BBC Big Screens in 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.