Brides and Prejudice, A Royal Wedding and Get Your Show Idea to the Screen
Talk is all over the media of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Spring Wedding and this young Royal Couple can certainly expect a lot of attention in the up and coming months.
All this current wedding fever takes me back to the Spring of 2011 when as a Producer at Sky Channel 199 I wrote Produced and Directed the TV Series “Why Should I Get Married?
Timed to coincide with the Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton we explored the drop in the marriage statistics discovered that year, visited The National Wedding Show at Earls Court and interviewed couples from all over the country about the pros and cons of married life.
Back in 2011 the marriage statistics were severely depressed but the Wedding Industry seemed to be thriving. Designers Candy Antony were displaying their 1950s Wedding dresses on the day and they took time out to help us and discuss with us how they met and fell in love whilst working at Hyper Hyper in Kensington High Street.
Back when I had the idea for the documentary I was not entirely convinced I would get the show commissioned. I had decided in 2010 when I had the idea for writing and Producing the show, to bring a broadcast Digital Camera EX3 to the Wedding Show and (together with my cameraman) film several fashions shows and randomly interview guests and Exhibitors as potential Contributors.
The hall was packed and you would have no idea that there was any dip in marriage interest judging by the speed at which money was exchanging hands. These sample interviews and Catwalk fashion show were the basis of my pitch to the Channel and I am still surprised at how many of the original characters and interviews we managed to keep for the broadcast transmissions.
“As with any TV project, research plays a valuable part.”
Once the show was commissioned we then went back and researched more contributors to provide the balance and counter story about the rising divorce rates.
As with any TV project, research plays a valuable part. When pitching to any channel be prepared to allow time to research much more than you actually need. This part of the legwork is often unpaid “pre-production” and you need to be prepared to do it to show your commitment, especially if you are from outside of the channel or production company.
With “Why Should I Get Married?” once we were given the go ahead we spent months researching contributors before we fell upon GMTV’s Vanessa Lloyd Platt who was an excellent find. Vanessa had some great Divorce stories to tell, including her own unfortunate split from her husband. This side of the show proved a vital component in telling the full story of Marriage in the UK.
The Creative Concept
The other thing that proved an essential part of the documentary was the visual concept. The show’s titles graphics and artwork were fun, cheeky and inspired by the 1980s sitcom Soap and it’s the one thing that people always approach me to talk about.
Soap was a sitcom about two sisters from two families the Tates and the Campbells and the TV hit had titles featuring the two families fighting acrimoniously before cheesily posing for their posed family photograph. The still photos hid the friction and rivalry that ran through the two sister’s family.
My promo –in a similar fashion – showed three couples posing for their glossy family wedding photos – all with captions highlighting their inner concerns about taking the plunge.
The show’s theme music, “I Want You to Love Me” was a track I chose from AudioNetworks and this theme was so catchy people were sure it had been specially written for the show.
Offline edited by myself I was really lucky to get the Award Winning Editor Andrew Webber to online this show and one tip I would always share is a great Editor is worth his weight in gold. Andrew with his impeccable creativity, impossibly high standards and loads of patience for our long days and my (sometimes dodgy camera work) meant I was really relieved and happy when we finally got to the finished product.
The Audience Response
The show was transmitted on the Friday 29th April 2011, the day of Prince William and the then Catherine Middleton’s Wedding and it was so popular that the Channel COO requested we repeat it again the following week.
Til this day I maintain the success of the show really was down to the subject of weddings – which is always extremely popular, the authenticity and diversity of the talent and contributors as well as the way we treated the subject matter: with humour and honesty.
Relevance & Authenticity
Relevance and authenticity are something I believe always resonates with people and something I always recommend when you are thinking of a subject matter for a TV Show.
As a perennially Single lady, Why Should I Get Married? was an important subject for me to investigate and so I was unafraid to publically challenge the norms surrounding marriage and as a result, despite its low budget in broadcast terms, it has always been one of my proudest TV moments.
In terms of relevance today’s marriage statistics tell a similar story to 2011…… and yet again we see the same thing with TV, Radio and mainstream press all going into overdrive and as the news hits that the Wedding is scheduled for Windsor Castle in May.
So whilst we are due to spend many months poring over every single detail of the Royal couples lives and plans for their big day let’s hope we don’t lose our respect for the sanctity of marriage and our realism that such a wonderful and special union for some people is not always right for everyone.
Michelle Brooks is a TV Producer and Director with Twenty years experience in TV and Content Creation. With articles published in The Voice, Pride Magazine and BECTU Magazine Michelle has been interviewed on the BBC Radio and is also the Founder and Director of Showpatrol.TV in West London