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Countdown to the BAFTAs Podcast Transcript: Episode 2, Live Coverage & Sports Coverage

TV - Countdown to the BAFTAs Episode 2: Live Events & Sports

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, it's all things Live, as we look at the shows that are ‘appointment to view’, covering the biggest events and sporting fixtures of the last year, expertly crafted by the best TV makers and beamed straight into your eyeballs.


Cat: An old school friend of mine was Match of the Day editor for many years, and he was saying that they had filmed the Women's Football for literally 25 years. And they weren't able to convince the controllers to give it the airtime that it now gets.


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, we welcome to the show, Cat Lewis, CEO, and Exec Producer at Television Company, Nine Lives at Cat. You've made a fair few live shows over the years, including the legendary era of This Morning with Richard and Judy.

You've paced around behind the scenes. What is the mood like for a production team, knowing there's no retakes, that this is it?

Cat: I think what really works is when you as a producer, kind of recognize that what happens in studio, and even when things go wrong, perhaps, particularly when things go wrong, is what it's all about. And that's what the audience at home love. So, people used to love it when Rich and Judy used to start arguing and bickering, you know, because they felt they were getting a real insight into their marriage.

So, we used to have a phrase which is, ‘tape time is dead time’, when we were making This Morning, 'cause it was all about what we could do in studio.

I remember for example, we were doing ostrich meat at one point a few years ago, when it first started to be farmed in the UK, and we got ostriches in the studio, which was kind of chaotic and a bit difficult, but you know, it just made it come to life. And I remember my first job as a series producer was actually before that on an ITV program called Upfront. It actually broke the careers of Steve Cogan and Caroline Hearn, who started as comics on the show, but I remember once the viewing, uh, figures had dropped, so I decided, right, we're going to do Naturism and we're gonna trail it.

So we literally took a couple to a beach, and filmed them, kind of jogging along the front by the sea and put that out, kind of repeatedly, and got this huge number of viewers tuning in for a debate. And halfway through the show, literally about 25 people came into the studio totally naked.

I mean, some people that were in the audience actually got up and walked out, and I was in the gallery and I remember, I was a young series producer, but I remember literally sinking to my knees in the gallery because the shot that I could see was a guy talking and a woman's boobs either side of his head.

And I thought, I cannot believe we're doing this. But the next day, walking around Manchester, everybody was talking about it, and we got 68% of the audience share.

Alex: Wow! So joining Cat on my panel today. Welcome to the show, Boyd Hilton, entertainment editor at Heat Magazine, contributing editor at Empire Magazine and co-host of the Pilot TV podcast. Boyd, some of the most watched programs in the history of UK TV have been live. Is that simply down to quite often the scale of the events being covered or is there something specific about live TV that connects with audiences?

Boyd: I think it's a bit of both. I think, you know, inevitably, huge sporting events, like England football matches always get a massive, gigantic audience.

And when you get the end of the year, I'm always fascinated, because you get the list of the ratings of the highest rated shows of the year and you have to almost discount any football match involving England. Because that will be the highest rated show of the year, pretty much. And certainly even in any tournament, World, Cup or Euro Championship or whatever.

And by the way, that's nothing against Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, it's just England has the biggest pull, audience pull. And those gigantic sporting events, similarly, the Olympics, always gets huge, huge audiences. But then it can go to events as well, you know, Royal events, Royal weddings. I have to say sadly, the death of Queen Elizabeth was a massive, hugely watched event, obviously. So I think people like to be abreast of those huge big cultural moments that are often captured live on TV. And that's all about the power of Live TV, I think.

Can I just say though, I did interview Richard and Judy on the set of This Morning once, and um, what was amazing about it was that I went to see them on set of the show, [referring to Cat] I dunno if you were working on it at that point. And, they insisted that they showed me on the show, like live!


So they said, ‘we're being interviewed by this lovely guy from Heat Magazine and here he is’. Boy! And I was like, ‘oh my God, that's amazing’. So, I actually appeared briefly on This Morning, live, back in the day. One of my greatest achievements ever! Sorry, I thought I just had to mention it!

Alex: No, no, it is fine. I mean, not that this is a competition, but I've been on This Morning with Richard and Judy.

Boyd: Of course you have!

Alex: No, actually it was, uh, Richard and Judy, The Tea Time Show on Channel 4.

Boyd: Ah, the Channel 4 days. Oh, I was on that a lot.

Alex: [Jokingly] Yeah, yeah. I was on that a lot too. Loads of times in fact!

Boyd: And This Morning does go down like a kind of, you know, daring route. I mean, recently. they did a feature on sex aids. You know, erotic toys, whatever you want to call them, and I remember watching it. Dermot had his head in his hands, you know, with Alice Hammond, et cetera. And it was, again, fantastic TV. The best Live TV that you can get, I would say.

Alex: I mean, where is the line with something like that? Because obviously, to use the example that you gave about having Naturists on the show - you do want to sort of push boundaries, but also, you know, you had people walking out. Do you run the risk of alienating the core audience who are like, this is not what I tune into the show for?

Cat: We always used to say as producers that what you can do on This Morning, you can’t really do again until after nine o'clock, post watershed, because we always assumed that children were at school. And so, you know, we would give a warning if there was anything too risqué. But, on the whole, you know, those programs where we had a couple trying out Viagra when that first became popular, going back a while. But we did used to tackle those kind of subjects.

Alex: And on that note, let's discover the shows being celebrated at this year's BAFTA TV Awards. These are the nominees in the Live categories we are discussing today:

Live event coverage.

The Coronation Concert, BBC Studios, BBC One,

Eurovision Song Contest 2023, BBC Studios, BBC One

and the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, BBC Studios, BBC One

Sports Coverage

Cheltenham Festival: Day One, ITV Sport, ITV1

Match of the Day Live, FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, IMG, BBC One

and Wimbledon 2023: Men's final, BBC Sport, Wimbledon Broadcast Services, BBC One.


I'm sure many listening to those nominees will remember where they were when they were watching those events.

Let's kick off with Sports and Match of the Day. The Women's World Cup 2023. You both joined the 15 million people who watched the final when it aired live on BBC one and Boyd. Now obviously you're a huge football fan.

Boyd: Yeah.

Alex: Arsenal.

Boyd: Yeah.

Alex: Putting that love of Arsenal and football to one side, what was it that made you, like so many others, tune into this event?

Boyd: Well, I think it was a real, um, tipping point for Women's football, this World Cup, I mean, I think over the last, I would say five years-ish, I think Women's Football has completely taken off. To the extent where, I'm not gonna bang on about Arsenal (!)…

Alex: You can bang on about Arsenal!

Boyd:…you regularly get 60,000 sellout crowds for Arsenal Women's Team, which you would never have got five years ago. And I think that's because the audience has got to know the Women's players better. It is all about kind of stars and you can identify with, people whose stories you get to know. And so we got to know the Women's team, the England women's team Mary Earps, the goalkeeper that became very famous and the whole issue about, were people gonna sell her kit? You know, that became a big new story, things like that, which obviously I'm sure wasn't great for her at the time.

But those turned into fascinating narratives to use that, pretentious word, and you just get more and more into the personalities. And so that, I think that was part of it, that we got to know the England Women's team. They did brilliantly obviously, in the Euros a couple of years before the this, then they got to the World Cup final. So it just felt like they're getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And then they get to the World Cup final and it's a huge event, against Spain, probably the best team in the world. And it just couldn't have been more exciting really.

Alex: It is easy to forget just how relatively new Women's football is to mainstream TV. What did you make of the presentation and the coverage?

Cat: I think what's absolutely brilliant is that it's treated now in exactly the same way as the Mn's World Cup, which is absolutely right.

But interestingly, an old school friend of mine, Paul Armstrong, was Match of the Day editor for many years, and he was saying that they had filmed the Women's football for literally 25 years. And they weren't able to convince the controllers to give it the airtime that it now gets. Because this is where our public service broadcasters can compete, and more than compete, they can really kind of, hold their own against the streamers. Which is so important because it's when the whole country's unified, the whole country comes together and television serves such an important purpose in doing that.

Alex: The coverage was hosted by the brilliant Gabby Logan, Boyd, initially from the UK. Then they moved out to Sydney as the lioness progressed. Maybe this was just me, but I certainly felt she offered a slightly more passionate presenting style than I sometimes see from other sports broadcasters. There seems to be a kind of almost practice nonchalance about the way these events are covered, whereas Gabby just seemed really involved. Did you think that?

Boyd: Yeah, I think that's totally true. But I kind of got to know Gabby a bit over the years. I did a marathon walk with her a few years ago. Just name dropping casually! [Alex laughs] And what you see is what you get with Gabby. She's a hugely enthusiastic person, and she has that infectious quality to which you're, I think, referring, and she won't tone down her enthusiasm just because she's presenting a huge event.

In fact, it'll be a key part of the fact that she's presenting the event. So, she would've been incredibly excited as an absolute pioneer of women's sports broadcasting. And, you know, she's a brilliant broadcaster, per se, for all kinds of event, Olympics et cetera. But I thought that her presenting of that particular event was huge because she was thrilled. You could tell she was thrilled that this was happening, that England got to the final, it was completely tense because, of the two very evenly matched teams. And I just think she captured the whole thrill of the thrill of that spectacle and the whole thrill of the event. And because that's who she is, that she does get very, very excited about this stuff.

And, and I think you're right. I think probably some of the more traditional male broadcasters might just try and be, I dunno, in heavy quotes “professional”, but I don't think there's anything unprofessional about what Gabby was doing. It was just infused with that massive, massive enthusiasm.

Alex: Shall we move on to Wimbledon? Yeah. Okay. So, nominated this year was the Men's Final on BBC One. Over 11 million people tuned in to see the young Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz and the legendary Novak Djokovic's four year reign as Wimbledon champion. Boyd, Wimbledon has never won a BAFTA despite several previous nominations. Do you think in part that could be because it's an annual event and so it perhaps lacks the specialness of something like the World Cup or last year's winner, the UEFA Women's Euros coverage? And is that potentially different this year? Because as people have been calling it, this was a Men's Final for the ages,

Boyd: It was an incredible final, wasn't it? Yeah. And, and a surprise because as you say, the young pretender beat the fantastic Djokovic over five sets. I almost think it's interesting actually, let’s see what Cat says, but whenever I think about the BAFTA nominations for sporting events, you think, is it because the event itself is so amazing that it's been nominated? Or is it 'cause of the technical achievement of covering the event? Because there have been previous Wimbledon Finals that have matched this one, pretty much. I mean it was fantastic, but there have been quite a few five set epics down the years that have been incredible.

Andy Murray was involved in an incredible final, for example. So, I think the rarity with which it's nominated probably does reflect that it's an annual event. And I think people almost assume that the BBC, 'cause it's A BBC event, there's no question ever that it's gonna be shared with ITV or whoever else, which football matches often are shared around.

I think it's maybe taken for granted to some extent because BBC just does a routinely brilliant job. Claire Balding does a fantastic job hosting it, and the commentators do their job fantastically well, and technically it can't be faulted, you know. You've got commentators like John McEnroe pop in. John McEnroe tends to do like three different broadcasters at the same time [ALL 3 LAUGH] in the same match, running between CBS or whoever, and the BBC.

Alex: Yeah, he’s like the hand grenade that's thrown into every broadcast!

Boyd: Yeah, but what a hand grenade though. Absolute legend. So, I do think maybe it's taken for granted. Yeah. Possibly.

Alex: You've actually attended Wimbledon in the flesh, haven't you, Cat? When you watch the coverage, does it manage to capture, and even potentially elevate the atmosphere of what it's like to be there in person?

Cat: I think it does. It's interesting because it's actually not as big as I thought it would be, you know, having watched it for many, many years! Usually when you've got a program or an event that's on repeatedly, you've got to kind of have a reason why it should be nominated in any particular year. So, as a producer, when you're entering for awards, you have to say, well, I think this year it's because of X or because of Y.

And I suspect with Wimbledon, they felt that it was such a dramatic nail biting final, and as Boyd was saying, is it the event or is it the coverage? But in a sense, it's kind of both coming together when you put in for an award. And that's probably why they've done it this year.

Alex: I do sometimes think watching an event on TV for me as a casual sports fan is more enjoyable than being there in person. This is such a ridiculous example, but it does fall under the banner of sport. But I haven't been to many sporting events, so this is my example. I went to WrestleMania 25 in Houston, Texas, having dabbled in watching WWE on TV, and when I was there in person, there's no commentator. You're just watching two men fight, like listening to grunts and groans and cheers. And I realized that it's the commentary and the explanation of what I'm watching that actually makes it enjoyable for me. And without that, it's confusing to say the least.

Boyd: When I was younger, when I used to go to Arsenal when I was a teenager, I used to take a little radio with me and a little hit phone so I could listen to the radio commentary in my ear. A lot of people used to do that, and maybe some still do. So, I know what you mean. Yeah, it does help when you know what's happening with the help of a commentator

Alex: You mentioned Claire Balding, Boyd, she anchored the Wimbledon coverage brilliantly. And, the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance. Tonally very, very different events that require two entirely different hats for someone to wear. Why is it that she's become one of the most trusted live broadcasters in the country?

Boyd: Oh, she's just fantastic, isn't she, at the job? She's absolutely. It’s another cliche of ‘what you see is what you get’. She's exactly the same off camera as she's on. I'm lucky enough to have met her a few times,

Alex: Marathon Walk?


Boyd: Do you know what I did? Sounds so weird. Doesn't it? I marathon walked with both of them, just madly, for charity, you know. [ALEX LAUGHS] Um, so I did get to know her, yeah, you do lots of practice walks as well. So, I've done many a walk with Claire. She's amazing, but she's absolutely a hundred percent in real life, the same as she's on screen and a completely relaxed, comforting, and yet excited presence as well, when she’s hosting these big events.

So, I mean, her love of tennis is probably second nature to her, her love of dogs - she does a brilliant job at Crofts as well, by the way, I love watching her doing Crufts. So the RoyalBritish Legion thing would've been a very different type of thing, but I think she's such an expert at dealing with events, particularly live events as we're talking about, that she can do all of them, any of them, and she's just fantastic at it.

And you know, there are lots of cliches about her - she's a national treasure, but she absolutely a hundred percent is. But that's just because that's herself. She hasn't created this persona. It really is her. And it just so happens that that persona is expert at hosting these huge live spectaculars.

Alex: I think that's really important, isn't it? I think viewers are so clued in to whether someone is being authentic when they're broadcasting these events, or if it’s more of a performance. Before we leave Wimbledon, Cat, the BBC has retained the rights to broadcast Wimbledon for over 90 years, which is obviously unparalleled.

From your experience producing a daily live show during your time on This Morning, what does returning to the same broadcast on a regular basis mean in terms of the planning and development, in this case the BBC, are able to do with something like Wimbledon?

Cat: Well, I did notice actually on the credits that they've also credited Wimbledon, haven't they? Wimbledon Broadcasting Services. And obviously the fantastic thing about Wimbledon is that because they have this same place that they're broadcasting from every year, they can really kind of set it all up so it becomes effectively like a kind of a TV place, as well as being a sporting venue. The only danger with it would be, stopping innovating. Do you know what I mean? I think that would be the only danger. And I think it is really important for those of us that have watched sports coverage over the years to carry on thinking about, well, what other shots that can we give the viewers?

Now cameras are tiny and flexible and we can put them anywhere. How else can we kind of, you know, um, work with the coverage to make it make it even better?

Alex: And I guess that's, even though so many variables stay the same, bringing in fresh eyes to the team. So you haven't got someone who's too set in their ways going, ‘this is how we do it’. Fresh thinking people to come in and go, ‘well, why don't we try this?’.

Cat: Absolutely, and I guess Claire Balding, taking over from Sue Barker was something that was very different this year and I did wonder whether Claire has got that advantage of having presented so many different shows, and doing a lot on radio as well. And so she does kind of really hold the hand of the viewer and is clearly an avid sportswoman herself as well as being a sports fan. And I think that she worked brilliantly.

Alex: Let's leave Wimbledon and go to another Multi-Day event which is in the running - the Cheltenham Festival, the historic horse racing event. It's Day One coverage by ITV Sports has been nominated. Now, most of the programs we are discussing here today are made by the BBC, but obviously ITV does have a strong commitment to live TV, and sports in particular. Boyd, what do you see as ITV’s particular strengths? Is there a noticeable difference in the way they approach broadcasting live sports compared to the BBC?

Boyd: I imagine they have a reputation for being more informal, less formal maybe than the BBC. I don’t know if that's actually true, because I think probably more and more as time goes on, the BBC's approach to these big events is less reverential than it might used to be. But certainly, everyone tells me that its coverage of racing has been phenomenal.

Because it was a big deal for them to acquire horse racing and you know, Chamberlain, the presenter, everyone loves him. And apparently they do a brilliant job of making it appeal to absolute racing experts, people who spend their whole lives following this sport. And people like me who are not that interested. So, from that point of view, they seem to have done a really good job of finding the balance between, respecting it and respecting the fans and respecting people. Because it's such a world where the experts know so much about all the different horses and the betting, it's all of that. And then people who don't, like me! They have to find that line between people who are just watching it casually and absolute obsessive fans. And I think they seem to be managing to do that, which is why I'm sure they've been nominated.

Alex: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I watched it, not having any skin in the horse racing game, how important is it, do you think, with these live broadcasts to create, drama, almost like you are producing a drama or a documentary without making it seem false and overblown.

Cat: I think, what's important is to give the viewers that information that inside knowledge so [00:22:00] that even when the viewer is a total generalist and perhaps doesn't know anything about horse racing, they can still get involved and really enjoy it and enjoy it more because they've got that information about the horses, you know?

And I think that's, that's really important. And obviously since ITV took over from Channel 4, in 2017 I think it was, they're doing a fantastic job and all the races are streamed as well on ITVX. And the Cheltnham Festival itself has become kind of bigger and bigger and more popular and more inclusive.

Loads of people are going now, which is fantastic. And I'm a horse lover, so I have my own horse, Guinness, and horses absolutely love racing. When you go out riding, they absolutely love to run and compete.

Alex: That's so interesting. Because I was watching it and the commentator was basically saying, ‘this horse loves a big crowd, when it's got a big crowd, when it knows eyes are on it, it really brings it’s A-game!’, and I'm like, is that true or is that absolute rubbish? Are you just saying that? So do you genuinely think some race horses register the scale of the event and think, ‘better bring my A game!’?

Cat: I really do think they do. Yes.

Alex: Really?!

Cat: They're amazing creatures. I just love them. And what's interesting is that in terms of television, sporting events, the very first was the Darby in 1931. That was the first sporting event to be broadcast.

Alex: That's good, that! And on that wonderful bit of trivia, let's leave sport behind and turn our attention to the live event coverage category.

So, just 10 days after covering the King's Coronation, BBC Studios was back with Eurovision at 2023, the 67th Eurovision broadcast with Liverpool hosting due to the war in Ukraine. Watched across the globe by a staggering 162 million people. You were both big fans of this year's broadcast. Boyd, why was this a particularly special year for Eurovision?

Boyd: Well, it was a very special year because a) it was hosted in the UK in Liverpool. Ukraine won the previous year and for obvious reasons, couldn't host it. And so the UK stepped in there. There was that kind of interesting competition they set up for competing cities to go for the prize of having the honour of hosting it. And it seems so right that Liverpool won. Liverpool’s history of pop music is unprecedented.

Alex: Yeah. I'd, I'd have liked to have seen it happen in Leeds, but it’s fine!

Boyd: Next time! Next time.

Alex: We don’t quite have the Beatles shaped heritage.

Boyd: No, no. I'm a big fan of Wedding Present, but, not quite enough to warrant moving it to Leeds.


Alex: Or perhaps Cud. There’s a niche one.


Boyd: Yeah let's keep listing obscure Leeds based indie bands! But it seemed so right that it was Liverpool and I think in the end it proved to be so right, that it was hosted in Liverpool, and because Eurovision has such a massive following in this country. I mean, I'm sure it does all around the world. Who knows? I don't live in those countries so I sort of don’t know. But every time Eurovision comes around, it seems to get bigger and bigger and bigger every year. Just when you think people have had enough, they're like, no, no, no, no. We love it even more. It's even more exciting. They find new ways of finding new acts. And then to have it hosted by Hannah Wadingham, what a brilliant talent. I think those of us who haven't don't go to the theatre that much and didn't know that she was an incredible stage performer, you know?

Then, for her to become a huge TV star via Ted Lasso, of course, the much loved Ted Lasso. And then it turns out she's just an incredibly accomplished, brilliant presenter and can present anything. She did the Olivier Awards last night, as we’re recording this, and did an incredible job, fantastic job.

But she seemed so right to host Eurovision in every single way. I mean, she co-hosted it with other people as well, but I think she definitely felt like the lead face of it. So, it just felt so right, all of those decisions. You’ve always got Graham Norton being hysterical and brilliant in the commentary, and he was also kind of envisioned as well this time around, obviously.

So the whole recipe, all the ingredients worked. There was a huge amount of anticipation for it anyway, and it lived up to that, you know, that was the thing. I think people could have been easily disappointed, but I didn't get the impression that anyone was even vaguely disappointed by the presentation itself. The whole show was phenomenal.

Alex: Certainly no one in the room!

Boyd: No!

Alex: That was a very British audience.

Boyd: It was,

Alex: It was a lively atmosphere, wasn't it?

Cat: And the whole thing was brought together, I think brilliantly by Nikki Parsons, who's one of the top female directors in the world of live events and regularly directs Strictly Come Dancing, and I think she just brought it together brilliantly. And Hannah, as Boyd says, was just a wonderful, refreshing, kind of new onscreen talent. And I think whenever somebody like that breaks through, she's immediately embraced and given a million opportunities because it's a very rare thing to be able to do.

Alex: I mean, we should talk about the fact that she had almost no live TV experience prior to Eurovision.

Boyd: I think the fact that she was so used to doing live theatre was a massive element of it, wasn't it? I think all of that must have prepared her for the phenomenal job she did, as you say, as a live TV presenter, and I think the producers must have known ‘nothing to worry about here’. You know, she's a formidable presence and she totally lived up to everyone's expectation.

Alex: You mentioned scale, Boyd. Cat, let me ask you, as a live TV producer yourself, just what kind of undertaking is it to put on a global broadcast with over 300 performers, all requiring earpieces, 27 cameras, three live directors linking up to 37 different countries live. Is that as daunting as it sounds?

Cat: It really is. It's massive and takes days of planning, days of rehearsal, really complex directorial scripts, but ultimately, it's about putting all that to one side and capturing the atmosphere of an event, the colour of an event, the spontaneity, you know, and bringing that to the audience so that they feel so inspired and they feel that it's even better than if they were there because they're getting this kind of great front row seat as well.

Alex: And, obviously with the UK taking over as host country, it was on a reduced production schedule by a couple of months this year. So it is quite amazing just how slick that production was. And considering the scale of Eurovision Boyd, do you wish more regular, weekly Saturday night shows were actually broadcast live these days?

Boyd: Oh, if I had my way, everything would be broadcast live. Particularly as you say on those Saturday night shiny floor entertainment shows. I mean, we've just had the last Ant & Dec Saturday Night Takeaway for the foreseeable future. They've decided to bow out of that particular show and I watched the two hour finale the other day and it was fantastically exciting. So yeah, I think broadcasters should be brave and make sure those events that can be live should be live.

Alex: It's what you were saying at the start, Cat, isn't it? It's the unpredictable nature of live TV and how exciting that is and the energy that almost comes to the screen, to the viewer, wherever they're watching. I mean, for want of a better reference point. I remember growing up watching Noel's House Party every Saturday night, which was live and when things went wrong, brilliant! Anytime Mr. Blobby came on screen, I mean, that's a weird statement. [CAT LAUGHS]

But it was really fun. I was young at the time and Mr. Blobby was the funniest thing on TV. Is there a reason why we don't have as much live TV on a regular basis on the weekend? These glitzy floor shows – why is that? Why aren't they done live?

Cat: Really, it's about the cost. It's more expensive to make live TV. And also I think a lot of creative perfectionists work in television and run television, and want to make sure that everything's as good as it can be, you know, in their view.

But, but I totally agree with you and Boyd that there should be more Live TV and we're pitching more Live TV because to us it's a way that you can really compete against the streamers and, bring the audience together and offer something very different.

Boyd: And I have noticed, sorry, more and more, I think there is a bit of a wave because The Last Leg goes out live on now on Channel 4, which is on for almost like a third of the year. Joe Lycett shows are live. I just saw it the other night.

Alex: Yeah, yeah, I was gonna say.

Boyd: So I feel like there is a bit of a wave of entertainment, live entertainment shows. Knowing that it’s a level of danger, isn't it? Particularly with like satirical comedians for example Joe Lycett, it just adds a whole level of excitement I think, the fact that is live.

Alex: An interesting point because I think Tim Davey, the Director General of the BBC said recently that one of their new commitments is to doing more Live. And this ties into what you were saying, Cat, because it is something that Linear TV, traditional TV can do that the streamers really can't.

I mean, I know Netflix tried to do a ‘Live with Chris Rock standup’ special, but you're a global streamer. So then you have to pick which territory, at which time you're gonna go live. And so it's hard to really embrace your entire audience with a live event.

Cat: Yeah, definitely. And it's so important for the future of our public service broadcasters. To be honest, our television is I think the best in the world and we do compete on an international level with the best as well. But we are currently in a difficult situation because more and more people are watching, usually drama on Netflix and Amazon and other big broadcasters like Apple. And that puts the PSBs, as we call them, under the spotlight if they're not getting the ratings, can they justify, the license fee, for example, at the BBC? And equally, can advertising revenue still come through and support the commercial PSB stations? So it does feel as if we're in the middle of a kind of sea change. And, and I think embracing live, embracing the ability to bring together the Nation is incredibly important for all our PSB broadcasters.

Alex: Well, talking of bringing together the Nation, another huge musical event watched by nearly 20 million people was the Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle. What a spectacle that was. Not least the incredible drone work, creating that Lion's head, among other things, floating above Windsor Castle was something else. And indeed, Eurovision the Coronation Concert and the Royal Festival of Remembrance all used technology in a way that provided a spectacle, the likes of which I certainly haven't seen before. It was really impressive. What did you make of the spectacle? Of the coronation concept?

Boyd: I thought they all did a spectacular job. Yeah. And I think it's an unenviable task for me. That event in particular. Eurovision and the Remembrance event - they're fairly in quotes, “straightforward”. You know where you are with them. Whereas the, the Coronation Concert, it could be anything, you could pick any, pick any presenter. The whole thing is that the producers have to come up with acts that will appeal to the massive people watching, the audience of, as you say, 20 million, as it was. The Royal Family itself, Prince Charles has to be vaguely engaged with what's going on, surely. So you haven't got to pick some random, I dunno, punk rocker or something.

Alex: remember Pete Tong opened it and I was like, don't cut away to Charles yet!

Boyd: Yeah, exactly.

Alex: Wait until Olly Murs in on.

Boyd: [LAUGHING] Good point! Yeah, so, and you're right, and the drone shots they do, these events do get more and more sophisticated and exciting year upon year as I guess they should. But I think this event in particular felt like they'd employed all of the weapons in their arsenal from the drones to the camera work, the lighting. It looked beautiful. It was exciting. And, you know, I'm not necessarily a huge Royalist and I probably wouldn't even necessarily choose to watch that particular thing. But the lineup and Hug Bonneville hosting was interesting. I love Hugh. So the whole concoction was quite intoxicating, I thought. And quite bold and brave, considering it's probably the most inherently mainstream concert you're ever likely to see on TV.

Alex: I mean, they really did deploy every weapon in their arsenal. Watching Hugh Bonneville being hit on by Miss Piggy…

Cat: Exactly!

Alex:…was, I mean,if you're bringing them up, uou know, it's a big show. And what did you make of the Coronation Concert Cat?

Cat: I thought it was fantastic. And I think that they've built from the Golden Jubilee, the Platinum Jubilee, now the Coronation Concert. They seem to have built and got bigger in scale and more ambitious with the projections, the drones, the different set design, lighting design. Fantastic that it was from Windsor. A great range of artists as well, I'm sure the list definitely went by King Charles and Queen Camilla. I'm sure that they were kind of saying yes to Lionel!

Alex: [LAUGHING] Definitely Pete Tong! ‘I want him to open it!’, ‘Remember that time we were in Ibiza Camilla, what a night!’


Cat: But it made it quite eclectic, didn't it, really, in terms of having fantastic classical artists like Sir Bryn Turville through to Lionel Richie and Take That. So it was a whole range. It was, it was great in that sense.

Alex: It was, it was. And I absolutely agree. I mean, they pulled it off because I, I do think it was an, unenviable task to make something that featured contemporary artists that perhaps might not be necessarily what you imagine King Charles would like and mixing it up, it went really well. And like you said, Cat the location, I think there'd never been a concert held at Windsor Castle, and it was spectacular. Another air spectacular location is the Royal Albert Hall, where the Royal Festival of Remembrance took place. Again, another impressive light show you've actually filmed at the Royal Albert Hall. It's a it's a glorious venue to look at. Iconic, of course, but what's it actually like to make a show there?

Cat: Well, it's, it's such a huge venue, you know, you've got 5,000 people there, so, it's a very big kind of directorial, effort to kind of, you know, to go in there and produce and direct a show.

We did The Big Sing for Songs of Praise a few years ago, and it's a great venue to work in, um, because you've got lovely height, so you can get fantastic shots of the whole audience, the whole auditorium, you know, I thought again, the lighting, the design was done really well. You know, they also captured the intimacy of each performance, which was brilliant.

Alex: And with that, we are almost done for this episode, but before I let you leave BAFTA HQ, I'm asking you and indeed every guest, my regular quick fire questions. I'm gonna start with you, Boyd. What was your most memorable moment from the past year in TV in general, across the board? Doesn't have to be live. Is there a moment from TV that you think in the last 12 months?

Has really, really delivered.

Boyd: Yeah. I'm thinking of the final scene of Happy Valley, the final episode, where these two characters have been mortal enemies for three series. Came together over kitchen table and had this incredibly beautifully written, fantastically acted tête-à-tête. So, yeah. That for me – the finale of Happy Valley.

Alex: And Cat, your memorable moment from the past year in TV.

Cat: I'd like to mention two. As we're in BAFTA, I really want to mention Samantha Morton's acceptance speech, at the BAFTAs for her honorary award.

It was just so special and really important for us all to kind of think about those of us that make TV and the importance of ensuring that there's access, you know, for people, whatever background they come from to, work in television. And I have to just quickly mention Malachi, you know, what a wonderful young teenage singer, what a voice, and his performance on Britain's Got Talent. And then again, for that remembrance show the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance was so special.

Alex: Okay, last question, Boyd, back to you. What are you watching and loving on tv?


Boyd: You know what I'm watching right now is Ripley, which is the Andrew Scott version of the Tom Ripley character, that was played by Matt Damon in the film The Talanted Mr. Ripley. This is written and directed by Steve Zallian. Oscar winning screenwriter, who I think wrote Schindler's List, and it's a beautiful, entirely in black and white, one of the most beautiful looking shows I've ever seen. It's like shimmering fantastic. Uh, Andrew Scott is incredible in this role. So ambiguous and strange. He brings a whole kind of level of performance to it, and it gives a bit of a slow burn, but it's eight episodes and it builds and builds and builds and builds to a fantastic climax. So, I think Ripley is one of the best dramas I've seen in a long

Alex: He’s something else isn’t he? Andrew Scott. All of Us Strangers as well, his film.

Boyd: Exactly. It's fresh. I think he filmed this first, then went to All of Us Strangers and was clearly exhausted. Emotionally exhausted. 'Cause he's in practically every scene of this eight hour epic.

Alex: Kat, what are you watching and loving on TV at the moment?

Cat: I've just finished This Town and I've absolutely love that, it's the story of two-tone. It's kind of coming out of Birmingham, a lot of motorways, [ALL LAUGH], not surprisingly, a lot of canals. But no, fantastic series and really young, refreshing cast and full of talent. So yeah. It's great.

Alex: Well, thank you to both of you, my guests, Boyd Hilton and Cat Lewis.

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.