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Top of the Pops Christmas 2011

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Heather Taylor | 11:33 UK time, Friday, 23 December 2011

Little Mix on Top of the Pops Christmas special

Little Mix on Top of the Pops Christmas special

Editor's Note: Mark Cooper, Creative Head, BBC Music Entertainment, writes for the About the BBC blog about Christmas at Top of the Pops.

I guess Father Christmas must feel this way when he puts on the red coat and climbs into his sleigh. I am talking about the warm glow that returns seasonally once a year when BBCMusic Entertainment get out the glitter cannons and the reindeer hats and send for the neon signs that say 'TOP OF THE POPS'.

Of course each of those signs is from a different era of the BBC's weekly music show that ran for 44 years before being laid to rest on July 30, 2006. But that's only appropriate as the Christmas edition of Top of the Pops is not only a party and a review of the hits of the year but also the annual resurrection of the spirit of this great show for which the British public has so much affection, a tribute to all the many different eras of Top of the Pops, bang in the middle of Christmas Day, the day that every British household holds most dear and - even as time passes - wishes to be exactly as it always was. Although Top of the Pops the weekly chart show lies dormant, the Christmas edition of Top of the Pops has carried on regardless, returning annually at 2pm to ignite the party spirit just before the Queen's Speech as in time immemorial.

BBC Music Entertainment has produced Top of the Pops and TOTP2 since it was created in 1997 and are still sad to have been the ones who produced the show in its final years. And that is why when the studio is booked and we start scouring the year's charts for the right blend of artists to celebrate the year in pop music with all the broad church appeal of every proper edition of Top of the Pops, a spring returns to our step. Fortunately that glad smile is still shared by our wonderful presenters Fearne and Reggie and pretty much all the pop stars and bands and record companies out there. This was a great year for new young British artists with more artists scoring debut Number 1s in a year than I can remember and our Christmas show was the chance for them to confirm their ascent, to be able to say to their family, friends and fans - 'Did you see me on Top of the Pops?'

Ed Sheeran walked into our Xmas studio eyes agog, taking in the different stages with their Christmas trees, their baubles and their shining stars and positively glowed. He was fulfilling a life long ambition to appear on the show. Because that's what every artist who made it into the charts and onto the show always felt, that they'd really made it - 'Look ma, I'm on Top of the Pops!' Rizzle Kicks decided that they simply had to surprise everybody by jumping out of a couple of presents, Will Young wished everybody at home 'Happy Christmas' and Little Mixx performed with remarkable aplomb considering they'd had two hours sleep since the whirlwind of winning X-Factor. All of our live artists sang wonderfully and somehow avoided getting a mouthful of glitter or fake snow.

But as up for it as this cream of young British pop showed themselves to be, I don't think they are the real secret of Xmas Top of the Pops. OK, the beauty of making the show once a year is that we can field a cast of Number 1 hits, that we have a dream slot on BBC ONE on perhaps the key TV watching day of the year, that we belong in the schedule on Christmas Day like the stocking at the end of your bed or the sherry just before lunch. No, the secret of Top of the Pops is the great British public themselves. Top of the Pops was one of the very first TV shows to put the ordinary British public centre stage, on camera, right in front of the acts and all around the presenters.

And this Christmas here they are again, pouring into the studio chatting excitedly and then quickly coming to the boil as they are expertly 'frothed up' by the show's 'hype man' of many years standing, the extremely excitable Danny Stegall. And then in our relatively tiny studio with its Christmas trees and four stages, Fearne and Reggie who've grown up on TV and on Top of the Pops are right there amongst them, chatting between takes, letting them know they are amongst friends and then right there in front of everybody - so close you can almost touch them - are Example or Professor Green or The Vaccines. And the songs start and suddenly that whole audience is jumping up and down or waving their arms in the air or singing along like they just don't care. The announcement of the Christmas Number 1 live on the show can only add to the excitement this year but this intimacy between the pop stars and the public and the songs is the very essence of Top of the Pops and for an hour on Christmas Day, when dreams come true and Father Christmas has landed, Christmas Top of the Pops is what it ever was - pure Christmas magic!

BBC Big Screens in 2011

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Heather Taylor | 15:48 UK time, Thursday, 22 December 2011

Editor's Note: Stephen Morgan, Screen Manager for BBC Big Screens in Swansea and Cardiff, writes for the About the BBC blog about memorable moments seen on Big Screens in 2011.

Christmas is a time of the year when we look back and take stock of the year - and what a year it's been for BBC Big Screens. As I stand beneath moonlit skies, watching the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales perform some festive favourites on the Cardiff screen, I can't help but feel its calming, heart-warming effect. It's an opportunity to take a break from the shops, relax and reflect on some of our dazzling events - memorable moments, which have brought communities together.

From nail-biting sporting action to world-class music from the Royal Opera House, the screens have hosted hundreds of family-friendly events, the length and breadth of Britain.

I look after Swansea and Cardiff and with my colleagues, we manage a network of 22 screens across the UK. New screen additions this year include Coventry, Belfast and Derry.

There have been many highlights in 2011. Back in late April, thousands of people congregated around our screens for a slice of pomp and ceremony. Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton was televised around the world, but many people made an appointment to watch the historic occasion at one of our screens. As one lady said, "It's just nice to watch it where there's a bit more atmosphere than watching it at home." Screen sites provided a party atmosphere, with traditional bunting to set the scene.

BBC Big Screens for the Royal Wedding

We've indulged in fantastic music events. Our live relays from the Royal Opera House are always popular and they make opera accessible for everyone. Record-breaking crowds of 24,000 attended 15 Big Screen sites, as well as five temporary screens. And in Cardiff I was proud we were able to offer live coverage of this year's BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, a premier showcase for opera and concert singers at the start of their careers. And who could forget BBC Last Night of the Proms, the grandest of grand finales? Audiences across the UK had an opportunity to come together at Big Screen sites to be part of the magic of the Last Night. As a team, we're passionate about giving opportunities to local talent as well and performances by local bands have been recognised on BBC Big Screens.

Up North, Elbow performed at a BBC Radio 2 homecoming gig at Manchester Cathedral. Thousands of people applied for tickets but seating was limited to a few hundred. Thanks to the Big Screen, a live relay was provided in Exchange Square, for those who couldn't get a ticket. Guy Garvey, lead singer, encouraged those standing in the streets to sing so loudly, it could be heard inside the building.

BBC Big screen of Elbow concert

On the sporting front, BBC Big Screens provided comprehensive coverage of Wimbledon. When Andy Murray reached his third successive Wimbledon final and set up another meeting with Rafael Nadal, television and radio crews were positioned around the Big Screen to capture the moment. It was not to be, this time.

BBC Big Screens of Wimbledon

There was plenty of other sporting action and it was a big year for rugby as fans followed the highs and lows of the World Cup. It was in Swansea that the atmosphere reached fever pitch as fans were subjected to the thrilling Semi Final, Wales against France - probably the biggest game in Welsh rugby history. Wales lost narrowly by one point in this tumultuous game and it was a heartbreaker for the audience watching the Big Screen. The dreams of making it to the World Cup Final were suddenly shattered. It was a moment I'll always remember.

Crowd watching rugby at BBC Big Screens

Watching people play our interactive games is always a good experience but meeting people who attend our events, and tell you they've had a ball, has got to be the most rewarding part of the job. One gentleman travelled all the way from the Shetland Islands to see his partner's son graduating in Cardiff. He didn't have a ticket for the University of Glamorgan ceremony - but was able to see it all, courtesy of the BBC Big Screen. He travelled 14 hours by sea to Aberdeen, followed by a lengthy car journey to the Welsh capital. Needless to say, we made his day.

Those are some of my 2011 highlights and I can't believe next year is actually going to be 2012. It's going to be one amazing year. If you're not able to make it to the Olympic Park, the Big Screens are going to be the next best thing. We'd love to see you at our events.

Nadolig Llawen - Merry Christmas.

What? No Santa?! Christmas Radio Times cover illustrations from years gone by

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John Escolme John Escolme | 12:30 UK time, Tuesday, 20 December 2011

When the Christmas 2011 front cover of the Radio Times (below) was released to the press at the beginning of December, there was deep shock - there wasn't a Santa Claus to be seen.

We live in lean times went the argument, and a well fed Santa on the front cover was considered something of an overindulgence.

The front cover of the 2011 Christmas Radio times

The front cover of the 2011 Christmas Radio times

Some have come to expect Santa's face beaming out, tempting us to tune in to two solid weeks of family viewing, and we have begun to think it's his rightful place. However, looking back though nearly 90 years of Radio Times covers at Christmas, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Santa is a relative newcomer to the scene.

It's where he doesn't feature that the Radio Times at Christmas becomes even more interesting, and where the creative festive flow of the illustrators cranks up.

The earliest Christmas covers from the 20's and 30's are the most striking.

Take the Christmas RT for 1926 (pictured below left), no Santa that year, instead a prominent yellow star perches above an alarmingly modernist lightning strike. Is it the communists or the fascists running Christmas that year?

Covers from the Christmas Radio Times in 1926 and 1929.

Covers from the Christmas Radio Times in 1926 and 1929.

1929 (above right), and Santa still doesn't get a look in. Instead, something heavenly is definitely going on, but there's a sinister air, and storm clouds are brewing.

By 1931 (below left) things had calmed down a bit with frolicking angels taking centre stage - much more reassuring. However, it's not to last.

Covers from the 1931 and 1933 editions of the Christmas Radio Times.

Covers from the 1931 and 1933 editions of the Christmas Radio Times.

Snow engulfed transmitting stations and an iced-up Broadcasting House makes one wonder if the BBC, during Christmas 1933, wasn't quite certain of getting on air at all, 'due to adverse weather conditions'.

Edward Ardizzone, Val Biro, Eric Fraser, Anthony Gross, Ralph Steadman and Rex Whistler have all illustrated for the Radio Times over the years, contributing their fair share of abstract and traditional designs. This years' Santa-less front cover by Kate Forrester takes us back toward tradition, a wavering green Christmas tree, decorated in gold and red, but it's no less impressive than the perceived to be all important tubby Father Christmas.

The cover of the 1988 Christmas Radio Times.

The cover of the 1988 Christmas Radio Times.

Forrester follows a long tradition of producing successful non Santa covers. After all it was the 1988 Christmas edition (above) that netted a record 11,220,666 editions sold, and Santa was nowhere to be seen that year either.

It's been an 'eventful' year....

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Peter Salmon Peter Salmon | 10:09 UK time, Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Frankenstein's wedding. Image by Ralph Petts

Frankenstein's wedding. Image by Ralph Petts

Our new home here at MediaCityUK has gone from being a project to a creative and broadcast reality. We have moved almost two thousand people into our new buildings at the same time that many of them are building new lives for themselves in the region. And onsite people are making programmes for television and radio and content for online at the same time that we are broadcasting live from studios overlooking Salford Quays twenty-hours a day. Listen to Radio 5 Live, catch the Christmas Blue Peter or watch the CBeebies Pantomime if you want proof this festive season.

The evening I sang along to the MediaCityUK Community Carol concert here on the piazza last week, reminded me that a key reason for building a new creative hub here in the North of England was to get closer to our audience. This isn't only about spending the licence fee more fairly across the region, investing in programmes, training and employment, but about getting physically closer to licence payers as well.

And I believe that ultimately this isn't just for our audiences. For me, it is as important for our staff as well. Meeting the public, listening to what they have to say and simply just talking to them, can give a fresh perspective and help enrich the programmes we make and the services we offer. We all should get out more.

So this year we created a series of events both at MediaCityUK and across the region that have either brought the audience here to Salford Quays or taken us to where they live and work.

Since May, tens of thousands of people have come face to face with their favourite presenters and personalities, taken part in live broadcasts or heard free live concerts and even helped us raise money for charity. I don't imagine many had been face to face with the BBC before.

At the beginning of the year, together with a host of partners, we transformed Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds and invited the public to be guests at a Gothic-inspired wedding. Over 12,000 people braved a cold March evening to attend Frankenstein's Wedding... Live In Leeds. Nearly everyone dressed up for the occasion broadcast live on BBC Three and which has won a series of awards.

In June, the BBC Philharmonic marked their arrival onsite with a festival of free concerts in their new studio. BBC Philharmonic Presents welcomed over three thousand people to a two-week programme of free music that ranged from church and film music to the premiere of a dubstep symphony. As well as live studio audiences, over 10 million people tuned into the concerts across the BBC's radio networks or watched via red button - a testament to the originality of the idea and the imagination of our orchestra. Later in the same month, the BBC Philharmonic performed 'Music While You Work' in a factory in Salford. Originally started by the BBC in the 1940s to improve morale, the BBC Philharmonic has been associated with the initiative for decades and, I hope, made a normal work-a-day lunchtime more memorable, putting a spring in the step of the audience both in the factory and on Radio 3.

Over the summer we worked with the Manchester International Festival both here in Salford and in central Manchester, creating a series of unique events for young and old alike. Possibly the most unusual collaboration was Music Boxes. Seventy-eight shipping containers were transformed into series of music-inspired adventures for young children including CBeebies and Zingzillas, who created two very special sound worlds in their containers to engage and entertain their young visitors. Our own North-based Research & Development team combined forces with Manchester-based magneticNorth to create the Virtual Maestro. This clever piece of kit gave budding young maestros the opportunity to conduct the BBC Philharmonic. It wasn't as simple as it looked, as it seemed to baffle the most determined of parents - me included.

On the other side of the piazza, in collaboration with PunchDrunk Theatre, the BBC created an alien world as the setting for a special Doctor Who adventure - The Crash of the Elysium. Within moments of entering the exhibit, the children were thrust into a confrontation with one of the most dangerous of the Doctor's adversaries, the Weeping Angels. And for one group, the adventure was made even more memorable by the surprise appearance by Matt Smith himself. And in central Manchester, members of the BBC Philharmonic joined Damon Albarn for the world premiere of his opera, Dr Dee.

A wetter than normal Bank Holiday weekend in August couldn't deter thousands of children from coming to Salford Quays. Their objective was to meet one of their heroes, Justin Fletcher aka Mr Tumble, and they weren't disappointed. Despite the rainy weather, they watched as Justin performed a series of live shows on a specially built stage and in between Shaun The Sheep's "Championsheeps Live" game kept them entertained with a summer fair inspired assault course. That soggy concert also then inspired Justin and team to produce more than 20 new episodes of Justin's House in the studios here at MediaCityUK. The series was so successful that it went on to break all records for CBeebies.

And the following month, Alesha Dixon travelled to Salford. Stepping out from Strictly, she brought street dance to the Lowry and hosted a series of workshops as part of CBBC's new show, Alesha's Street Dance Star.

A world away from dance was BarCamp in September. Hosted by the R&D team this was the very first time the BBC had opened its door to this global free-form event. Over a single weekend over 150 people came together in one of our buildings to discuss the latest developments in technology - everything from gaming to social networking - and to share their ideas.

On a smaller scale but just as important, Mr Bloom, another new CBeebies personality, visited my hometown of Burnley. Over a single weekend, a patch of land was transformed into a community allotment that formed a special episode and was then handed over to a local Pennine charity. A moving event for all of us who attended.

Back at base we hosted out first local residents' Open Day. Our Outreach team have been out in the community since before we arrived at MediaCityUK, but it wasn't until November - once we had enough people in the buildings and were broadcasting live from the site - that we felt we would really welcome our neighbours round for a tour. Seven hundred people from the local community visited us over the weekend. It was interesting that - in spite of what some of them had read in the papers - their feedback on our new home and programme plans were broadly positive.

A few weeks later we hosted a day of events to celebrate Children In Need and to raise money. As well as a flashmob dance to Singing In The Rain - and typically the rain failed to fall at the appointed time - a cohort of me and my colleagues grew beards that were then ceremoniously shaved off and there were a series of other events that encouraged people to visit the site. In total the public raised over £26 million and I am incredibly proud that approximately six million pounds alone was raised across the North of England for this incredible cause - not to mention the massive Children In Need Rocks Manchester Concert.

And I could keep you here all day if I went into detail about Lady Gaga in Carlisle for The Radio One Big Weekend; Strictly Come Dancing and the big finale in Blackpool; never mind Jesting About, our entertainment search in Tyneside; or even the first ever Salford Sitcom Showcase.

And that brings me finally to the last two weeks here at MediaCityUK. In the run up to Sports Personality Of The Year this week, BBC departments across the site have come together and created Celebrate Sport.

Celebrate Sport was a fortnight of sport-related events. Two particular highlights for me involved Manchester's two greatest clubs. The very successful BBC One series Bang Goes The Theory collaborated with the reserve team of Manchester City. Working with children from two local schools they tackled the science behind the "beautiful game", looking at the things that are critical for any major player including fitness and nutrition. And at the end of last week, the BBC Philharmonic joined forces with the Manchester United Foundation Choir and the BBC North staff choir. Attended by Sir Bobby Charlton, it was an amazing concert and I don't think that there was a dry eye in the house by the end of it.

And all week the National Football Museum have taken up residence in The Studio block and run a series of events throughout the day. These have ranged from kit design, sports-themed reading sessions for young children to an exhibition of football artefacts and memorabilia that not only included the football from the 1966 World Cup Final but also George Best's Manchester United shirt and John Motson's famous sheepskin coat.

Of course, events are complicated and sometimes things don't go according to plan. Only this weekend some people were disappointed at not getting into a recording of Football Focus at Salford Lads Club. It's normal practice to issue more tickets than the capacity of a venue because it's usual that some people won't turn up. Unfortunately at the weekend - either because it was Football Focus or because we were recording at the Club - everyone with a ticket turned up and sadly some people couldn't get in. I know that this was a massive disappointment for all of them, some of who had travelled a long way. However, I am pleased to say all those who were weren't able to get into Football Focus are being offered tickets to watch a recording of Question of Sport in the New Year.

Best laid plans! But neither we, nor our new neighbours I hope, will be deterred. This year has been a promising start and we will build on what we have done and what we have learned.

We are now finalizing our plans for 2012 and naturally the Olympics - and in fact a massive year of sport in all - will play a major role in how we get even closer to the public.

We will continue to invest in programmes made across the region and as well as events here in Salford Quays that create a real sense of public space in front of our buildings, I am determined that we move beyond Greater Manchester and travel across the North.

We have already announced that the BBC will be in Preston next Easter and are putting the finishing touches to events that will take us out and about across the North.

And we will continue to organize events with universities and colleges across the region. Starting with Preston College in January, when I will attend the opening of the college's new visual and performing arts building and we have plans for events at Sheffield Hallam University and Leeds Trinity Centre for Journalism in the first months of 2012.

However, getting out and actively engaging with our audiences will be a challenge at a time when we are reducing budgets across the BBC. But this isn't the time to retreat behind the walls of our buildings. We need to both welcome the public into our spaces and go out to them. Just as the audience value and enjoy the programmes that we make, equally they take great enjoyment when they experience the BBC for real, meeting us, talking to us and asking us their own questions.

We should never underestimate the importance of the audience. Engaging with them directly - here in Salford, across the North or, in fact, anywhere in the UK - makes for a better, stronger and more supported BBC.

Peter Salmon is Director of BBC North

A look back at Frozen Planet

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Heather Taylor | 14:50 UK time, Monday, 19 December 2011

A photo of Polar Bears from Frozen Planet

Editor's Note: Alastair Fothergill, Frozen Planet Executive Producer, writes for the About the BBC blog about his experience on working on Frozen Planet.

Frozen Planet has just finished broadcasting on BBC One, and although we have only had the final figures for the first four episodes, we know they have attracted an average weekly audience of 12 million viewers. These viewing figures even surpassed those for Planet Earth that broadcast back in 2006 in a very different broadcasting market. The audience appreciation index of 94 out of a 100 broke all previous records for any series on the BBC. So many people of all ages have told us how much they have really enjoyed the series. For the whole team that worked on Frozen Planet, it has been a very satisfying end to a long production journey.

I have been fortunate to work on a number of landmark natural history series for the BBC Natural History Unit including The Blue Planet and Planet Earth, but Frozen Planet was definitely the most challenging so far. It took four years to make and we spent a record of 2356 days in the field. We were at sea for a year and a half, spent over six months filming out on the sea ice and a record 134 hours diving beneath the ice. The amazing camera teams we were fortunate enough to work with struggled for months against some of the most demanding conditions our planet can throw at you. They, and the directors that worked with them, managed to capture much new behavior that has never been filmed before.

I find it very difficult to pick a particular favorite but who can forget the extraordinary way a pod of killer whales cooperated to wash seals of ice flows; or the epic battle between wolves and buffalo in the depths of the arctic winter. We were particularly pleased that the audience really seems to have engaged with the two key stars of the series, the polar bears in the north and the Adelie penguins in the south.

A vital part of the polar bear story is how they are born in the depths of winter in a den beneath the snow. To film this is the wild would have been completely impossible without causing the mother to desert and the cubs to die. Even filming this sequence in controlled conditions was a real challenge, as we explained on the extremely popular Frozen Planet website.

We were also careful to ensure the narration didn't mislead the audience and talked in general about polar bears in the wild rather than the specific cubs shown. Unfortunately, most of the recent reports in the press misquoted the commentary reporting that David Attenborough had said "But on these side slopes beneath the snow new lives were beginning." In fact what David said was "But on lee-side slopes, beneath the snow, new lives are beginning". The difference is crucial. The narration was explicitly and deliberately generic and spoke about polar bears in the Arctic in general rather than one specific den. We are pleased that the vast majority of our viewers have totally understood and agreed with the approach we took to this special sequence.

It is an underlying principle of natural history filming that we only ever use controlled conditions in extreme circumstances - for example when it is too dangerous to the animals or crew or physically impossible to film in the wild. We don't change the narrative of natural events but sometimes controlled filming is the only way that we can show our audiences specific animal behaviour.

One of the key aims of the series was to take the audience on a journey to a place most would never be fortunate to go to. The scenery in the Polar Regions is unmatched anywhere on our planet, but capturing its true beauty was an incredible challenge as well.

More than anything else we hope people would come away from the series realizing the Frozen Planet really is a world beyond imagination. From what we have heard from everyone who was enjoyed the series, I think we can be happy we may just have achieved that goal.

Helen Skelton's new Polar challenge for Sport Relief 2012

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Jon Jacob Jon Jacob | 09:35 UK time, Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Editor's Note: Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton writes for the About the BBC blog, telling us about her new challenge for Blue Peter and Sport Relief 2012.

Over the last few months I have snarled: "Why am I doing Sport Relief again?" Not because I'm being mean, but because I have been, at times, utterly miserable when I've done it before.

One of those times was on an Icelandic glacier, 48 hours without a toilet, real food and in the middle of a blizzard so bad I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I am hoping it won't be as bad in Antarctica but in truth it could well be worse.

For Sport Relief 2012 I am going to attempt to get to the South Pole, covering over 500 miles by kite, by ski and by bike. No one has used a bike to get to the South Pole before, plenty say it can't be done so of course that's the method I would like to use. The weather and the terrain will determine how we travel each day.

I get asked all the time, why? Why give up Christmas, risk frost bite and hypothermia spending 16 hours a day in temperatures that could be as low as minus 50. Because that's nothing compared to what some kids in the UK deal with every day. I have met children through Sport Relief who make me realise I have absolutely nothing to complain about. It's because of them I won't give up.

But why think these things up and do it in the first place? Because I have a unique job in which I don't have to do paperwork or go to meetings. All I have to do is excite kids about the world. I don't expect every kid to climb Everest but I hope if they see me turn a struggle into a triumph they might realize that if something is hard it's not impossible.

The Polar programmes are going to be the first in a new series of Blue Peter specials. We're going to be moving to a Thursday next year, running all year round. In the near future it means we can get to more events happening over the summer in the UK. In the longer term I am hoping the flexibility means I will be able to persuade the powers that be to let me go off on another expedition and up the ante even more. Hopefully I will be on the first show of the new year live from Antartica.

Celebrating the best in diversity and creativity at the CDN Awards 2011

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Mark Thompson Mark Thompson | 15:21 UK time, Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Tameka Epsom, from EastEnders and Cherylee Houston from Coronation Street

Tameka Epsom, from EastEnders and Cherylee Houston from Coronation Street

Last night was a fantastic evening celebrating the best in creativity and diversity at the third annual Creative Diversity Network (CDN) Awards, which took place at MediaCityUK studios in Salford.

As current Chair of the CDN, I was very proud to bring the celebration to Salford, so partners, stakeholders, programme makers and talent could see the impressive site that stands for exactly what the CDN Awards are all about: embracing, celebrating and reflecting diversity - geographic as well as demographic.

Winners of the 2011 CDN Awards

Winners of the 2011 CDN Awards

I want to congratulate again all involved in last night's ceremony which showcased some of the very best in diverse and creative programmes and people. Last night many people came together to pay tribute to the enormous range of artistic and creative talent, innovation, commitment and sheer hard work that has taken place over the last year.

The challenges the BBC is meeting - representation, portrayal, a more diverse workforce - are the same for all members of the CDN, and these winners show how successful we can be as an industry when we embrace diversity. As Chair of the CDN, it was a pleasure to see the fruits of so much hard work.

And the winners are...

Radio Times Drama Award:
Luther (BBC One)

Company of the Year Award:

Best Comedy & Entertainment Programme:
Phone Shop (Talkback Thames for Channel 4)

Diversity Innovation Award:
Battlefront (Raw Television for Channel 4)

Best Nations and Regions Portrayal:
Fish Town (Mentorn Media for Sky Atlantic HD)

CDN News Award:
The BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme

Best Breakthrough Talent:
Levi David Addai

Community Initiative
Company Pictures, Skins

Best Factual Programme:
Undercover Care: The Abuse Exposed (Panorama, BBC)

The CDN Fellowship:
Presented to Clive Jones, with a speech by Samir Shah and presentation by Chair of the CDN, Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson is the Director General of the BBC, and current Chair of the CDN

Bringing Together BBC's Corporate Websites

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Ian Hunter | 07:48 UK time, Monday, 5 December 2011

Today sees the launch of a refreshed version of our corporate websites, About the BBC, of which this blog is part. I have been leading the team who made the changes and I'd like to explain some of the thinking behind them.

The BBC has long had websites aimed at helping audiences and licence fee payers understand various aspects of what it does as an organisation. Some of these worked well and were well maintained, others had become out of date. In all, there were around fifty of them. The connections between them were very limited. There was nowhere to go to gain a broad understanding of how the BBC works or what it does. The sites varied enormously in look and feel.

The old homepages for the About the BBC and BBC Press Office websites

The old homepages for the About the BBC and BBC Press Office websites.

Earlier this year, we outlined the BBC's plans to reshape and rationalise BBC Online to create one cohesive service.

The task we set ourselves here was to improve the quality and coherence of the BBC's corporate online presence, and at the same time to make it much more cost effective.

Our solution: the new About the BBC Homepage, and Inside the BBC site

Our solution: the new About the BBC Homepage, and Inside the BBC site

When we analysed the sites we found they fitted within five broad categories. The new About the BBC, therefore, has five sections. They share a single design and navigation pattern:

Inside the BBC - for licence fee payers and anyone interested in the BBC, covering our history, programmes and services, how we are structured and the principles to which we work.

Media Centre - the latest announcements, programme information, media packs and statements from the BBC's press office.

Partners and Suppliers - providing information for people and companies who want to work with the BBC, become a supplier, or have a programme commissioned.

Careers - for people who want to get a job or work experience with the BBC, or find out about the training we offer.

Help and Feedback - bringing together advice on how to access and use our services, or how to give feedback on them.

In addition to bringing a number of sites into this framework, we have moved them into a single content management system, using common templates. This will radically reduce the editorial and technical costs of maintaining them.

We have also tried to make the site more compelling, accessible and understandable. Here, the main changes are:

  • A new homepage, linking the five sections, featuring the latest BBC news and directing visitors to areas of current interest

  • New unified navigation, with a roll over feature in the page header providing links to the full range of corporate sites
  • A focus on simplicity and clarity, with short explanations of the different sites and the use of images to aid navigation

  • Multimedia embedded across the site to bring variety and interest

  • Social media integration to enable our visitors to engage in conversation with and about the BBC should they choose to, links to some of our blogs and embedded Twitter feeds such as @bbcpress and @aboutthebbc

Creating a new corporate presence for the BBC is a gradual process. We are working with colleagues to migrate their sites into the new framework as they become due for a refresh. Many have moved today but this is not a "big bang". Others, like BBC Shows and Tours and BBC Supplying will move into the new look and feel over the coming months.

We hope you that the new corporate face of the BBC will help you find the information you need more easily, and provide a better account of how a complex organisation works and what it does. We would very much value your feedback, either here on this blog, or on Twitter to @aboutthebbc.

Ian Hunter is the Managing Editor, BBC Online

Related Links:

Erik Huggers: Reshaping BBC Online

Ralph Rivera: Connected storytelling - one service, ten products, four screens

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