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Countdown to the BAFTAs Podcast Transcript: Episode 1, Reality, Soap, Daytime

TV - Countdown to the BAFTAs Episode 2: Soap, Reality, Daytime

Alex: Hello and welcome to this celebration of television excellence, I'm Alex Zane, and this is Countdown to the BAFTAs, where in this series, stars industry insiders and expert voices join forces to discuss the nominees in the running for the 2024 BAFTA TV awards with P&O Cruises and the BAFTA Television Craft Awards.

And today we are looking at three big hitting categories: Soap Reality, and Daytime.


Scott: In 38 years, he's been shot into the chest, he's been held hostage more than once, run down by an ambulance, he's been plunged into a harbour whilst being in a car, and he's had a massive heart attack. He's also falling into cardiac arrest and he's been stabbed. And I think after all of that, in the words of Gemma Collins, “Get that fire exit door, I'm off”.



Alex: So what does it take to be nominated for a bafta? Stay tuned to find out.

Now, the BAFTA TV awards are voted for by industry professionals and that voting has now closed. So, anything we say and do on this podcast has no influence on the results, and crucially, we do not know who has won. With that in mind, joining me here at BAFTAs headquarters in Piccadilly, welcome to the show TV Critic and broadcaster Scott Bryan. And this morning's soap expert, the Queen of soaps herself, Sharon Marshall is here.

Scott, as well as being here today, you are also on the jury for the P&O Cruise's, Memorable Moment Award, coming up with a short list, which then goes out to a public vote. What was it like coming together to decide what makes it onto the list? Was it a heated debate?

Scott: I mean, it can be a heated debate, but also slightly surreal in the fact that you are debating, Victoria, and David Beckham in regard to that amazing moment where Victoria says about her working class upbringing, and David sort of pops in and says, “be honest!”. And then it's basically Victoria saying that she had a Rolls Royce, or her dad had a Rolls Royce, versus something like Ncuti Gatwa becoming the next Doctor. But I think it just shows the range of TV, just the fact there were nominees that were streaming and were on TV as well.

I think the only frustration I had is that I have a TV list of all the bizarre moments that happened in British TV that I collate throughout the year. And Mark Austin on Sky News, when he was passing to a fellow correspondent, Danny Shaw, instead of saying, “good evening, Danny”, he said, “good evening daddy”. [BOTH LAUGH] And I'm gutted that didn’t make the lists overall, but you know, you can’t have everything can you?

Alex: Oh, that reminds me of, uh, the, uh, oh my God, the ITV news reader, Trevor…

Scott: Trevor McDonald?

Alex: Trevor McDonald! When he meant to say the, uh, Kent's countryside… that's

Scott: Oh yeah we know where that’s going!


Scott: But nothing for me will ever beat when Nigella was nominated for “Meecro-wah-vay”, and just saying the words “BAFTA nominated Meecro-wah-vay” was the peak of my entire career.

Alex: Sharon, Soaps, uh, is one category we're gonna be discussing today. How important is it that soaps are recognised by BAFTA with their very own award?

Sharon: Well, I'm thrilled to see soaps there, year after year. I think there is still a little bit of industry snobbery where people go “…and soaps”. I always say: “A good soap storyline is more influential than any politician. A good soap storyline and a good soap character can change the world.” And that's what we've seen consistently. And if we look at the nominations that we've got today, we're covering, issues like, domestic violence. We're covering issues like male depression.

And I know that from watching those, you will have seen a spike in calls to the charities that have worked for these issues, people would've come forward to get help. And you watching this little program in the corner of your room, it's resonating with the audience. It's these characters that we've known and loved for decades. And yet of course we can't compete with Nigella’s “Meecro-wah-vay” [ALL THREE LAUGH] but that was a moment. And this is a consistent piece of art and craft that is on your television up to six times a week. In Emmerdale’s case, you know, it's that consistent programming that's been there for decades. It is a part of our life and they're uniquely British too.

Alex: I think that's a really interesting point. We're gonna talk about the power of soaps when we come to that category. So, let's discover the shows being celebrated at this year's BAFTA TV Awards.

Here are the nominees we're discussing today:


Loose Women and Men, ITV Studios, Daytime, ITV1.

Lorraine, ITV Studios, Daytime, ITV1.

Make it at Market, Flabbergast TV, Britbox, BBC One

Scam Interceptors, BBC Studio's Documentary Unit BBC One.


Banged Up, Shine TV. Channel Four.

Married at First Sight UK, CPL Productions, E4.

My Mum, Your Dad, Lifted Entertainment, ITV1

Squid Game. The Challenge. Studio Lambert, The Garden, Netflix.

And finally Soap:

Casualty, BBC Studios, BBC One,

EastEnders, BBC Studios, BBC One.

And Emmerdale, ITV studios, ITV1.


Alex:. So, that's your lineup for this episode. Let's dive straight into our first award category: Reality. Now, Scott, I know you've been loving a brand new series in 2023: My mom, your Dad, hosted by Davina McCall on ITV. So very quickly, for those who don't know, what is the format?

Scott: So essentially a lot of dating shows involve young people finding love. Nothing wrong with that, it's just a staple, but not so much on people who are older than maybe being in their mid-twenties. So, this is a show where people who may have been in relationships, maybe, um, they've lost a partner, maybe been through a divorce or having another time, um, another opportunity to find love. So they, uh, go on what they think is a normal conventional reality show. But of course, as all reality shows, they have a twist. They get guidance and help and encouragement from another room. Um, they think it's, relationship experts. It's actually their kids, uh, which you might think is initially quite cringe.

Alex: Yeah.

Scott: But it's actually touching and lovely because who else really knows your life inside and out more than your own children. And it's presented by Davina McCall. And this is, I think, a real passion project for her. She's been sort of advocating that there needs to be a show like this, uh, for quite a while, and that she would be the person to host it.

And you can really sense when she's presenting it that she's really invested in all the people participating, all the relationships involved. But also, this idea that, actually, you know, love and life doesn't end when like you're like 25, which can only be a good thing.

Alex: It's interesting that you mentioned how invested Davina is, and I think also, like you say, who is more invested in their parents' happiness than than children? Also, though, how important is the casting of the contestants, let's call 'em on a show like this, because really it lives and dies on where the viewer is also invested in the people who are on the TV

Scott: I mean, I think it is really important. I think what is being so great in reality in the course of maybe the last three to four years particularly, I think is that casting has become a bit more reflective of, of a general population at large.

There's nothing wrong with having, you know, certain types of people on TV, but when you see somebody who's has had your own life experience reflected on there, you can relate to them in a really big way. And that means that actually you see your life being shown on tv. And I think having like a real wider variety on ‘My Mum, Your Dad’, for people who have experienced so many different things can only really be a good thing.

Sharon: It's storytelling, isn't it? You’re right, the amount of craft that goes into these programs, the casting of it, the presenter, I remember Davina coming into the show This Morning to talk about it and she was so excited And what I love about these shows is there's a kindness to them as well. You can tell the passion is to try and match these people. And I celebrate that, moving away from the Simon Cowell’s who say “Let's get someone in and crush their dreams to the soundtrack of The Flumps”, as it usually was on these reality shows. It's actually reality shows with a purpose, and the purpose is: let's find love. And what better to celebrate.

Alex: Is it also quite savvy having slightly older contestants on this show? Because I think, 55 is now the average age of a linear TV viewer. So, in that respect, people kind of want to see people who they can relate to, who are their own age. So it's quite a clever thing to start casting a slightly more mature contestant.

Scott: I think you're right, but I think also, like one thing that’s been noticeable to me is that linear TV can still really pack a punch and it's still really sort of fighting its corner. Because what linear TV has that streaming doesn't necessarily have, is kind of the ability to create those water cooler moments where everyone's watching the same show at the same time, and create those national conversations on really big issues that are very UK specific. And I think ‘My Mum, Your Dad’ is a reflection of that. I think if it was on a streamer, it might have done really well, but sometimes it's about having that kind of resonance on a daily basis, which I think is really important. And sometimes you end up having a show that ends up becoming a sensation overnight, like this year with ‘Gladiators’. I think even the people involved in making that had no idea that it was gonna become this like 6, 7 million?! Phenomenal! [ALEX & SCOTT LAUGH]

Alex: Let's turn our attention to another brand new  series nominated this year in reality: Banged Up: Stars Behind Bars, on Channel Four. Uh, Sharon, I think you had a similar experience to me with this show, lured in by an amusing title only to find, this was a very different experience to what we'd expected.

Sharon: Well, I thought this was going to be a bit of a joke. Um, you looked at it and it's like, yep, you got stars of, um, EastEnders and, um, and Gogglebox pretending to be in a prison with pretend prisoners. And there were only had to stay in there for seven days. And I thought, oh, it's, it's just, it's a cheap version of ‘I'm a Celebrity’, isn't it? And then I watched it and realised, oh my God, it was actually such a powerful piece of storytelling and within minutes of going into the cell , because it was a real prison, and the prisoners that were in there were people who had served time that were coming back. People instantly fell into that pattern of survival – ‘how do I survive in a real prison?’. And I’m going to call him ‘Tractor Porn MP’…[ALL THREE LAUGH]…because…

Alex: Yeah you can call call Neil Parish that, sure

Sharon: Because he was clearly on the back of thinking “Oh, I've got a celebrity ticket and I'm going to change my image from ‘tractor porn MP’, and he didn't. What I thought was fascinating with him was that within his first episode, within about 10 minutes, he sat opposite this prisoner, learning how to make a blade. And he's saying, ‘Oh, this is how you slash someone's face’. And he was sort of going, ‘ah-ha, yeah, right’. And he was just sort of like ‘this is how you survive and in Westminster’, and you just thought, oh my God, is this really what goes on in Westminster? But I think it really showed people's characteristics so cleverly, and that Sid Owen sat down and you could see him having conversations with someone and saying, well, actually ‘my whole family has spent that time inside, my dad spent time inside and I didn't get to see him and I didn't want to go into the prison 'cause it was such a terrifying place to be’. And I actually watched it and it resonated so much with me, that hopelessness of the prisoners, the fact they came in, they said, well, why aren't we getting rehabilitated? We’re just in this cycle of re-offending. I know I'll be back - I'll be back and I'll be re-offending. Why is no one helping us? And then, and people turn around and say, well actually, are you sorry for the crimes that you've committed? Why are you in prison? What are you serving time for? And they talk so glibly about, ‘oh yeah, I took this guy, which turned out to be the wrong man, but I half drowned him and I beat him up.’ And there we go, blah, blah. Oh, it's lunchtime now. And I thought it was utterly fascinating, that is reality TV for me. Yeah.

Scott: It is quintessential Channel Four in a way, by the fact that it has a remit on sort of having these types of shows that have a bit of a social purpose behind them, rather than just being reality for reality’s sake. And then at first I was a bit confused, like you, with the whole concept of, okay, there's, people in jail, prisoners pretending to be prisoners, celebrities pretending to be celebrities. This is a very, like, unique environment, but actually you cannot really have cameras within prisons anyway. And I think having prisoners, giving them the opportunity to highlight what they've been through is something that you can only do in a reality form of its type, with it essentially being a bit of a setup, but actually in a way by having people talking about their lived experience and recreating that, it does kind of have a bit of an impact. And I think also with these celebrities taking part in it, it makes you as the viewer think about how you would be in their shoes. 'Cause I think naively, and think we all do naively, you go, ‘oh, I gotta last a week in prison! Oh, like, this is totally fine!’. And about 10 minutes in you're seeing Sid Owen rocking back and forth and you're like, no, actually, I really couldn't do that at all.

Alex: You know, it really earns the “: Stars Behind Bars”, as I was watching Tory MP Johnny Mercer look on as a prisoner removed a packet of cigarettes from his rear.


And I was just like, wow. But I mean, I'm making light of it, but like you say, it is quite a harrowing at times, critique and examination of the prison system.

Sharon: I thought he came across very well actually in the way that he spoke to people and made people face…

Alex: This is Johnny Mercer?

Sharon: Yeah

Alex: Yeah, he did

Sharon: [continuing] and just the way that he talked to people and said, well, you know, why are you here? What is it you've done? It made them actually face what they had done. Yeah, it sort of sat with me for ages afterwards, but, uh, yes, I shall be avoiding crime! I don't think, I don't,


Scott: Good to know!


Sharon: There you go, it served its social purpose!

Scott: [mocking] Before then, really into crime. Now, swerving it like mad!

Sharon: Cheers Sid Owen!


Alex: [sarcastically mocking] I haven’t shop lifted in two weeks!


Um, so the one question I was left with on that was, do you think they knew what they were letting themselves in for when those celebrities signed up? Because I was watching it going, why, why on Earth? I mean, in Sid Owen's case, he wanted to experience what his family had experienced, but the others - did they know? Because the prisoners were, like you say, these ex-cons and they were told to act like they did when they were in prison and they went for it. I mean, it was quite a terrifying environment to witness.

Scott: I mean, yeah, I think when you sign up to a TV show, I think like normally, like when you're watching an episode of ‘Bake Off’ or whatever, or a Celebrity bake off, they're like, ‘Oh, I haven't watched the show before!’ and you’re like, no, you've been training for like four months and you've seen absolutely every single scene. But of course, with this being the first show of its type or really of its kind, I think yeah, you're probably signing that release form being a bit like ‘la la la la la la la la….book a holiday!’.

Sharon: yeah, I think the guy at a Gogglebox just thought, ‘oh, it's gonna be just like normal’. Listen, the only reality show I ever did was Celebrity Fat Club. So, you know, I think I'd stick with that one. I'll stick with the diet show. Let's not go into prison.

Alex: Well, on this subject of Gogglebox - I heard that this is how you watch another of the nominated shows, isn't it Sharon? Married at First Sight, you watch through Gogglebox.

Sharon: Yeah. I have to confess, because I have to watch so many…‘I have to’, it is a joy and an honour and a privilege to watch so many episodes of television! But, um, yeah, I do watch Gogglebox to see what other extras I should watch and yeah, Married at First Sight. When they see each other for the first time, that sort of ‘eeeerr!’ moment, that cringe or that joy and then that moment shortly after when they realize just the person they have actually married.

Alex: Yeah, well it’s in its eight series now! And I was saying to Sharon earlier, before you arrived, Scott, I still am shocked at the concept of the show.

But then the discussion was, is it actually a real marriage? I always assumed it was a real marriage. Do you know? I’m putting you on the spot here.

Scott: It's, from my understanding, these marriages are not legally binding.

Alex: Right.

Scott: I mean, I guess this whole sort of thing of like, can you find ‘the one’, by being matched with them, and having never seen them before the day you get married? To me, after you see the way it sometimes goes, the answer is quite evidently ‘no’. But I like how like unashamedly reality the show is.

Sharon: Mm-Hmm.

Scott: I mean, it been so many episodes, so many relationships, such eternal optimism that if you just stick with it, it might end up being okay. And, you know, sometimes it actually does! I think it is unashamedly itself and I think that's why it's had such a popularity in the UK. And also, SO many episodes!

Sharon: Mm,

Scott: So many episodes, like it really does feel like, you know, how much like I look at my re relationships and the ups and downs and I go probably, well maybe about 15 minutes of one episode. Like, to be honest, let alone 34 episodes and one series.

Alex: I was watching this, uh, season that's been nominated and one of the contestants was like ‘I really want a Chelsea boy. That's all I want. I just want a Chelsea boy. That's, that's who I like’. And the relationship experts, the marriage experts, put her with the polar opposite of a Chelsea boy. And their argument on the show was like, it's never worked with Chelsea boys, so we put you with this guy. But you do put your cynical visor on. You go, ‘Is it just 'cause it makes great tv?’

Scott: But part of your brain does always go, ‘oh, maybe, maybe they're onto something’. And what I always love is that, if they do get on together, sometimes the relationship experts come across with the whole ‘Yeah, this is totally planned! This is what we wanted from the very beginning! Oh my God, like this is all down to us!’. That's what I like about this show

Sharon: I think it's at the Nation. We just really enjoy good gawp, don't we?

Scott: Mm-Hmm.

Sharon: We always like to go and have a little, if we could, we'd have a nosy through it next door, like ‘What's going on there?’ So it's the closest thing for us. It's that peeking through the curtains.

Alex: So many in the tele business were interested to know how Netflix's Squid Game: The Challenge would fare, obviously based on the Korean drama. The hook on that show being that contestants actually die, something that as of yet isn't allowed on tv. So, Scott, the fact that we're talking about it, would suggest so, but did they pull it off?

Scott: I mean, I think arguably they did. I mean, they made probably most likely the most expensive reality show of all time, where they recreated for challenges from Squid Game, minus the death. Um, but had this huge cash prize. But also I think somehow managed to pull off a storytelling feat, which is - how on earth can you do a reality program with more than 400 contestants? Particularly that a good half of them leave in the initial, like, 15 seconds, essentially.

Alex: It’s astonishing

Scott: Yeah, which is astonishing. And I think the way that they were still able to cast really interesting stories with all of the participants, and then sometimes you would be introduced to them very early on. You would be like, ‘oh, okay, here's my face! Oh, they're dead’.

Alex: Amazing though that they managed to make that work. I mean, just to add some actual stats today, it was like you say, over 456 players competing to win $4.56 million dollars, the largest single cash prize in reality television history.

But you are, as the producer of a show, trying to create stories - a narrative -, to get viewers invested. But you'd start by filming talking heads with one person and, as you said, gone in the first challenge. And so you had quite a weird experience for a reality show where suddenly a new face would pop up and you're immediately asked to get invested in someone else.

Scott: But it just somehow really works well. And I think it's made by Studio Lambert, who also do Race Across the World. I see them as like really being strong at Reality TV. They're really good at formats, they're really good at knowing exactly what will work and what won't work with the audience. And I think when they sort of realized that they couldn't have the exact replica of Squid Game, like, you know, they, wouldn't be able to incorporate some of the themes within that program. But then they thought, okay, how can we make this like one of our own reality programs, but also on the scale that viewers would expect for such a massive Netflix hit. And they managed to make it work and look seamless. I mean, that's the thing about it. It just looked incredible. But also, the cast members...was it like somebody from Gladiators was in it or something?! Or from a different reality show? And before you know it they’re dead!


Scott: So you never got the chance to find out.

Alex: Yeah, they did. Like you said, they changed a few things from the original TV show. I will say. It beggars’ belief. But watching contestants play a giant version of Battleships, is somehow thrilling and better than the film ‘Battleships’. It was really quite a unique show.

Netflix staggered the release of Squid Game rather than dropping it all in one go as they traditionally do. What does that approach signify?

Scott: I think it shows that kind of the binging, sort of era, that we are quite accustomed to is maybe, perhaps, coming to a bit of an end? I mean, that is a bit of a frustration for people, but I think it's just the fact that now, if you stagger shows over a longer period of time, it makes it stay within the kind of the public consciousness for perhaps a little bit longer.

Because I think when streamers were coming into the market, they were trying to sort of get growth as much as physically possible. And now I think it's trying to retain our interest for as long as possible. So, you started to see it with not just reality shows, but also with shows like Bridgerton, you know, maybe having a part one, then a part two. And you are still getting groups of episodes at the same time.

I don't think we're ever gonna get to the case of, oh, we're only gonna be launching a show every Monday at 9:00 PM. Although some streamers, like Apple, tend to do it at least once a week. But I think we are now starting to get to a bit of a process now. Where, it's like, ‘here's three…you've had your fill…


Scott: …don't yell at us!’

Alex: And on that note, let's leave Reality behind and head into our next category, the award for Soaps! Casualty, EastEnders, Emmerdale, all up for the Soap award. So, it's the portion of the episode that I hand over the show almost wholesale to the Queen of Soaps - Sharon Marshall!


Sharon, we are talking about Soaps throughout the year of 2023. Let's start with EastEnders. What were the big storylines during the past year?

Sharon: Well, yeah, I have to admit a huge amount of bias as I talk now because, I am on the writing team for EastEnders, but I was on the writing team for Emmerdale as well, just before. Although I can't take any credit for any of the storylines that are going on for the nomination period.

The big story, was ‘The Six’, which was a secret that was as kept for over a year in the writing room, which I think in itself was a huge phenomenon to they, they've done secrets before in the writing room, which, you know, ‘who killed Lucy’, which even the writers, (I was on the writing team then at the time) and even we didn't know.

Alex: No spoilers!


Sharon: Yeah, [sarcastically] 10th anniversary coming up now if you don't know! Yeah, this was a secret that was kept for a year. So that in itself, was a huge feat of the incredibly clever writing and story team over at EastEnders. We flashed forward almost a year into the future, and we knew that, a murder was going to be committed by one of the six women. I always think a good soap storyline is about the people and it's about the characters. And what this did was it opened all the characters and put a spotlight on these characters and these women - the matriarchs. It's always women that lead the soap storyline.

And it threw a spotlight on all of them and what their battles were at home and who they were fighting against. So that was one. And then Cindy coming back from, uh, from the dead of course, as well. She was in witness protection.

Alex: Let's focus on that flash forward that you mentioned.

Um, a coupled with, I think it was 2022s 1970s episode. These are new things that EastEnders is trying out. I think this is actually the first time they've ever done a flash forward in the history of the show. Is that because soaps are now needing to try new things to remain competitive in the TV landscape, what with less people watching linear TV?

Sharon: I think it's a thing of creating event TV moments, and it is a gamble. Um, but the soap is watched in two ways. It goes up online first, and then you've also have the, um, the traditional viewing, which is in front of the, the box set. So we're competing on both those fronts. I think when you've got somebody watching online, you need to hold the viewer. For that whole time, because they're sat on the tube or they're sat in the gym and are they gonna flick off you and go onto something on Netflix. So you need to write the genre in a way that is compelling and holds them.

And it's about doing story lining in a way that will keep the viewers coming back, dropping those clues over a long period of time. And people didn't get it. It was a genuine surprise on Christmas Day, when it was unveiled, which you could see by looking at social media, people were talking about it.

And it's that thing you talked about getting this conversation, getting people watching the show, which don't forget, has been on telly since the eighties! These shows have been on for decades. And it is about finding a way of telling those stories that keeps people coming back to them, which it clearly is.

If you look at the ratings of any week, you're gonna see all the soaps up there in the top five, people still want to hear from these characters.

Scott: I mean, I found the jump forward astonishing. Just because we didn't have a warning that it was gonna happen. It was just random. Was it in April?

Sharon: Yeah

Scott: And it was like Christmas Day. Like what?


[Scott continues] And I love how all of the cast lent into it as well because there was another award ceremony during the year and they all came dressed up in the outfits that they were -

Sharon: In the Colours

Scott: - going to be wearing

Sharon: Yeah.

[Scott continues] On Christmas day. And I think the fact that they lent into it, and the whole of EastEnders, the whole year themed into it. I mean, I think it really helps, it sort of keep into the conversations that everyone was having around soaps for the rest of the year because it was all building up to that particular event.

And I think to answer your question, yes, I think soaps are having to adapt and really quite quickly, just because when we get home now from work, if we're working during the day and we turn on TV. We're more likely, just by default, to go onto to BBC iPlayer or go onto Netflix or the others, than we are to go to from channel one and be scrolling upwards.

And that is of course what soaps are. So you're now starting to see soaps maybe doing, sort of releases for the whole week, at the start of the week, or Monday maybe. Um, sort of having sort of episodes, available at the start of the day or available to binge. But also, I think having those storylines that are sort of being quite dramatic to keep that conversation, those water cooler moments going. And also have those little moments that really resonate on social media.

I think the team would be really good at that. I think there was one, you [referring to Sharon] will be able to know this a lot better than I do, when somebody was having a baby called Charlie.

Sharon: Oh yeah.

Scott: And they said, oh yes. Isn't that in relation to

Sharon: Uncle Charlie

Scott: And she goes,  no, Charlie XCX!


 Scott: obviously!

Sharon: It always amazes me what actually ends up, sort of, trending. So I spoke to, um, Adam, who plays Ian Beal the other day, and of course he's got the ‘I've nothing left!’ which is, there's a whole black market there in mugs and t-shirts and everything. And he goes, well, that's great, but it was the moment when I was crying over the death of my daughter.


 [Sharon continues] Can we just bear that in mind! But it’s just…

Scott: Context is important isnt it!

Sharon: But it's interesting what you were saying about that move to digital. I mean, Hollyoaks has gone digital only, um, but that, that in itself has brought new challenges and that production costs have to then be cut. So, they're having to go through lots of cuts at the moment and in cast and production, it’s a very difficult time for them at the moment. But then you saw Neighbours, and how quickly Amazon swooped on that and bought it up and it's absolutely flying now. And Harold Bishop's back and all is well, with the world.

Scott: That’s true, yeah.

Alex: Let's talk Emmerdale. You mentioned this at the start, Sharon, it's tackled the subject of male depression over the last year. How much do soaps lead the way when it comes to raising awareness of subjects and issues like that? Or how much are they reacting to what is already in the public consciousness, and elevating it?

Sharon: Soap's are character led - the best stories that work are always character a character led storyline rather than an issue led one. Yeah, inspiration can come from anywhere. We retell Shakespeare an awful lot as well!


 Sharon: And the Bible. We take a lot of stories from the Bible

Alex: Really?

Sharon: Yeah. Yeah. And, I refashion that in a, so, I mean, so if you do a storyline that tackles the theme of suicide calls will go up to the Samaritans and the Andy’s Man Club was the big storyline for Emmerdale. Paddy, a male character who's normally the life and soul and incredibly jolly, and his life had fallen apart and you saw him go through a male depression storyline.

And then he went and they had a wonderful episode, which was based around Andy's Man Club and actually, um, which is an organisation just encouraging men to talk. And they actually set an episode around one of their groups and calls. Then men came forward, men started talking to one another.

And you think, well, actually it is having an impact. People are coming forward and that is the power of a soap, that it can get through. Because there's a man, a character, that you've known and loved for decades who's just like me. I see elements oh him in me. And then that gives me the confidence hopefully to pick up the phone.

Emmerdale at the moment's doing, a domestic violence storyline with a character called Bell, who's husband Tom, on the surface, childhood sweethearts on paper. Everything is absolutely wonderful. He came back into the show after a gap. But then what we've seen on screen is that he's got her under surveillance. He's watching her. On cameras. And it is been done so well. What they do is they will write the scripts, and then they look back as it and say, hang on, what’s this? We've had a case study that's happened around this. This is what might happen in the storyline. We'll talk to people who are brave enough to tell us what's happened. And then we take their stories. And yes, you're writing a drama, but it's always at the back of your mind. These are real people's real stories that we're dealing with. So you deal with those with the utmost care.

Alex: You mentioned casualty, Sharon, uh, very quickly. It's been talked about a lot this year, in 2024. Because obviously, Charlie has left casualty. Derrick Thompson, who plays Charlie, left the show in March this year. You thought they were gonna kill him, didn't you?

Sharon: I thought he was dead.


[Sharon continues] Yeah, but that man's been shot so many times. I should know. He is Teflon, isn't he?

Scott: I've got a list here.

Sharon: Go on.

Scott: In 38 years, he's been shot into the chest, he's been held hostage more than once, run down by an ambulance, he's been plunged into a harbour whilst being in a car, and he's had a massive heart attack. He's also falling into cardiac arrest and he's been stabbed. And I think after all of that, in the words of Gemma Collins, “Get that fire exit door, I'm off”.

Sharon: [LAUGHTER]

Scott: But he is, I think the reason why people really do love him is that he's that kind of ‘steadying the ship’. He's seen everything, but he's also that reliable character and he's such a trusted name and face on that program.

He's kind of like the north star of everything that happens in casualty because he's always been that person who's been there for everybody. So I feel that that's why when somebody decides to leave, it does like...

Sharon: …it gets you! Of course, of course you cry. And I think Casualty has been very clever about it. It must be about three years ago now.

They put a shout out for new writers who actually had direct medical experience of real life. And I think that really comes through. You can see there is that realism to the stories that are being told there. And they did something that was quite interesting in a sort of reportage style episode, which was, now I'm not an advocate for this, but the actors were allowed to improvise their lines as a writer. I'd hesitate to suggest that. [Sharon laughs] Um, but it was incredibly powerful and felt incredibly real. And I think it's about these shows. There is that strength and that craft there that they've been on screen for decades.

How'd you keep the viewers coming back? How do you keep people talking? And it's through these wonderful characters, but also sometimes taking that experimentation. Let's try new formats, let's try new things, but still having it quintessentially ‘our soaps’.

Alex: Finally, for this episode, let's talk about the Daytime award. Now this award can feature such a mix of genres. Scott, can you try to explain what makes daytime a hit, especially in this day and age? Has it had to evolve?

Scott: I think daytime has, just because our viewing habits have changed, but also daytime I think is so crucial for the TV ecosystem because it's the launchpad for shows that then go on to primetime, like Repair Shop I think, but also with talent too.

You know, having that familiarity with the viewers and then moving on to prime time with that. And I also think it serves like a really important public service broadcasting remit. I think, uh, there can be a snobbiness with Daytime TV of thinking, oh, it's just people sort of selling things at a market and just going round sort of, slightly, not as exciting car boot sales, but actually no. You do get a real range of informative, useful advice that you don't really see anywhere else on TV. Everything from how to make sure that you're not gonna get frauded to health advice to changes to your own mental health and wellbeing particularly. So, it does have a very vital, important role to play

Alex: Uh, one of the shows that's nominated ITV’s Lorraine, it's first BAFTA  Nomination in it’s 40 years on air

Sharon: Isn't that mad? Isn't that wild?

Alex: Yeah.

Scott: I mean, well, she is already gonna get an award anyway

Alex: Absolutely right. Yeah. She's, with a Special Award by BAFTA, recognizing her outstanding contribution to television - over 40 years. Sharon…

Sharon: she's a treasure!

Alex: Well, that's what I was gonna say.

Sharon: She really is

Alex: …why has she been such a staple on our screens for so long?

Sharon: It's not an easy job being the helm of a daytime show because the amount of subjects that she would deal with just on an average show, the light and the shade, and being able to definitely handle I, live as well. And to be that researched, that on her game, and I can say for Lorraine and of course for Loose Women that I know is nominated as well, they are exactly the same backstage. And that she'll walk off the show and come out and stand in the green room and it's like watching another episode.

You have to sit there and go, um, I am actually watching telly, it's Lorraine talking. But I'm so pleased that they have been recognized and have been nominated because I just think the craft and the skill that goes into that, not just the person who's at the forefront of the show, but the teams behind it, as you say, keeping it relevant, keeping those campaigns going.

I go to most ladies’ doors now, and they have all got a sticker on the back which says ‘check your boobs’. That's all Lorraine. That's all Lorraine's doing in Lorraine's campaigns. And they do genuinely save lives and change lives. And as you say, Daytime is looked on with a snobbishness, but they are a cornerstone of British TV

Alex: Lorraine and Loose Women. Obviously, they've been on air some time. Uh, and in fact the only new show in the nominations is BBC One's, uh, as I call it, a ‘warm duvet’ of a program: Make it at Market,

Scott: Particularly if you are at home ill under the duvet!

Sharon: [LAUGHTER]

Alex: Yes,

Scott: on a day off watching Daytime TV. So that sort of works, doesn't it?

Alex: It's where amateurs are guided into turning their artistic pursuits into a professional business. But it does have some pedigree, doesn't it, Scott? It's a spinoff.

Scott: It is. It is a spinoff. Um, was it a spinoff of the Repair Shop?

Alex: Yeah

Scott: isn't it? Yeah. Yeah, because it’s highlighting and celebrating those people who spend their time putting their work into craft, but with the spin that actually you can turn that into a career, make that into something that you can be really proud of, either as a side hustle or, or into something that you can then kind live off.

And also, something that I think is really underrated about this country is the fact that we've so many different pursuits that people love to be participating in and really love sort of like getting involved in either, putting something back together or, bringing something into life, and you get to see the enjoyment of people following their passions. It's just lovely.

Alex: Yeah. It's, kind of like an anti-Dragons Den isn’t it?

Scott: It is! Yes.

Sharon: Yes

Alex: Where the professionals are actually helping, not critiquing, these people, trying to turn it into a business. I said earlier, I think the era of ‘mean TV’ is behind us. This is a really positive show, isn't it? Which it seems is a common trope with a lot of Daytime TV. They tend to be quite positive in their outlook.

Scott: Yeah. No, I agree. I mean, I think it's also the case of refining and improving rather than criticizing and sort of brushing away. And I think also how the people involved really listen to the feedback that they then receive, and you get to see them build their craft as well. I think it's just, it's heartwarming.

Sharon: Mmm

Scott: It's lovely to see. The reason why Repair Shop kicked off in the first place is just that you get to see people sort of realize how much love they have for putting things back together again. But also, people who might have the most niche jobs imaginable, who spend their entire lives working on particular projects, bringing something back into life. And then the impact that can have on somebody else once they receive that. So of course it makes perfect sense that the next logical step is – ‘okay, how can you actually try to make a bit of cash from it to sustain itself as a career?’

Sharon: Well, I think my lovely Denise Robertson, our departed Agony Aunt on This Morning once said to me, the audience is the most important thing, and that's the audience you need to think of. And I think when I look at all the nominations against all the categories, what I'm loving here is that we've got this warm television and it's teaching us something and we're gaining something. And it's such a positive list of nominations here, and it's television that really does seem to be making a difference.

And as you say, Alex, it's not ‘mean TV’. It's this warmth and this kindness, which is, I think, what we all want. We all want that little bit of sunshine coming from the corner of the room or the phone screen or however you're watching your television now.


Scott: The warm rays coming from our phone screen!

Sharon: [sarcastically] the warm wrays of the six people murdering in Eastenders!

But there's love there. It's about that little bit of sunshine from our telly, which, which I think is wonderful that we're celebrating.

Alex: Yeah, and it certainly fits with the final nominee in the, in the Daytime category. Another sort of spinoff. It was inspired by a 2020 episode of Panorama featuring the ethical hacker, Jim Browning - Scam Interceptors. It's kind of like a 21st century Cook Report, helping stop people being scammed by these awful people ringing them up and promising this, promising that. It's the shows’ second nomination. Another great example of, as you said, Scott, of Daytime TV giving advice, helping people, in this case, the viewer.

Scott: And of course, scams are affecting so many more people than you might think. I think you just usually assume, oh, it must be certain types of people who just, you know, uh, receive phone calls and go along with it.

But no, all it can take is just clicking on a dodgy link or sort of clicking through, or just doing one sort of small mistake that can ricochet. And I think with this program, it highlights just all of the ways that people have managed to scam in the digital age and that actually it can be just through something rather sort of really specific, but also under the radar. And I think time and time again, they pop up about what scams to look out for now and it's always different.

Alex: It's really interesting, isn't it? Because, you know, you see how vulnerable some people are because like, you know, a lot of us would get a phone call and it would be a scam and you'd go shut up and hang up.

And then you see people who are obviously perhaps aren't as savvy, aren't aware that this is going on, who get lured in by these very, very slick con artists. And you suddenly go, gee, that's, awful. Thank goodness a show like this exists to highlight that.

Scott: What I also love is that recently, this is a side note, I got a text message from someone that said, ‘Hi, this is your dad, I've got a new number’. So I immediately go, oh, this is obviously a scam! And I texted the other number, it didn't go through and then they rang and said, no, that was actually me!


[Scott continues]…Goodness sake, like this is the one thing that we get told all the time. Goodness sake!

Sharon: you send him some money?


Scott: Yeah, after that he was like, can you wire transfer me or leave loads of cash on the radiator at Victoria station? But like I didn't follow through with that.


Alex: I haven't paid my electricity bill for six months 'cause I'm convinced it's a scam.


[Alex continues]…That is us almost done for this episode, but before I let you leave BAFTA H, I'm asking you and indeed every guest my regular quickfire questions.

So, Scott, you're gonna have to be careful with this one, considering your role on the jury. But, what was your most memorable moments from the past year in TV in general?

Scott: In general. I mean, probably Happy Valley, just that. It was the culmination of no spoilers and a decade's worth of storylines. And I think, the strength of Happy Valley has always been that. It is, yes, about the police, yes, about a community, but it's really about family and just having that sort of play out over a kitchen table. And the highest of highest stakes, sensational TV.

Alex: Sharon?

Sharon: I've gotta say The Six. I mean, I know it's, it's all home turf and all that, but I got myself in such a state of paranoia being in on it, but then thinking, well, maybe I'm not, and maybe everyone's lying to me that I was tuning in Christmas day with everyone else, just to see if it really was the person I thought it was.

Alex: Okay. And the final question of this episode, what are you watching and loving right now on TV, Sharon?

Sharon: Oh, I've gotta say my soaps, haven't I?

Scott: I've got two, I've got Blue Lights. Which recently came back on BBC One. I think just the way that it looks at policing in Northern Ireland. And also Baby Reindeer sort of debuted

Alex: Oh I haven’t watched this!

Scott: It’s just a sensational show, it looks into and starts with stalking. But then it manages to unpack this really sensitive, but also incredibly well handled story around sort of pain and grief and trying to move on with your life. And I think it just spills out beautifully,

Sharon: That and a bit of married at first sight.


Scott: Hey, also high stakes. Edge of your seat TV!

Sharon: Yeah.

Alex: All about light and shade. Light and shade!

And that is us done. My thanks to Scott Bryan and Sharon Marshall. Hit follow right now to get the inside take on the rest of the TV Nominees up for contention in 2024. We'll be dropping new episodes twice a week, leading up to the BAFTA TV awards with P&O Cruises on the 12th of May on BBC One and BBC iPlayer hosted this year by Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan.

You won't wanna miss it. Thanks also to the producer of this series, Matt Hill at Rethink Audio. I'm Alex Zane. This was a BAFTA production. I'll see you again as the countdown to the 2024 BAFTA TV Awards continues.