Getting preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games underway
Project Executive, Commonwealth Games 2014
The power of sporting achievement, the multiplatform coverage and the creative cultural content on offer as a result of London staging the Olympic Games this year, in some respects makes the 2014 Commonwealth Games here in Glasgow an extremely hard act to follow. But, building and learning from the success of the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 is exactly what we here in Scotland are going to do to deliver the most fantastic Commonwealth Games.
As Editor, Commonwealth Games in BBC Scotland, I’ve been working on our Commonwealth ambitions and negotiations for the past 18 months, collaborating with colleagues right across the BBC on the Torch Relay, Music Nation, Apprenticeships Scheme, and the multiplatform delivery of brilliant sport, which our audiences have loved.
It’s been an incredible experience so far. And, over the coming weeks and months I hope to share with you some of the stories and developments behind the scenes. Here’s a recent one…
I was asked over a year ago by the Organising Committee for the Commonwealth Games if I would be interested in running a UK wide BBC competition to design the 2014 mascot. It seemed like a great idea, and a fantastic opportunity for the winner, not least the prize of tickets to the Opening Ceremony!
But, this was to be a far from straightforward process. The word ‘competition’ can strike fear at the very heart of many a hardy BBC exec, and if you add into that mix a children’s’ competition, external collaboration, confidentiality, all the editorial challenges those elements rightly demand, plus a launch event where surprising the winner is a key part of what you hope to achieve – you can begin to feel quite queasy!
Such a project demanded me working with some great teams across the BBC, and taking advice from all the relevant parties, we put the competition in place, launching it on BBC Radio Scotland’s MacAulay and Co and CBBC’s Blue Peter last year, and on the 20th September 2012 revealing both the winner and her design - Clyde the Thistleman - to the world at Pacific Quay in Glasgow.
Winning mascot designer 12 year old Beth Gilmour was fantastic. Her family was rightly proud of her achievements. The look of sheer joy on Beth’s face when she visited Pacific Quay and saw for the first time the incredible work the designers had done in bringing her drawing to life made it a wonderful experience for us.
There is an assumption that such projects are straightforward to run. The journey was considerable however. For example, Beth really didn’t know anything about her winning the competition until Blue Peter’s Barney surprised her at home with a camera crew in tow. That in itself meant we needed to get confidentiality agreements signed by all (and yes, her parents too!) so that the design of the Commonwealth Games mascot could remain a secret for several months while the designers worked their magic.
My personal experience of this part of the Commonwealth Games does inevitably focus on BBC Scotland. But importantly, the Commonwealth Games is not a Glasgow, or Scotland event, it is a UK and global event. Collaborations are already happening across the BBC and with our external partners to deliver the sport, cultural and learning proposition for the Games. The structures are starting to come together, the BBC is the UK domestic rights holder for the Games similar to the Olympics; our ambitions are the same - to deliver brilliant sports coverage for our audience, our challenges are bold, ambitious and exciting. Coverage of the Queens Baton Relay across all 71 countries, the Cultural Festival ambitions and the question of how we reflect a modern Commonwealth across all our genres will be at the heart of our programming.
One final note for this post. One of our 2012 apprentices has secured employment with us working on the transition of the Olympic Dreams and World Class projects to deliver the Commonwealth vision. I watched her enthusiasm as she handled a virtual global debate through the World Class site on what the children of the Commonwealth thought about our recently revealed mascot. She had the same look that Beth had when she saw the mascot come to life! That energy, excitement and inspiration which we all experienced during the Olympics is what we need to build on. Through our key themes of sport, youth, innovation and culture we will tell the stories of the triumphs, trials and surprises of the 71 countries and the new stars of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014.
The Commonwealth Games is a big project for BBC Scotland now underway. It will be hugely exciting for us and I look forward to sharing with you the developments and the collaborations we will make on the road to Glasgow.
Sharon Mair is Editor, Commonwealth Games, BBC Scotland