When BBC invites you to the launch of 3 new channels, promising, among other things, ‘surprises’, they aren’t kidding around!
The launch of BBCBrit, BBCEarth and BBCFirst, held recently on a pink and purple hued rooftop in the trendy design district of Kramerville, was a showcase in understated British refinement. Goldilocks would have been proud – it was a case of ‘not too much, not too little … but just right!’
Guests mingled in the ‘Earth’ room, frolicked in front of the green screen, gazed in awe at the two full-wall screens of breathtaking footage, and enjoyed the innovation of having their cocktails topped up through a tube running through a BBC Earth ice sculpture. There was very much a sense of “What happens next …?”
What happened next was that we were ushered into a room off the ‘Earth’ room, where we took our seats in anticipation of the presentation. We were certainly not disappointed!
First up was Vice President and General Manager of BBC Worldwide Africa, Joel Churcher. Full of British charm and humour, he gave a brief overview of the new structure of the BBC Africa bouquet before introducing Kully Kaur-Bains, Head of Programming for BBC Worldwide Africa, who efficiently took us on a detailed excursion into the landscape that South African BBC viewers are about to encounter!
BBCBrit is described as the perfect blend of the meaningful and the meaningless! And if you’re intrigued about what that means, you can watch more here (add link) Guests were entertained by a hilarious interview with the 3 young stars of the popular BBCBrit series Youngers, Ade Oyefeso, Calvin Demba and Shavani Seth who were in SA for the channel launch. The channel debuts on 1 September.
And then … an absolute treat! BBCEarth’s Creative Director, Neil Nightingale took to the podium and took us on the most awe-inspiring, visually spectacular adventure. From an in-depth (literally) look at sharks in their natural habitat, to the veld where 2 abandoned cheetah sisters had to learn how to hunt for themselves in order to survive, to the survival skills of prairie lizards who depend on lions for their daily diet of flies, to the polar ice caps and an extensive, up-close look into the lives and habits of polar bears. It was absolutely riveting! Trust me, BBCEarth is going to be absolutely stunning, especially in magnificent HD! The channel launches on 1 September.
After giving us a general indication, once again complete with perfectly compiled imagery, of what we can expect from BBCFirst (soon to be the new home of classic British drama), launching on 18 October, the formalities were adjourned for the evening and we were introduced to the vocal genius of Morgan BeatBox – the only beatboxer worldwide who can produce a mind-blowing 8 – yes EIGHT – sounds at the same time!! And once the screen behind him dropped, and he beckoned us all to follow him into yet another room, we were in such awe that we could only follow!
Here we found dessert, complete with flame-thrower, liquid nitrogen ice-cream creations a la Paul Ballen a DJ and something which I think is called a PVAC – a Personnel Vacuum Assisted Climber – basically someone climbing a wall, aided by suction pads (quite Spiderman-like!) and a power-assisted backpack. It’s very impressive to watch (until the power trips!)
All in all BBC really pulled out all the stops and delivered an impressive, slick event.
As a PS, I feel the need to add that I’ve been paying close attention to Social Media and I’m quite fascinated at all the public negativity surrounding the changes that BBC is implementing. I know that generally human beings tend to be creatures of habit, but the fact that those delivering most of the comments seem wholly unwilling to give these new offerings even the slightest chance is quite disheartening. I know that change can be daunting, but we’re not talking about huge shifts in the earth’s rotation here.
Come on people, just a teensy little bit of an open mind will lead you to places you never even imagined! If you’re willing to just take that first step … BBC will be there to guide you.