Jan 22 2008

Big Cat Week – does it still work in the earlier slot of 5.45pm/5.30pm.

Published by at 5:20 pm under Big Cat Diary

The Diaries have lost their traditional 7.00pm slot on BBC1 now occupied year round by the One Show. Big Cat Diary started life in 1996 on BBC1 and then migrated to BBC2 on Sunday aftertoons. This was popular with familes. When BCD moved to BBC1 and became BC Week it doubled its audience. Nobody is sure where the show will fit in future scheduling. The idea is that this year we might go ‘live’ from the Mara in Sept 2008 – but having worked with Julian Pettifer on the series of live shows from the Mara in 1989 we are not sure how effective this might be – would it be any more appealing than they way we film BCW now which as a reality based show has a ‘live’ feel already?

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Big Cat Week – does it still work in the earlier slot of 5.45pm/5.30pm.”

  1. Maramanon 19 Mar 2008 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been a fan of Big Cat Diary/Week since it started in 1996 – mainly because I’ve been interested in African big game since the days of Armand & Michaela Denis in the 1950s (that dates me!). As the series progressed, it developed more of a live feel especially when it moved to the five nights-a-week format as Big Cat Week, probably becaue it became more instant and we didn’t have to wait 5 or 6 weeks to know what happened to the characters.

    To answer the question in your heading, the scheduling of the One Show has effectively scuppered BCD’s potential appeal as a family show simply because most families just aren’t around as a unit at 5.40pm which was the time it was screened in the new year. Coupled with this, I think it has succumbed too much to the current fashion of breaking each programme into very short sequences. I suspect this is done as a way of artificially dramatising what happens but perhaps the editors should let the action speak for itself; however, I accept that this appeals to those with limited concentration spans! If we compare BCD to a similar programme – Elephant Diaries – the two editors took different approaches and I found the latter more “grown up” both in terms of the information imparted and the way it handled the inevitable emotional aspects (and I certainly have no objection to their inclusion). In appealing to families, I doubt that Elephant Diaries had any fewer younger viewers.

    Dealing with your later question on appeal, I’m intrigued as to how the proposed live programme will work given the time differences with the UK – 2 hours ahead of us in September and early October which is when I understand filming and broadcast will take place. I heard it might be shown at 8pm. I hope there will at least be some filming done in daylight hours as I fear that looking at animals coming down to waterholes at night to drink might get a tad boring. Without more information on the content and the mix of “live” and “almost live” it’s difficult to comment on how effective it might be.

    My personal preference would be for shows on the lines of the 2004 & 2006 editing and shown at 7pm but I realise things need to move on – and it is of course the BBC programme schedulers that control things at the end of the day.

    Whatever happens, I’m sure I’ll still be glued to the TV when it’s shown.


  2. Jonathan and Angieon 18 Sep 2008 at 1:09 am

    Hi Bob – there is a lot of sense in what you say – I think that television sometimes misses a beat by trying to be ‘entertaining’ and shying away from making room for serious comment – we would often like to talk about conservation or explore more fully some aspect of behaviour we are watching unfold – but it usually ends up on the cutting room floor – the audience isn’t interested or ‘that’s too boring’ or you will switch people off, are some of the reasons given for this. We head to the Mara again on Saturday for Big Cat Diary Live – and yes, it will go out at 8.00pm in the UK. But rest assured we are acutely aware of the pitfalls of live television and will be showing packages of daytime sequences as well as live links each day. We all feel that it is the animal stories that the audience love most – the sense of connection to individual cats – and we are determined to try and keep that uppermost in our Producers minds. To be honest I don’t think that there would have been another series of BCD unless something changed – your comments hint at the need for change, and as successful as BCD has been it is important to try and keep moving forward. Only you – the audience will decide if we are successful this year with the Live format – because if it is a big success the BBC have promised that we will be back again next year. If not……..at least there will be a new book that we are currently working on for publication next September – Stars of Big Cat Diary will provide a behind the scenes and more personal look at the past 12 years filming BCD.

  3. Danon 01 Jan 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I really enjoy big cat week and im sure that is doesn’t matter what time it is on, people will still be eager to watch it.

    Is there going to be any more big cat week dvds? I have series 1-4 and i love them and i would love it the fifth series was to be released on dvd.

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