Television: do it yourself

14th September 2001 at 01:00

BBC1, Fridays at 5pm from September 14 to October 19

If you followed the arrow on the "DIYTV Office" notice on the fifth floor of BBC Television's East Tower last month, you'd have come across an unusual scene. In an office, a group of children were looking busy while a few outnumbered adults (a cameraman and a couple of chaperones) looked on.

The team of 10 to 15-year-olds, from a variety of homes from Scotland to Cornwall, had been chosen by the BBC from 8,000 applicants and were spending August "learning about television by making their own show", in the words of a BBC publicist.

The whole operation, from the initial selection procedure onwards, was recorded by BBC cameras to make a six-part documentary series, DIYTV. The first episode can be seen this evening.

The children have been allotted all the roles necessary to make a programme -nbsp; not only presenting but research, design, direction and so on. They have had training and mentors for their given tasks.

"We told them, 'here's a studio, there'll be an audience in a month's time. You do what you like with that'," explains executive producer Roy Milani. "It could be a stand-up comedy show, a music show, a science show. It was entirely up to them."

So, how were they getting on? "We're all working as a team, we're all friends," said 14-year-old director Sadie Done, from Verdin high school in Cheshire. Cameraman Wyndham Richardson, also 14, from Truro school in Cornwall, was more guarded. "We're getting on better than we were at the beginning."

So is this where the public-service ethos of Children's BBC meets the "reality television" trend, exemplified in such ratings-chasers as Castaway, Big Brother and Popstars ? For Roy Milani, there's no comparison. He sees DIYTV as "not at all" like other reality TV shows. "The kids are very much in control here, and we try to be as transparent as possible and let them get on with it."

  • Picture: the DIY team at work
    • A longer version of this feature appears in this week's Friday magazine

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