BBC1 executives have criticised the panoramic shot of the newsroom that forms the backdrop to all the channel’s news broadcasts as ‘too dull’ and ‘not engaging enough for viewers’. Instead as Huw Edwards delivers sombre reports of economic malaise, staff featured in the background have been urged to dress loudly and not keep so still.
‘It looks too static and serious. What we need is more colour, more movement, more creativity, and a few surprises,’ said Mike Smyth, BBC Head of Appearance Factors Analysis. ‘Sure, we want to show that the BBC is an open, hardworking place. But what about the fun, creative side? That’s the reason we’ve decided to have spontaneous cartwheels performed by fat blokes, and plate spinning or juggling going on in the background, especially when Huw’s reading pieces about disaster and conflict, which many viewers find boring.’
Other ideas so far have included releasing howler monkeys, semaphore classes and, for after the watershed only, a naked conga line. ‘The best idea was to stage an impromptu mini-version of It’s a Knockout, complete with giant inflatables, a moat and a Royal appearing from nowhere, then disappearing just before the news where you are,’ Smythe said. ‘Of course we don’t want people to be distracted from the news, but we don’t want to lose their attention either. It’s a difficult balance.’
The experiment started on last night’s 10 O’Clock News with a mass brawl accompanying an item on the conflict in Afghanistan, a horse being led through the newsroom during a report on the Duchess of Cornwall, and a game of charades being played throughout the sports round-up.
Sadly the initiative was put on hold after the Chancellor of the Exchequer turned round during an interview with economics editor Stephanie Flanders to see a member of staff pulling out the lining of his empty pockets and shrugging his shoulders, before improvising an obscene gesture involving his mouth and both fists which has since been dubbed the ‘double-dip recession’.