Media

To Hull and back

To Hull and back

I am currently working in Hull, as Digital Video Producer on a four-person team set up specifically to cover the events taking place as part of the City of Culture year.

It’s very exciting to be at the centre of what is an unprecedented move by the BBC to significantly focus its content around Hull this year. If we get it right, we’ll be setting the standard for how the BBC can come alongside future Cities of Culture and similar events.

My job specifically is to celebrate what’s happening in video form. This usually involves attending events with Kofi Smiles – a brand new presenter who comes from Hull and was specifically selected for this – and trying to give our viewers a taste of what’s happening. I do the filming and editing, and direct Kofi to make sure we’re getting the best results possible.

One of the key challenges is that we’re not just digital or just TV. In fact, on a regular basis we’re creating content for social media, our City of Culture website, local TV news, a longform programme on the national BBC News Channel, and radio. And yes, I do mean at the same time. I don’t think there are many other teams of this size, in the BBC or elsewhere, who are working across such a diverse range of platforms. If you want to know more about how that works, feel free to buy me a pint some time!

Most of my work in Hull can be found on the BBC’s City of Culture website.

The BBC's webpage for Hull 2017 UK City of Culture
All City of Culture-related content by my team (and the rest of the BBC) is being collected on this designated page, part of BBC Arts.

Reykjavík to Hull: A tale of two cities

Reykjavík to Hull: A tale of two cities

I’m really proud of this film, which I wrote, directed, shot and edited. Iceland has a huge number of cultural links with Hull, which are being celebrated during its City of Culture year. I headed up to Reykjavík with a small but perfectly formed team (Kofi Smiles and Martha Mangan) to explore these connections.

This VT was one of several I’ve been making for a series of half-hour features called Britain’s City of Culture, produced by the local Look North team for BBC News Channel. This episode, as well as being shown on the News Channel several times, went out on BBC One in Yorkshire and BBC World News.

bbc.co.uk/programmes/p050psm5

Reykjavík to Hull: A tale of two cities
I used an iPhone for several of the shots, but don't tell the TV bosses that!

New Strings Attached Medley

New Strings Attached Medley

I love making new videos with these guys. This one is a medley of 500 MilesI Really Like YouLike I Love You and Keep On Movin’, to celebrate our hitting 500 likes on Facebook. As well as playing cello, I did most of the filming and editing.

When I met Ellen DeGeneres and she told me off

When I met Ellen DeGeneres and she told me off

This was one of my favourite days ever: getting to meet the absolute star that is Ellen DeGeneres, and produce an interview between her and Lindsey Russell for Finding Dory.

As it’s Blue Peter, we don’t tend to go for straight, sit-down interviews, so I thought it would be fun to play a game based around Dory’s problems with short term memory loss.

Unfortunately Ellen didn’t quite understand the format, and it fell apart spectacularly. I felt gutted at the time, as these ‘press junket’ interviews are very quick and very high-pressured, so you can’t afford to mess up. But when I watched the rushes back I realised that if I packaged them in the right way (and could persuade my bosses to get on board) this could be a really popular clip.

As it turned out, it became my most successful ever clip on the bbc.co.uk platform, and did pretty well on YouTube too.

"Is this all you have...?!"

The unexpected Jesus character in Game of Thrones, or “Why I Cried Loads at Last Night’s GoT” (spoilers for S6E5)

The unexpected Jesus character in Game of Thrones, or “Why I Cried Loads at Last Night’s GoT” (spoilers for S6E5)

As a Christian, the stories that have the most impact on me are the ones that resonate with the Jesus narrative. There are lots of them – anything with themes of innocence, self-sacrifice and resurrection is probably, ultimately, based on the story of Jesus. Gandalf and Aslan are two of the most famous examples, but once you start thinking about these themes you start spotting them everywhere. As Bagheera says in The Jungle Book, “Greater love hath no one than he who lays down his life for his friend.” (Jesus also said that, by, the way, in John 15.) This explains why I bawled my eyes out at the end of last night’s episode. To be clear, this is not normal for me; I very rarely cry, ever, but when I do it’s often because of the kinds of stories mentioned above. I cried because Hodor relates directly to Jesus, and what he did echoed one of the most important moments in history. Here’s why.

Firstly, Hodor was completely innocent. He did nothing in his life, as far as we know, to deserve a death like that. The Bible compares Jesus to a lamb being led to the slaughter, which seems a very fitting description for Hodor. Ned Stark and Jon Snow also gave their lives for what they believed in, but Ned wasn’t entirely innocent and Jon didn’t go to his death deliberately, which brings me to my next point.

What really struck me about that scene was how Hodor seemed to know exactly what was coming; he knew he was about to die. Right from when Bran warged into him as a teenager, I think he was fully aware of what he was destined to do. When he breaks down at the foot of the weirwood tree and refuses to move, this isn’t just Hodor being scared of everything as per usual, this is a man justifiably terrified of what he knows is about to happen. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before his crucifixion, Jesus pleaded with God to take the horrible task away from him. Eventually, though, he resolved to go and see it through to the bitter end. He allowed that one moment to happen that would define his life, and that his whole life had been leading to.

So Hodor suffered brutally, taking the full force of the Army of the Dead (in all their creepy scuttling nastiness) in place of his friends. His love for them and his attitude of complete servanthood was stronger than his fear, and he paid the price so his friends could be free. If it sounds familiar, then it should. This absolutely reflects the Gospel story: Jesus’ death was an extraordinary act of love and sacrifice, the fulfilment of a rescue plan designed to restore mankind’s broken relationship with God.

The parallels stop there, though. Although Hodor knew what was going to happen, we don’t know if he would still have held the door had Bran not been warging into him in that moment. Hodor is presumably not going to be resurrected, although we can never rule these things out. Also, remember that Hodor would not have done what he did for just anyone. He served the Starks wholeheartedly throughout his life, and was possibly in love with Lyanna. But Jesus gave his life for literally everyone, even people who hated him. This would be a ridiculous thing to put in a fictional story, because it simply does not make sense to us. It’s illogical, unthinkable and unreasonable. That’s why it’s called amazing grace.

Hodor.

Hodor.