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Guest Blog: BBC TV Coverage of the Oliviers

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I have just finished a four hour marathon tweeting session for Whatsonstage.com from the privacy of my own home in Salford, as Andrew Girvan and Terri Paddock attempted to do the same from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Why? The Oliviers were broadcast live on BBC radio and television so my role was to be the man on the sofa commenting on the action. My fingers may be sore and judging by all your tweets, I am not the only one.

But, what of the televised coverage of the awards themselves? Well, to begin with once you had pressed your red button and found the live coverage, there were teething problems. You could hear outside broadcaster Jodie Prenger outside the theatre but you could not see her. People were advising her where to stand and what to say but unbeknown to them, this was being broadcast. Then, when someone realised, we then lost the sound altogether.

Filmed radio is as pointless as it sounds but this is what we got. Cut to Paul Gambacini talking to Matt Wolf from the International Herald Tribune as we eavesdrop them musing about the runners and riders and interviewing winners. Great, you may think as you get a different perspective but this was going on as awards were being announced. So, at one point theatre fans were either tweeting in disgust or turning over to Dancing On Ice.

Performance-wise Elena Roger and Adrian Lester were both superb and Barry Manilow livened up the show. And it was a thrill to see Angela Lansbury singing live. But due to the chopping and changing, the awards themselves were very patchy. Of course, there were some worthy winners - Sheridan Smith, Stephen Sondheim and David Thaxton among them. But, many of these moments were missed as someone decided that there was a hirearchy of awards wins. So many of the technical nods were missed in favour of listening to Jodie interview the likes of Gary Lineker.

The Oliviers provides theatre with three great platforms - radio, TV and the internet and strangely the web won. Lessons for next year would be to split the coverage, saving interviews for afterwards and not to interrupt the coverage too much as it makes for disorientating TV and leaves viewers feeling cheated.

We asked you what you thought of the TV coverage and @jordanlivesey said: "Great to see some sort of coverage but separating TV and radio needs to be on the list next year." Meanwile @2006mrsb said: "It was apalling. I gave up!" In contrast @joelle_O said: "Just finished watching the Olivier awards after three hours. That's how much I love musical theatre."

Whatever you thought of the show overall and the way it was produced, there is no doubting it needs to be on television as it's a great way of bringing theatre into people's living rooms. But, it needs to be as slick as many of the shows which won these prestigious awards.

- Glenn Meads

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