Blogging has bought me many opportunities, and one of the more unusual was an invitation to find out what goes on behind the scenes at Ideal World TV – a British shopping channel, based in Peterborough.
It is a big set up – as well as the studios, Ideal World House houses the offices, warehouse and distribution, rather more than the 50 or so people I was expecting.
The channel broadcasts live, for 17 hours a day, 365 days a year, from one main studio that contains several different sets (main kitchen area above).
The majority of the building is taken up by offices, with piles and piles of sample merchandise, which is tested, and tested again before passing Ideal World’s stringent quality control tests – if the product is not deemed as excellent then they do not sell it – to make the grade it is tested, retested a multipage information pack written, and then the presenters of the show will take it home and use it extensively before going on screen for an hour with it. It is a reassuring business model, and is very different from the pile them high – sell them cheap model that some of their competitors use.
The producers sit behind banks of screens in a darkened control room, as each hour long show is broadcast live there is no margin for error and razor sharp concentration is needed. As sales are tracked in real time the team can easily identify what the triggers and features of the product that encourage people to buy are, and feed this back to the presenters. (I was once told in another studio that one of the key skills of a good live presenter is to be able to listen to the producer in your ear piece whilst keeping up a flow of conversation).
After our tour we had time to play with some of the products before having our own go at presenting – filmed but not on air – with some coaching from the presenters. The top tip is to learn to use the gadgets back to front, as that is how you will be presenting them, and if you get stuck for what to say just describe what is in front of you and what you are doing. Going in relatively blind – I had a soup maker and pressed go and nothing happened as I had not put the lid on properly – it was really quite tricky and I found the whole 5 minutes relatively difficult and in the manner of Just a Minute I would have failed on all three of hesitation, deviation and repetition! Preparation it seems is everything and hats off to the presenters for making it all look so amazingly easy.
Many thanks to Ideal World for a fun and informative day.