Broadcast Revolution brings you the BBC’s beating heart: The One Show

  • DateAug 18, 2021
  • LocationStudio

Broadcast Revolution brings you the BBC’s beating heart: The One Show

This week, we had the pleasure of hosting our latest Broadcast Revolution Q&A event with Rob Unsworth, Head of BBC One’s The One Show. Pairing our guest up with our own BBC veteran, Mike Young, meant we were guaranteed a deep and insightful perusal of the much-loved flagship programme and how it acts as “the shop window for the BBC.”

Taking the helm in March 2020 as the world was being turned upside down meant Unsworth was faced with the opportunity to “clear the decks,” as he put it, and shift the programme to where it needed to be.

This was no easy feat.

With the show immediately following an hour of news, the challenge was to retain its currency whilst not showing yet more news. This required a careful knitting together of current, meaningful stories that have heart; an ethos that is now very much weaved into the fabric of the show.

For one and for all

When asked about a typical One Show viewer, Unsworth’s answer was simple. It is a family show for everyone. During the last 18 months, like many broadcasters, the show witnessed a surge in new viewers, many of them young. It still boasts a health daily average of 3.5million post-lockdown and Unsworth continues to be heartened by the number of emails he receives from audience members who have watched the show for the first time.

Yet, it’s a careful balance of not alienating its audience of 15 years whilst welcoming new faces. The other challenge in trying to reach the broadest possible audience is that there are very few names who are universally famous to everyone (asides from the Queen), yet what this breadth beautifully allows is the opportunity to introduce new topics to certain groups of people.

Unsworth spoke of an email he received from a viewer who thanked the programme for their feature on Pride Month which focused on the experiences of an individual who was black and gay. The conservative viewer stated he otherwise would not have been educated on this person’s experiences. The show’s ability to take its audience to new places is one of its core purposes, and one that PRs should ponder on.

Stories that have heart, purpose, and relevance  

There are few areas that the show doesn’t cover. The small point Unsworth made early on was that being a family show, they wouldn’t cover topics that you couldn’t discuss in front of a child watching (no stories revealing the truth about Father Christmas!).

The first question Rob counter offers to the question he is asked about whether a story works for The One Show: Could you see this story in the newspaper?

Any story they are covering on the show must have currency and shouldn’t look like it could have been covered anytime over the last six months.

The second question: If so, which newspaper?

If it’s a business story in a broadsheet or if it’s high-level insight on a political situation, it isn’t for The One Show. Unsworth gave a recent example of a feature they covered on climate change (a topic which is very important to the show and will continue to be as we approach COP26) and they focused on eco-friendly hairdressers and people who were renting their Christmas trees every year. Real stories about the everyday changes people can make in order to do their part for the environment is key for them.

Awards linked to another company was another feature that has a place on the One Show IF it’s significant to people. He referenced Co-op’s Neighbour of the Year Awards and the Shed of the Year Awards; both of which involved local communities and had that all important ingredient: heart.

One final thing to remember…

The One Show prides itself in its ability to cheer people up and offers escapism to its audiences which stretches right across the UK, marrying up the ambition to entertain as well as inform; a purpose that Unsworth highlighted is important to understand when building your PR campaign and pitching.

Our event concluded with a wonderful statement from an audience member who had tuned into the One Show every day after losing her father last year during the pandemic. The show’s uplifting and caring presence during her grief had carried her through, which – Unsworth said smiling as we wrapped up the discussion – was exactly what they were all about.

Short and sweet take-outs for PRs:

  • Exclusivity is a must. They won’t cover the story if it’s been out earlier that day.
  • A shorter pitch is far better with research stories (there is such thing as information overload!)
  • Regional spread of stories outside London is crucial.
  • The story must have a British angle.
  • Think about how your story could be part of a bigger feature and act as a steppingstone for the show.
  • Pitch well in advance as the production team will be planning weeks, sometimes months, in advance.
  • Do not spam with lots of follow-ups, it only clogs the channel of communication.
  • They do not cover product launches – quote Unsworth: “We do no take stories to sell items.”
  • A celebrity voice must have an authentic link to a story.

Our next Broadcast Revolution event will be on Thursday 16th September where we will be hosting ITV’s Loose Women.