Glasgow 2014 can be ‘as big as Olympics'

Clyde makes his entrance as Pa Clyde makes his entrance as Pacific Quay staff watch from the balconies

Sharon Mair is urging staff across the BBC to start dreaming up content for the Commonwealth Games.

The BBC is the domestic rights holder to the multi-sport event which takes place from July 23 to August 3 2014 in Glasgow.

Mair, who is BBC Scotland editor Commonwealth, is hoping that the BBC can harness the enthusiasm of an audience primed by some amazing Olympic and Paralympic exploits. Ninety percent of the UK population watched some of the Corporation's coverage of London 2012.

'I want this to be as big as the Olympics if possible,' she says. 'If anyone at the BBC has ideas for television, radio and online or about working in partnership with external bodies, then please get in touch. We can start the dialogue and pull together a really coherent offering.'

The 17 sports will be at the heart of the output. Medals will be contested in venues around the city, including the new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome which opens next month. A couple of sports take place outside Glasgow - the diving, for instance, will be held in Edinburgh.

Cultural festival

Start Quote

Sport is the reason for the Commonwealth Games but the cultural side can help us define what the modern Commonwealth is”

End Quote Sharon Mair Editor Commonwealth, BBC Scotland

'We cover sport fantastically well,' judges Mair, who is already working with BBC Sport on the plans. 'But I don't want a scattergun approach; we have to work out how to marry the sport with coverage of the cultural festival that will run prior to the Games.'

The BBC is talking to external bodies about cultural collaborations around poetry, dance, music and comedy.

'Sport is the reason for the Commonwealth Games but the cultural side can help us define what the modern Commonwealth is,' believes Mair. 'This is the 20th Games and that is quite a defining moment.'

Queen's Baton Relay

Mair is also hoping that the Queen's Baton Relay will whip up early enthusiasm for the Games as the Torch Relay did for the Olympics.

The relay will start at Buckingham Palace in October 2012, carrying a message from head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II. It will travel around all 71 Commonwealth countries before returning to the UK when the message will be read aloud and the Games deemed open.

'It will be a big multiplatform project and quite a challenge,' says Mair, who was working on Olympic output for the 18 months prior to London 2012 at the same time as doing the contractual and logistical groundwork for the Commonwealth Games.

'You need to understand what audience expectations are as well as the staff and resources needed to deliver an event of this scale. We have to make sure we have the right staff with the right training and knowledge.'

The first nine apprentices graduate from Pacific Quay The first apprentices graduate from Pacific Quay

Coverage of the sporting competition will mirror that of the Olympics in its scope and ambition. The infrastructure is already in place to offer multiple streams in 2014. 'I think the audience now demands that level of interactivity and availability of content,' she reasons.

Mair stresses that 'these are not Scotland's games; these are the UK's games', but she is keen for BBC Scotland staff to get involved, whether it's with sport, culture, legacy or events.

Mascot makes his mark

Already, Pacific Quay is playing host to ten new apprentices - as part of the Olympic and Commonwealth legacy project - who are beginning a year of training which will lead to a recognised media qualification. The first nine apprentices have just graduated, with six gaining short term production contracts at BBC Scotland.

And this week, staff lined the balconies at Pacific Quay to watch the unveiling of the new Commonwealth mascot. An animated film voiced by Billy Connolly introduced 'Clyde' the thistle man who swooped in on a wire. He was welcomed on stage by Olympic swimming stars Rebecca Adlington and Michael Jamieson.

Named after the river that runs through the host city, Clyde was designed by 12-year old Beth Gilmour who won a UK-wide BBC competition. The design was chosen for its 'Scottish symbolism and youthful energy'.

'It was a lot of fun,' says Mair of the day, adding that Clyde fits with her key themes for the Commonwealth Games of youth, inspiration, innovation and ambition.

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