Last week’s Coventry Conversation hosted BBC Midlands’ main presenter, Nick Owen, where students had a lot to draw from his 32 years of screen experience.
With an impressive career, starting from ITV where he had the once in a life time chance to anchor the Olympic Games in 1988, World Cup in 1990 and many other sports events around the world, one would expect Owen to be used to the thrill and nervousness right before going on air. “You still get keyed up when you concentrate like hell when you’re about to go on air, but I’ve had lots of variety so I’m very lucky with that’’, he explained to the audience.
An important topic touched upon during the conversation was BBC’s plan to make all regional programs just the same as the national ones, making it that way impossible for the programs to be distinctive of one another. “The branding is seen as a very important part of it. Even the lightest stories, which sometimes people enjoy more, are being semi pushed aside. I think that’s a pity but that’s the way it is.” Writes Natasha De Silva…
Questioned on his opinion about television looking simpler than it actually is, Owen responded: “I don’t think it’s simple at all. You’re meant to feel that you’re chatting away and feeling very relaxed, but there is so much going on in your ear”.
When asked about the “ITV Curse”, where apparently ratings fall when presenters switch from ITV to BBC, Owen easily opposed it by saying: “At the BBC you don’t have to worry about commercial breaks. If you have to concentrate on the breaks, you do lose some of your spontaneity and flow because you are more worried about actual timing than content.”
Questioned on what was the most embarrassing moment of his career, the Baird Medal winner, recalled on a live television interview with former comedian, Pamela Stephenson, on it: “I had an operation on a slip disk. I was back at work but I was having to wear a sort of difficult almost like concrete corset with zips on it to keep my back in place while I was presenting. We had Pamela Stephenson on the show and she decided she needed a bit of extra publicity and suddenly said ‘I think Nick needs a bit of livening up’, and started to take my trousers off, which was all over the front pages the next day.”
At the end of the conversation Owen gave a valuable piece of advice to the students: “The most important thing in television is to be chatting to people at home as if you are chatting to each individual person’’. Adding: “Whatever you do, give a hundred and ten percent. It’s a bit of a cliché but really, give your heart and soul and do the best you can in anything and keep your eye open for the unusual opportunities’’.