Archive for the ‘embarrassing bodies’ Tag

A cool million

Tonight we hit a cool million tests taken on My MindChecker, my first project post-sabbatical at Channel 4. That’s in just 8 days – it launched with the new (4th) series of Embarrassing Bodies: Live from the Clinic last Tuesday.

Today it made the front page of the Mail Online.

Today's Mail Online front page

Among the unembarrassing bodies on today’s Mail Online front page

I like the last line of this coverage in the Evening Standard:

Evening Standard 15.iv.14

Evening Standard 15.iv.14

And here’s a neat little piece from The Sunday Times:

Sunday Times 13.iv.14

Sunday Times 13.iv.14

The Autism Test we featured in last week’s show was done 63,000 times during the hour of the show and by 11pm (3 hours in) that had reached 100,000. The total now stands at 350,000 completed tests. These anonymised results will go to the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge for their on-going work at the cutting edge of autism spectrum disorder research.

Appiness

My most recent project, released last week to mark the start of Series 2 of Live from the Clinic, is 3 Embarrassing Bodies-branded iPhone apps. Here’s the story so far as related by Broadcast today:

Embarrassing Bodies apps near 400,000 downloads in one week

23 May, 2012 | By 

The new trio of Embarrassing Bodies iPhone apps have been downloaded nearly 400,000 times since the start of the new series of Embarrassing Bodies: Live from the Clinic last week.

The main app – My HealthChecker – has had over 300,000 downloads alone. The app includes new tests for eyesight, colour blindness tests, as well as memory and lung function tests. Users can track their results over time and compare them anonymously with the other users.

Sister app My MoleChecker has been downloaded 71,681 times since the launch of the new series, while My SelfChecker has been downloaded 15,061 times.

It is the first time the trio of apps have been made available on mobile and have been developed by Maverick Television, which is also producing the 8 x 60-minute show currently on air.

The MyHealthChecker app has topped the iTunes app store free download chart. C4 multi-platform commissioner Adam Gee, who ordered all three of the apps, said it represented an evolution of the show on mobile.

“Embarrassing Bodies has embraced mobile since the outset of the show but this represents a whole new generation of Embarrassing Bodies mobile through which viewers can do things which they can’t do on a laptop or any other device,” he said. “This trio of apps really makes the most of the portability, personalisation and privacy of smartphones.”

The web version of My HealthChecker has seen 450,000 people register and the Live from the Clinic site is estimated to have helped save the NHS around £662,000.

{Republished courtesy of Broadcast}

Embarrassing Bodies: Kids

Here’s an article from this week’s Broadcast. Embarrassing Bodies: Kids starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.

Embarrassing Bodies extends site to tackle children’s health

29 April, 2010 | By Robin Parker

Live & kicking

Channel 4 has unveiled yet another brand extension for the Embarrassing Bodies franchise: a website devoted to children’s health.

The site, to be hosted at channel4.com/kids, will feature exclusive videos and applications featuring the doctors from the main show and the four-part Embarrassing Bodies: Kids, which begins this week.

Producer Maverick has worked with Dr Dawn Harper to create the Development Milestones application, which enables parents to plot their child’s development and receive detailed advice on what to do if this process shows up
any abnormalities.

Parents will receive reminders as children hit further milestones and when they require immunisations and health checks.

A Kids Lifestyle Checker application analyses a child’s lifestyle and calculates risk levels for 13 key conditions, and offers personalised advice on making positive changes.

Dr Christian Jessen is fronting a series of videos billed as Should We Be Worried?, in which he explains the symptoms and remedies for more than 80 of the most common childhood illnesses.

The site will span health issues affecting children of all ages – from babies and toddlers to older kids – and will be integrated with government-funded health advice site NHS Choices.

C4 cross-platform commissioner Adam Gee said the site was launched to address the lack of high-quality video on the web tackling children’s health issues, with older kids particularly under-served.

Embarrassing Bodies’ established website, at channel4.com/ bodies, has been used by 6 million people to date and has attracted more than 6.5 million video views.

It is now in the running for a Bafta TV Craft award, opposite The Apprentice’s Predictor game, which was developed by Monterosa with Talkack Thames and the BBC; Objective Productions’ and Illumina Digital’s C4 education
project Science of Scams; and Who Killed Summer?, a web teen drama produced by Bigballs Films, MWorks and Hideous Productions.

The children’s website will go live next week, and on 14 May the established live web show Embarrassing Bodies Live will focus on children’s health.

Last month, Maverick unveiled a 4 x 60-minute extension to the brand, Embarrassing Fat Bodies, and won an 18-part recommission of the main show. Last year, it produced a special edition centred on old people.

[This article is reproduced courtesy of Broadcast.]

EBK in NMA

An article from New Media Age on Embarrassing Bodies: Kids which launches today at www.channel4.com/kids

Embarrassing Bodies: Kids

Embarrassing Bodies: Kids

Channel 4 and Maverick build site to help parents keep kids healthy

Jessica Davies

Channel 4 has launched a site Embarrassing Bodies: Kids to boost engagement with parents concerned about their children’s health.

The site at channel4.com/kids goes live today to coincide with the show’s broadcast. It features exclusive video and social applications providing more space for parents to share advice and experiences.

The broadcaster and production company Maverick TV hope to build up a community around the site, in turn boosting audience dwell time.

The first Embarrassing Bodies site, which won a BAFTA for interactivity, attracted 6m users and 6.5m video views, plus a further 9m via Channel 4’s official YouTube channels.

Adam Gee, cross-platform commissioner at Channel 4, said, “The original site was never really intended to build up a community per se, as people generally used it to follow up a specific issue and would then be directed to the best online or offline support group.

“The Kids site aims to increase engagement and time spent on it, as parents will be able to discuss a common interest: their children.”

The site has a Development Milestones application so parents can plot their child’s development over time and receive reminders when immunisations and check-ups are due.

The broadcaster has also opened up a range of advertising opportunities for the site, including creative sponsorships.

Channel 4 will host a special episode of Embarrassing Bodies Live on 14 May focusing on kids’ health, airing exclusively online at channel4.com/bodieslive.

[This article is reproduced courtesy of New Media Age.]

Sparking the imagination

Here are some extracts from an article on Creation Interactive which illustrates how Embarrassing Bodies is getting the healthcare industry to rethink how it communicates with patients and the public…

TV & Online: What can TV’s Embarrassing Bodies teach the healthcare industry?

With an outstanding level of online engagement during and after each programme, Embarrassing Bodies shows a strong correlation between relevant and challenging content and behaviour change.

A serious medical condition can make for uncomfortable discussions between friends and family.  But what if you suffer from an embarrassing illness, one you can’t share with your aunt, your workmates or you may even be too ashamed to speak to a medical professional about it?

In the UK, a television show has sparked the imagination of TV and internet viewers by getting people to talk about, share and understand medical and body conditions that some people might think are obscure, freakish or disgusting.

With over 4 million TV viewers and an outstanding level of online engagement during and after each programme, Embarrassing Bodies illustrates that:

  • Consumers are interested in everyday health, sickness and wellbeing
  • Engaging content can make difficult health subjects accessible through everyday language
  • People are willing to talk about personal and embarrasing health issues online
  • Access to senior physicians provides a platform for stimulating response
  • There is a strong correlation between relevant and challenging content and behaviour change

Embarrassing bodies TV series

Embarrassing Bodies was commissioned by Channel 4 as part of their public service remit to explore difficult personal medical issues. Since 2007 the factual entertainment series and website, produced by Maverick Television, has delivered on-screen diagnosis by the team’s professional medical presenters who explain complex medical conditions in an engaging way. They follow patients through their decisions and operations, showing life-changing stories as sufferers are relieved of burdens from illness they have lived with sometimes for many years.  Participants trust the show’s talented experts, who include Doctors Christian Jessen, Pixie McKenna and Dawn Harper who have become role models for General Practitioners.

The heart-rendering Charlotte’s Story told the journey of a child who’s ugly verrucas were diagnosed as a symptom of a life-threatening bone marrow condition. The broadcast had an incredible response: The Antony Nolan Trust saw a 5,000% rise in requests for information on Bone Marrow Transplant the day after transmission.

Embarrasing BodiesTV content from Charlotte’s Story includes close-up detail of surgery

The power of the web experience

The secret to the show’s success is its engaging web and interactive experience.  The website generated the highest ever web and mobile viewing figures for a Channel 4 show, garnering 1.2 million page views within 24 hours of a May 2008 broadcast. The show regularly attracts 150,000 viewers who engage during or after each episode.

Viewers respond to a powerful call-to-action from the TV broadcast to visit the website where they can explore the issues raised.  An Autism-Spectrum Test was accessed 38,000 times in less than a minute.

The show encourages viewers to take further action to safeguard their health by performing checks on their skin, breast and testicles, providing web resources for self-diagnosis.  The website regularly receives comments from those who have been motivated to act, like a woman who discovered a lump in her breast:

“Because I found it in very early stages, it hadn’t spread and my outlook is fabulous. Thank you for your clear way of showing people like me how to potentially save our own lives!”

The show has a presence in selected networks: through the TV broadcast, the website, and a Facebook group (which has 147,000 fans) which feeds key stories and links from the show’s main website.  The #embarrasingbodies hashtag is used by thousands of Twitter viewers during the show, although the show has no official Twitter presence.



Channel 4’s Cross Platform Commissioner Adam Gee believes the key to the series’ success is in combining talent and honesty in an entertaining and engaging form.

“If you want to talk about lactose intolerance, get their attention by talking about farting as a way into it.  Health information doesn’t need to be po-faced. It’s a good engaging route into ‘meat and two veg’ healthcare issues. The show’s very open, non-judgemental tone and human language creates a huge sense of reassurance that people aren’t alone, and also a sense of hope.”

Embarrasing Bodies

Embarrassing Bodies uses straight-talking everyday language to engage people about their health

Embarrassing Teenage Bodies targeting difficult-to-reach teenagers, generated a flood of 11,000 website comments showing confidence and changed attitudes. During the evening of the broadcast, 99,000 people took an online STI risk checker – engagement you would be unlikely to ever find in a sex education lesson at school.  This show generated many mobile downloads, suggesting that teenagers are more likely to access this type of content in private on mobile devices than on computers.

The website allows for anonymous interactions: users do not have to pre-register to submit their photos or questions or to comment, however, the team have launched a new strand with real identities, Embarrassing Bodies: Kids for worried parents that have a common interest in the welfare of the children.  Channel 4 have used the programme as a model for supporting the preventative public health agenda and experimenting with online interactivity.  They are currently developing a buddying system for people who suffer from the same chronic illness to support one another and share first hand experiences.

Embarrassing Bodies Live

This year the broadcaster took TV-to-web interactivity to the next level with Embarrassing Bodies Live – a web-only show directly after the TV broadcast. 42,000 viewers logged on to the site to pose questions to the team’s medical presenters. The live show aimed to do things that linear TV or a radio phone-in could not: responding directly to viewers questions and rewarding interaction through shaping the editorial.  Viewers submitted photos and questions anonymously then anyone could vote on those they wanted to be discussed, directly affecting the editorial in real time.  It took the conversations that were already happening on Twitter and spring-boarded them into a wider conversation.  #embarrassingbodies was the biggest trending topic on Twitter in the UK that night.

Developing Communities

Embarrassing Bodies has developed a sizeable community of interest, but it’s a transient rather than sticky community.  Adam Gee explains:

“You have to think carefully about what you’re doing with a community and not do the default thing to say let’s make a social network because they’re all the rage.  What kind of social network would be build around embarrassing illnesses except one of hypochondriacs? People don’t come with a common interest to a site like this: it’s a lot of small, temporary communities.  They arrive in a just-in-time, task-oriented way, looking for the condition they are worried about. They then hang out in the community just long enough to find which is the best support group or other help to plug into.

“The series has always connected to profession bodies, encouraging viewers to visit their General Practitioners and linking to the UK’s National Health Service Choices website. The destination sites are a stark contrast from the rich, engaging Embarrassing Bodies space. Suddenly, you’re in this white, stripped environment.  They are two poles of public service health – we need to recognise that it is one continuum: on one end are health professionals, on the other are communication professionals.  We spend all day finding ways to entertain and engage people, and they spend all day thinking about what is the correct medical procedure.”

Lessons for the healthcare industry

The website benefits exponentially from its springboard from a popular TV brand which regularly attracts up to four million television viewers. The challenge for the healthcare industry is to create its own springboards based on highly engaging content.

Embarrassing Bodies shows that rich media and interactivity can lead to deeper levels of engagement and changes in behaviour. Jonnie Turpie believes:

“Now that broadband accessibility and video steaming on the web is accessible to wider audiences there are increasing opportunities to make engaging interactive content and services. This enables digital media producers to deliver valuable health engagement, rather than simply health information, which may lead to greater prevention of illness.”



To make the most of digital engagement opportunities, television and online video should create a call-to-action to move audiences online and provide more in-depth information and medical solutions.  Embarrassing Bodies shows that promoting illness, no matter how difficult to discuss, in an approachable and human way and providing value for the user to progress their understanding, can capture attention and imagination, forming a first step in creating patient engagement.

[These extracts are reproduced courtesy of Creation Interactive. You can read the full article written by Susi O'Neill here.]

C4’s surreal Twitter experiments

Here’s a piece on integrating Twitter with TV courtesy of C21 Media, written by Jonathan Webdale:

SOCIAL MEDIA 2010: Channel 4 new media commissioner Adam Gee says Twitter saved the life of one of the channel’s documentary makers and is responsible for resocialising TV. Jonathan Webdale reports.

As a UK public service broadcaster, Channel 4 has a remit to innovate and over in its factual department that’s exactly what new media commissioner Adam Gee (left) has been doing with Twitter.

Gee, or @SurrealThing as he’s known to his followers (more on this later), cites four projects, each of which illustrates a different use of the micro-blogging service. The first came in July 2008 with Osama Loves, a multi-platform travelogue that sent two people off around the world to find 500 people named Osama in 50 days in a bid to counter Muslim stereotypes.

The journey included visits to places with limited internet and mobile network access, so the stripped down simplicity of Twitter 140-character updates offered a means for the protagonists to keep the narrative going.

“We knew we would have bandwidth issues when they were in the middle of Nigeria or some corner of Indonesia and we needed a different way of communicating, so we used Twitter to tell the story,” says Gee.

Similarly, Alone in the Wild, a series that last year followed documentary maker Ed Wardle’s attempts to survive in solitude when abandoned in the Yukon, also employed Twitter as part of its narrative.

While Wardle wasn’t allowed two-way communication with the outside world, he was permitted to tweet just once a day, partly as a way of adding further perspective to his experience, but also to allow the production team to keep tabs on his progress.

Wardle was trying to last three months in the wilderness but failed to find reliable sources of food and his physical and mental health deteriorated to the point where he had to be rescued after seven weeks.

In one of his Twitter posts he said he was losing weight so quickly that his muscles were disappearing. Another mentioned that his heart was at 32 beats per minute, when 60-100 is considered healthy.

“I can’t definitively prove it but it saved his life because when he started struggling psychologically it first became evident in his daily tweets,” says Gee.

Two other C4 shows drew on Twitter to shape their editorial direction in real-time. A year ago, Surgery Live was a series of four one-hour live operations that ran stripped across the week at 23.00. Viewers were able supply questions to the surgeon via Twitter while he was carrying out procedures such as removing a pituitary tumour or opening a heart.

“I’m pretty sure that this was the first time a UK broadcaster deliberately used Twitter and integrated it into a cross-platform project,” says Gee. It’s probably pretty safe to say as well that few broadcasters other than C4 would have chosen such as initiative to pop their Twitter cherry.

“The system was such that you could tweet a question and that question could get from your mobile or laptop to air in 90 seconds. We had to have a slight delay on the live feed in case something serious went wrong, but it was an absolute thrill to have such a direct impact on the programme.”

Gee himself tweeted in some questions from home on a couple of nights using his then anonymous handle. “Those were before the days when you had your actual name on the Twitter account,” he says. “The reason that my Twitter identity is SurrealThing is because when I first saw it about three years ago I thought it looked like the end of civilisation as we know it.”

But Gee decided that he needed to get to grips with Twitter if he was ever going to be able to commission anything that made use of it. “So I was a Surrealist for the first year, tweeting about melting watches and stuff like that. I couldn’t get what it was for. But over time what emerged was a tool waiting for a mission.”

Through the three experiments listed above he feels he’s now pretty clear about what that mission is, as far as broadcasters are concerned.

The fourth project he notes, Embarrassing Bodies: Live, took Surgery Live a step further, transforming what had been a two-screen experience for viewers into one. Ironically, however, it used a “Twitter-like” interface that ran on C4’s own website, rather than actually integrated filtered messages from the public Twitter feed.

“We didn’t want an un-moderated stream of stuff being published to the site and in that particular instance it was actually easier to build the functionality and integrate it into our moderation system than to use Twitter separately,” says Gee, though he doesn’t rule out direct tie-ups in the future.

Live broadcasts are definitely where he sees Twitter having its greatest applications but he notes that it’s not relevant to all programmes. “You’ve got to be careful what you build your Twitter cross-platform activity around because if it’s over-complex or requires too much concentration it’s not ideal. You actually want something you don’t have to concentrate on too hard,” he says, giving awards shows as a classic example.

As a general observation, Gee believes that C4’s Twitter experiments have helped crystallise exactly what the micro-blogging service’s mission is from a broadcaster’s perspective. “It’s resocialising TV,” he says. “Once, you might have chatted the next day over a shared big TV experience, but with the much more fragmented TV world we have now it replaces that – which I think is it’s greatest strength. That’s where the value for the channel is.”

Jonathan Webdale
27 Apr 2010
© C21 Media 2010

Please note: C21 Media provides free daily email bulletins and their site is a mix of free and paid for content. This article is reproduced courtesy of C21 Media – click here to register (top right) for their free daily email

Embarrassing Bodies: Live was nominated yesterday for a BAFTA TV Craft Award for interactive creativity

Embarrassing Bodies Live initial results

From Broadcast today
Embarrassing_Bodies_Live

Embarrassing Bodies live web show draws 42,000

12 February, 2010 | By Robin Parker

Channel 4’s first live interactive web show drew 42,000 viewers this week – putting it almost on a par with UKTV’s Watch.

Embarrassing Bodies Live enjoyed a strong lead-in at 10pm on Wednesday night, with its established non-live counterpart watched by 3.5m viewers in its closing minutes.

At 10pm, 42,000 viewers logged on to the site and C4 new media commissioning editor Adam Gee said there was “very little tail-off”.

In the opening ten minutes, this figure was in line with Watch, which had 44,700 people watching Dalzeil and Pascoe.

Viewers were directed to the website to discuss issues raised with the show’s presenters and upload comments and images relating to their own medical conditions.

C4 and Maverick Television received hundreds of questions and more than 100 images over the course of the interactive show, which ran for 28 minutes.

Every individual question and image that made it onto the live show received hundreds of votes to get it on screen.

The Twitter hashtag #embarrassingbodies was the biggest trending topic in the UK on the nitght.

On the same night, Embarrassing Bodies’ established website received 30,000 visits and 420,000 page views between 9pm and midnight.

The interactive show will be available to view online retrospectively from today. C4 plans two further live spin-offs of the show, to air in April and May.

[Article reproduced courtesy of Broadcast]

We all scream for Two Screen

Today’s Broadcast exploring Two-Screen Experiences with reference to Surgery Live and Embarrassing Bodies Live

Two-screen TV: terms of engagement

11 February, 2010 | By Robin Parker

Broadcasters are finding new ways of attracting the growing number of people who surf the web while they watch TV. Robin Parker taps into the world of two-screen entertainment.

Broadcasters and producers looking to hold on to the communal experience of TV are increasingly turning to the very threat most readily associated with fragmenting audiences.

The web is fast becoming the place to bring an extra dimension to, and make money from, live TV viewing by capitalising on many viewers’ habit of peering at the set over their laptops.

Reasoning that viewers are talking with their peers on social networks and Googling shows, broadcasters want to own the space – and find ways of harnessing this conversation to inform the content of their programmes.

To date, ‘two-screen’, as the trend is known, has been dominated by live web chats to support ITV franchises such as Dancing On Ice and The X Factor, which attract up to 20,000 people a time, and play-along games for shows such as The Apprentice and Four Weddings.

But players in this field forecast an acceleration of interest this year and expect the forthcoming General Election and football World Cup to take the trend to new heights.

Last week saw former ITV exec Jeff Henry launch an ambitious ‘live linking’ service that sent viewers of Five’s US drama Num3rs to 160 websites featuring material relevant to the unfolding narrative.

This week, Channel 4 takes this development to its next logical step with its first ‘one-screen’ interactive experience: a live web show spin-off of Embarrassing Bodies.

Some might argue that enabling a web audience to interact with the show by asking questions and to vote in polls is merely a 21st-century extension of radio and TV phone-ins, but C4 crossplatform commissioner Adam Gee argues that this is reductive.

As Embarrassing Bodies Live unfolds, the studio feed will be dictated by the volume and nature of viewers’ questions, photos and comments. “Our one rule of thumb is that if the interactive element could be done on a digital channel or a radio phone-in, it’s out,” he says. “Those are not networked conversations and they’re not personalised.

“What separates the men from the boys is to take an existing behaviour, such as on Twitter, and spring-board off that into a conversation that has impact on the editorial.”

The web show is the culmination of 18 months of experimentation conducted by Gee, much of it involving Twitter. The highest-profile case, Surgery Live (see box below), became Twitter’s number one trending topic when it aired last May. Another, Alone In The Wild, was, says Gee, an “asynchronous” two-screen experience that opened up the production process before the show aired. It enabled a networked conversation – but one that excluded Ed Wardle, the isolated figure in the series.

Gee believes simplicity is best and thinks two-screen is effective for shows with “a certain wallpaper quality”. He adds: “If Big Brother were starting now, it would totally be in this territory.”

Where it goes wrong, he says, is when too much “unmoderated noise” renders the content incoherent, citing Bad Movie Club, a Twitter experiment backed by the likes of Graham Linehan and Phill Jupitus, in which followers watched the same movie and tweeted their thoughts as it played.

Thirst for information

In the spirit of DVD audio and text commentaries, Henry’s TellyLinks.com is the latest way to feed viewers’ thirst for more information. At launch, it acts like a micro-Google, connecting viewers with external links providing everything from information on an actor to background news stories and details of a show’s setting.

In time, it hopes to sell these links, enabling an advertiser to reach some viewers of regular shows such as the BBC’s Top Gear. Last week’s launch saw the site crash under what Henry says was “overwhelming demand”, which his team is trying to address.

Similarly, Maverick recently provided a Twitter commentary to HBO Iraq war drama Generation Kill as it played out on C4, in which followers of the hashtag #gk were offered definitions of about 60 technical military terms per episode, plus background context on the war that linked through to sites such as Channel 4 News.

The idea came to Maverick’s head of new media, Dan Jones, when he watched the show in the US. “While I loved it, it was hard to follow all the dialogue and I was looking up stuff online after each episode,” he says. “We designed a glossary that you could, if you chose, ignore most of, but you could look whenever you wanted to check something.”

The audience for this was in the mere hundreds but they were, he says, “really engaged”.

Maverick has also started working with talent on this, using Kirstie Allsopp’s love of Twitter to get the presenter to link to craft courses and contributors’ sites during the transmission of Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas.

Financial incentives

“It’s low cost and this casual engagement becomes financially worthwhile as you’re directing people to advertising-supported sites like C4’s 4homes. com,” Jones adds.

Meanwhile, having pioneered simple play-a-long tools for The Apprentice, Come Dine With Me and Living shows such as Four Weddings, digital specialist Monterosa is also eyeing the commercial opportunities.

“Some of the biggest brands are measuring their marketing spend by engagement,” managing director Tom McDonnell says. “In shows with commercial breaks, there’s a huge opportunity to reach people waiting for shows – and games – to come back on.”

He believes the games reward viewer loyalty and help a pre-recorded show feel ‘live’. While less than 1% of the audience played along, as much as 80% of these watched every episode. Moreover, he says, “it’s about giving the broadcaster an authoritative role in viewers’ behaviour. Channels like Living have to feel interactive.”

Mint Digital has, under its own steam, developed its own play-a-long game – a fantasy football variant called Football 3s – and is now discussing with ITV how to exploit it for the World Cup.

Product manager Utku Can Akyuz believes the tournament, along with the election, will be the testing ground for two-screen, but feels it will remain a minority interest in the short term.

“I don’t want to go down the path where the only way to watch a show is with a second screen,” he says. “It’s a challenge for writers and producers to create hooks for it without being too overt.”

Another challenge, he says, will be adapting the experience for timeshifted viewing. Mint is prototyping a debate tool that time-indexes each comment made through a broadcast, then overlays them on a show on a catch-up site such as iPlayer so that viewers watching later can get a sense of the experience.

He also wants to finesse the feel of two-screen. “We’re looking at how to design it for peripheral vision – using colours or sounds so you can see things change, but you can decide whether or not to look down at your laptop.”

Which begs a bigger question: with Project Canvas on the horizon, bringing interactivity to the TV set, will two-screen have had its day? Players in this space think not, arguing that the peculiar mix of a personal and shared experience will live on.

“A lot of TV viewing is done with more than one person in the room,” says McDonnell. “Wouldn’t it be pretty annoying if dad was obscuring the TV just to play a game?”

SURGERY LIVE
C4 OPENS THE DEBATE

Windfall Films’ week-long Channel 4 series Surgery Live, which covered live operations from a surgical theatre, was the first significant and deliberate attempt by a UK broadcaster to involve Twitter and Facebook in shaping the editorial. Backed by a Wellcome Trust grant for online development, it asked viewers to become virtual students and tweet the questions and comments they would give if they were in the room with the doctors.

“It was a digital media literacy opportunity,” says C4 cross-platform commissioner Adam Gee. “We couldn’t assume people knew how to use Twitter, and this helped get them acquainted.”

More than 10,000 questions and comments arrived via Twitter and Facebook over the course of the week and the best got to the surgeon within two minutes. By the final night, it was Twitter’s biggest trending topic in the world and the Facebook group counted 5,000 members. Given that the show itself was only accessible in the UK, this was no mean feat and Gee counted surgical students, doctors and health charities among the interested audience who continue to discuss the issue online nine months on.

“It was a great opportunity to experiment,” Gee concludes. “It amplified what was going on and we took some real steps forward by initiating a broad range of debates on medical issues with a community that developed in a completely organic way.”

[Article reproduced courtesy of Broadcast]

Bodies is back with a bang

embarrassing bodiesEmbarrassing Bodies came back for a new series last night with a fabulous show covering everything from lactose intolerance to autism. Big up to the Maverick team!

And online it’s been an incredible 24 hours…

  • We had over 198,000 visits in the first day
  • 38,000 viewers came online in just one minute! (in response to the autism item)
  • There were over 637,000 pageviews within two hours of broadcast – over 1.21M for the day
  • We trended #2  on Twitter (UK)

The stampede online was to try out Professor Simon Baron-Cohen‘s Autism-Spectrum Quotient or AQ Test. We’d had over 50,000 results reported back by the time I left the orifice this evening. Simon told me EB was “very original” – sounds like that could be euphemistic. He was a Big Boy when I was at school and I hung out with his younger brother Ash, now a guerilla/out-there film-maker in LA.

Yesterday I met another Big Boy from school days – Pete Bradshaw, now the film critic of The Guardian. We were judging the Single Drama award at the RTS (Royal Telly Society). My abiding memory of him is playing (very well) Thomas Becket in TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. After watching 30 hours of TV drama over the last couple of days I reckon my AQ should be soaring right now…

Update 5.ii.10:

Another Big Boy back in the day was Mark Kermode (back then Mark Fairey), co-star of the always amusing Radio 5 weekly film review show and a regular on Film4. He’s doing a gig next week (Friday 12th at 7.45) at the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley (where we’re still trying to raise the last bit of cash to pay for our centenary restoration this year) talking about his life in cinema which should be a good way to kick off your weekend. He was the one who got kicked out of Cannes for heckling in bad schoolboy French.

From 2-screen to 1-screen

Embarrassing Bodies

Opening up possibilities...

Off shortly to a gathering at Maverick TV to prepare for our ground-breaking live switchover show on 10th Feb. The significance of this experiment is that it is taking pioneering 2-screen televisual experiences like Surgery Live and streamlining them to a single screen containing both the video and interactivity (see screenshot in my last post  Bodies Live).

Here’s how it was reported this week in New Media Age:

Channel 4 spins off live web show from Embarrassing Bodies series

21 January 2010 | By Charlotte McEleny

Channel 4 is broadcasting an interactive live web show as part of the
Embarrassing Bodies series.

The broadcaster and production company Maverick TV will stream a live
programme directly after the TV show allowing viewers to influence the
content. Channel 4 said 150,000 people already engage online during or after
the episodes.

The content of Embarrassing Bodies: Live will come from the viewers, who can
comment, vote, submit content and have their health problems diagnosed live.

Each show will also feature a live health check to follow at home, such as a
breast or testicle examination.

Adam Gee, cross-platform commissioner at Channel 4, said, “We wanted to do
something that took complete advantage of being on the web, so anything that
has gone into the show shouldn’t be possible to do on linear digital TV.”

Users can interact in real time via the channel4.co.uk/bodies site but also through
social networks including Twitter and Facebook.

The web show will start after the second episode of the current series, which
airs on 10 February.

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