How short video helped 'own' unveiling of new Dr Who

Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor Who

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Doctor Who may be almost half a century older than Vine, Instagram and YouTube, but that didn't stop it turning to short-form video at a vital time, said executive producer Brian Minchin.

In the lead-up to the 50th anniversary last year, the Doctor Who team released mini-episode The Night of the Doctor on YouTube.

Critically well-received, and with a running time under seven minutes, Minchin said it proved how even a long-established show can maintain its integrity and production value with short-form content.

Minchin was speaking at Get Shorty, a session organised as part of The Future is Now event.

Presented by Radio 1's Greg James, it provided insights into the utility of short-form video and was aimed at encouraging collaboration between BBC departments.

Make our mark

Doctor Who had a pivotal 2013, with the announcement of Peter Capaldi as the new doctor. Minchin said that one of the team's crucial decisions - although presumably less crucial than the actual casting - was how to break the news.

A short 10-second video was their conclusion, opting for a clip of Capaldi saying: 'Hello there, my name is Peter Capaldi... and I'm the new doctor.'

Although very simple, it quickly reached some one million YouTube views and allowed the show to 'own' the moment, explained the exec producer, even when later covered by other media outlets.

The clip was the team's way of 'stamping our mark on it', he told the audience.

'Head of stairs'

Joe Harland, Radio 1's head of visualisation, then recalled how his job had initially been described in the media as the 'head of stairs in a bungalow'.

But he stressed that visual content is vital for radio programmes to expand their audience. 'The percentage of children who wanted a radio for Christmas was zero,' he joked.

Harland offered his insight into how Radio 1 had recently reached one million YouTube subscribers, something of personal importance to him. He finally shaved his beard for the first time in 10 months less than a fortnight ago, having promised to remain unshaven until the milestone was reached.

Traditional celebrity interviews are usually quite boring, he said. So last year the team sent relatively inexperienced reporter Chris Stark to interview Mila Kunis - and the result was a humorously awkward interview (which included asking Kunis out to Nando's) that went viral, gaining some 12 million views.

But it's not easy to 'make' something go viral; sometimes it's more about reacting to another trend with your own unique take, he said. 'But you have a limited time to spoof it... the whole world is trying to do the same thing.'

For that reason, Radio 1 tracked down the only wrecking ball in London and got a naked Greg James - sheepishly no longer on stage at this point - to recreate Miley Cyrus' much-discussed music video.

As a result of this visual platform, 'Radio 1 is more connected with its audience than ever,' Harland concluded.

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