posted by Ian Russell

Apples and Pears

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to attend the BAFTA TV Awards at the Royal Festival Hall. Better still, it was because I was one of the nominees; Stargazing Live: Brit in Space was up for the award in the Live Event category. Our fellow nominees were Big Blue Live, The Sound of Music Live! and The Vote; an event, a musical and a play all created especially for TV and our live broadcast from a party at the Science Museum, celebrating a rocket launch in Kazakhstan and it's journey carrying British Astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station, 200 miles above the Earth - all of which was most definitely not created for TV.

A criticism of awards ceremonies, especially in as broad a category as Live Event, is how do you pick a winner from such disparate entries? How do you compare apples against pears? The answer, in BAFTA's case, is simple: the single criterion by which programmes should be judged is excellence. It sounds straightforward enough but in practice, what does this mean? 

As they have been selected from a long-list of top quality competition, all four nominated programmes exhibit so much that is excellent, it is nearly impossible to pick a winner. But how did we rate our chances? The Stargazing team weren't too hopeful of winning and when talking to the other nominees it became apparent they didn't think they'd won either. Maybe each team was only too aware of the inevitable luck that had helped them, the usual list of things they'd like to have been better and what, with hindsight, they'd have liked to have done differently. To each of us, our programmes were imperfect and the other nominees' shows were much closer to being excellent.

It might be trite but I guess it's what ends up on the screen and how the audience react to the programme that matters and it's this that the jurors have to debate. In my experience when sitting on awards juries, it's all taken very seriously and the discussion surrounding the entries is fascinating. Not everyone agrees but it's always interesting to hear other people's views. 

This time, we didn't win but I don't envy the jurors who had to make the decision. It wasn't so much apples and pears but a whole basket of fruit they had to pick between - so congratulations must go to Big Blue Live! Although us Stargazers were naturally disappointed, it really was an honour to get into that basket and we had a great night out rubbing shoulders with the stars. My one tip for future nominees - try not to tread on any dresses as you make your way along the red carpet!