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Wednesday, 8 May 2013

In conversation with Sir Peter Bazalgette...

We were lucky enough to be joined by TV tour de force and all round visionary Sir Peter Bazalgette for a very special Q&A at the Roundhouse in London last Tuesday.

Sir Baz in conversation with Sonali Shah

Well, what a night! This was the first of a series of exciting events that we are holding for our Ones to Watch alumni. We have to say we were pretty chuffed with the booking and Sir Baz certainly didn't disappoint.

Sonali Shah chaired the proceedings with aplomb, as  the man that brought us Changing Rooms (and by default Laurence Llewelyn Bowen!), Food and Drink and of course Big Brother shared anecdotes and insight into his TV career.

He masterclass of sorts began with a potted history of the emergence of the independent TV sector in Britain, which in his view has contributed to UK being a leading cultural force in TV. Did you know that Britain accounts for more than half of the entertainment exports globally? That's an incredible £1.7 billion!

Sonali wasn't shy in probing Sir Baz about his mistakes and as well as successes.He candidly admitted that selling his indie to Endemol just three years after setting it up may not of been the shrewdest financial decision. Endemol subsequently went on to own the formats for some his most famous creations including  Ready, Steady Cook, which ran for 21 series.

However, no love was lost as Sir Baz became chief creative officer of Endemol. As the man in charge when Big Brother graced our screens, he had plenty of stories to share on one of the most controversial shows in recent times. He even admitted that he had personal doubts about the success of show. However, after spotting an article in The Times about Big Brother making waves in Holland he began to re-address and the rest is history.

Sir Baz holding court...
We were treated to hilarious and intimate anecdotes about celebrity chefs, PR disasters and angry Daily Mail reporters in the form of Quentin Letts. One of the most fascinating anecdotes Sir Baz shared was how the format for the reality show as we know it today came about. During a brain storming session, in a nameless meeting room in Endemol, a young development researcher posed the question ''what if we applied the format of a balloon debate to a TV series and voted people off one by one"? And what do you have, an international format that has undeniably changed TV landscape forever. So what was the name of that development researcher, now a successful producer, director and presenter I hear you ask? Well, that would telling...

True to their name our Ones to Watch alumni posed some challenging questions; from the role of the technology in today's TV landscape, to the crisis at the BBC and the lessons that the television industry can learn from the arts. Sir Baz certainly wasn't shy in coming forward with his opinion. He was particularly passionate about the role of the BBC in cultivating new talent and it's social and cultural impact on the UK, as well as a vociferous champion of the independent sector's ethos of collaboration and risk taking.

A chance to catch up with alumni past and present 
However the burning question we all really wanted know is what does Sir Baz settle down to watch during a night in on the sofa. Any guesses? A good Scandinavian drama and BBC news at 10.

Sadly after what seemed like only five minutes we had to wrap up and make way for the wine. Sir Baz certainly  left us all with some food for thought and judging by the buzz during the networking drinks it was a roaring success.

A special thank you to our sponsors of the evening, BECTU. You can read their blog about the event here. 

Remember if you apply for One to Watch then you could be attending fantastic masterclasses like this at the TV festival and at our alumni events throughout the year.

Apply HERE, the deadline for application is 12 May 2013.


  1. Do you remember when he asked the guy in the 3rd row to google something on his phone when we was talking about the impact of new media and technology on established modes of content delivery? It was some sort of 'law' or 'effect' and it was about how modes of delivery converge instead of replace each other. What was it called?!?! Been bugging me...

  2. Nice blog, and good conference hall also. I think if the meeting room is good then people feel comfort.