicate the same enthusiasm with a bunch of people to inspire others to make similarly exciting stuff?

It’s not that I’m someone who’s full of hot air. I’m not someone who’s lack of practical experience makes me someone who should be ignored.

Quite the opposite. Yes, people with editorial vision have the weight of their considerable careers to elevate them amongst their peers. But what about the audience? What about those people who sit in front of the TV, radio or constantly browse the interweb? Isn’t there a possibility that the audience actually knows what works and what doesn’t?

And isn’t it about time that the audience felt empowered instead of dismissed? Isn’t there something that production people (regardless of their status or the point they are in their careers) could learn from the audience to better the product we all want to churn out? Maybe that gaping chasm between production people and their audience isn’t quite so wide as we all thought?

That’s why I reckon there’s value in sharing why for example I enjoy a television or radio programme and why I don’t. There’s no point in saying ‘it’s just shit’ – that doesn’t help anyone. And it’s rude and offensive. Instead, there’s surely value in flagging up WHY something works for ME. Because maybe there’s a secret to be unearthed there. And if there is, maybe that secret is of value to someone else. Someone who needs to come up with a cracking idea. One that works.

So keep an eye out over the next few weeks (and – if things completely fail with that job application – beyond) for more stuff about great stuff I hear on TV and radio. Not just because I like the content, but instead with tentative illustrations as to why its good content too.

That all sounds quite pompous, doesn’t it? Maybe, I’m just a freak. A freak who should keep his precious opinions to himself?

You be the judge. Along with those assessing my job application right now.

If there’s an editorial proposition for this blog – my God I’ve been struggling to find one for years now – it’s reflecting my own interests. The things which get me annoyed. The things which make me reach for my keyboard and bash out some copy. And it appears that those things might just coincide with the very things the BBC is interested in. The very things which the division I work finds its raison d’etre.

One hand washes the other, doesn’t it? The moment I hear about the interview, I’ll let you know.

TV: 24 Hours in A & E


An inspiring piece of new-wave almost authored documentary making from Channel 4 and The Garden which undoubtedly reached a new height in this this episode featuring Sister Jen and Brian The Porter.

What I like about this is the reassuring lack of voiced narrative. The viewer watches visual actuality from King’s A&E department spliced with interview footage from the key players in the episode. That and considering the production nightmare which must surely ensue from using 70 fixed cameras in a hospital environment.

And it’s those interviews which provide the reality. Unlike the Guardian review of this particular episode flagging up Jen laughing about the guy looking down at his penis having been shot off, Jen’s undeniable ‘value’ to the piece is how despite her tough, uncompromising yet compassionate exterior she still displays the same vulnerability the rest of us experience day to day. She is amazing because of the work she does but also because she’s not that much different from the rest of us. One of the reasons – that combined with the fact that the filming is unobtrustive – that this series is so very compelling.

For me, it’s success is not down to production. More to do with vision. There’s a clear appreciation that what we the audience need to understand is the kind of people who work in A&E departments and what their views are given they face the most challenging and potentially disturbing situations the rest of us would cower from.

None more so than Brian, the porter (above). He was on shift during a multiple stabbing between two rival gangs. His message was telling. ‘Black men used to blame other people for their woes, but they need to fear each other’ (or words to that effect).

We’re not watching blood and gore in this series. We’re watching real people and the real passion they display for their work.

And the success behind that is an unswerving ability to find the right people to tell the right stories but not to let those contributors know they’re the stars so as to ensure the authenticity of their interview footage. And that takes nerve. Nerve not to resort to the usual methods to persuade someone to contribute. It is in a sense a measure of journalistic instinct.

And that’s the kind of stuff which can’t be taught, I don’t think. Just immerse yourself in it. In time it will seep into your own work. That’s my thinking.

24 Hours in A&E goes out on Channel 4 and is produced by The Garden.