Archive for March 7th, 2006

Richard Sambrook: awayday moment

Ashley Highfield is demonstrating the AQA (Any Question Answered) phone service. You text any question to a number [63336] and it guarantees an answer. Costs a pound a time (it’s not a BBC service). So on a whim Ashley texts:
“How should the BBC be structured?”
There is a long pause and then a text comes back…

“There are many views on this. The BBC needs a flatter structure with fewer managers. It’s not clear the move to Manchester will save money.”


I bet there was an even longer pause after that.

(From his internal blog but it’s been reported in Ariel which is publicly available)

This is Planet Earth….

No posts for awhile as I’ve been a bit busy travelling two Cardiff and Oop North the past to weekend (more on that later), but in between I’ve been working on a special home-page treatment for the BBC flagship Planet Earth series. A series described as The biggest ever made by the BBC Natural History Unit, aiming to offer the definitive portrait of the Earth. That’s quite something, so naturally I wanted to do something big on the BBC homepage.

The key thing that came across in the EPK that I saw was the HD camerawork and sense of being close to the animals, contrasted with those amazing aerial shots. Design wise I wanted to bring some colour back into the page, as I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sick of that colour blue… Also it doesn’t go that well with green/brown nature shots. The cat in the picture is a Amur Leopard, only 40 of which are left in the wild. For this treatment we also tried for the first time transparent PNGs on the homepage, to float the text over the JPG underneath.

So all this was supposed to happen last Sunday to coincide with the TX of the first episode, only due to a ‘technical hitch’ it didn’t. The BBC homepage is made up of lots of different feeds and components and is flattened by some other code do-dat.. (this is where having the Belam around to explain would be good). Anyway there was a problem with this and the regular Picture promo back up version went up instead… I’m a bit narked about this to be honest.

But we’re not the only ones to have Planet Earth troubles, at the end of the show they showed a fire that broke out in the camp, right next to the helicopter with the unique heli-gimble attached. And my chums at the Radio Times went close to the wire with their exclusive front cover
[From Ariel, the BBC Staff Paper]
Everyone agreed that an image of new-born polar bear cubs emerging from an underground snow den would be perfect for the Radio Times Planet Earth cover – but there was one snag. The mag needed a high-res scan of the bears, which they could only get from the photographer Jason Roberts, who was in an observation hut, on a Norwegian archipelago, near the Arctic Circle – a two day trek from anywhere. By the time he got back to base and scanned the image there were no flights left and no time to send the transparency. A dedicated line was set up direct from Norway to the printers and the image arrived with minutes to spare – making the cubs the riskiest, and probably the cutest, cover RT’s ever carried.

Mind you, they must have been so busy fretting about that, that this little typo slipped though

Anyway, the Planet Earth special treatment is set to go up again this Friday, as a reminder that ep1 is repeated, and every Sunday after that for the next five weeks hopefully.

More on my Oop North adventures…

So my Brother in Law and I set out on Friday night in his Land Rover through the snow to the next village to fetch a curry for tea… This is the sort of weather that we faced. We stopped for petrol, and on the return journey took a short cut up a steep hill. Half way up was a Fiat stuck in the snow whilst two guys were attempting to push it up the hill. We got out and offered some advice, and I joined in with pushing, after about 10ft we got it to a flat bit. I suggested leaving the car here and walking, at which point the girl in the car, who was driving, said ‘we can’t’ as Richard, the guy next to her was disabled. ‘We’ll be back’ said my bro-in-law and I, and we drive to the next farm and asked to borrow a tow rope… ‘We’re from round here, but there’s people stuck down there who aren’t’ we said, hoping he wasn’t the Tony Martin type. The farmer’s wife (sans carving knife) lent us her tow rope and we went back down the hill to the stuck car. We then spent 15 minutes getting the towing eyelet attached to the front of the car, but finally got underway. We got near the top of the hill and looked down the snow covered dirt track that lead to their holiday cottage where they were staying. They were never going to make it down there in their car which we left near a farm, so we had no choice but to get Richard out of the car and give him a lift down in the Land Rover, only he was wearing callipers, and so his legs didn’t bend very well and he couldn’t fit in. So we had to put him in the back with the tailgate open ‘next year were going to Spain’ he said as his friends hauled him in. Here’s a photo. We eventually got them down the hill and home. They’d have been really stuck if we’d have left them, or had to have called the Police I suppose. Very useful Land Rovers, only 14mpg though!

Saturday we went sledging which meant my snowboarding trousers got a second outing!

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
March 2006