Callum Denning

The brief for Digital Entrepreneurship presented me with a variety of options to explore that would suit my production skills and allow me an opportunity to work on a project that could be a labour of love and be based on something that I’m passionate about. This led me to consider a couple of fleshed-out possibilities.

Idea 1

As a keen supporter of Birmingham City Football Club, and subscriber to their audio-visual online platform Blues TV, I had been struck by the almost complete lack of audio content. Currently, that’s limited to live matchday commentary, while the rest of the platform is dedicated solely to visual content. While the name of the platform might be an indication of this, I was also intrigued by the current trend of podcasts dedicated solely to one football club. BCFC, currently, aren’t producing their own.

I did some market research and found that there weren’t really any unaffiliated podcasts being produced, either. One that seemed to actually fit the description was called The Bluescast is currently being produced by online radio station Brum Radio, but it would be fair to say that the production quality is slightly lacking, with over-modding prevalent throughout. The Birmingham Mail also formerly produced one, although it seems that they ceased to do this at the end of the 2015/16 season. There’s also a confusing video live stream/radio show called Tilton Talk which I wasn’t sure how to categorise.

I wrote a treatment and sent it to the Club’s media officer, although my timing, unfortunately, clashed with the unveiling of new manager Steve Cotterill, meaning that the media team at BCFC have been rather pre-occupied.

This caused me to think more about my second idea.

Idea 2

My second idea is to capitalise on the hype surrounding the BBC series Peaky Blinders and it’s connection to real history in the areas of Digbeth, Small Heath and Bordesley Green in Birmingham.

I aim to produce a piece talking about the history of the Peaky Blinders gang at the turn of the 20th century and how they earned their name (a rather graphic story involving razor blades in the peaks of their flat caps), as well as some of their notorious acts. It could also be an exploratory piece about whether or not the city of Birmingham and fans of the series are over-romanticising their behaviour.

This could work for a variety of clients and in a variety of different ways. One option is that of an audio walking tour through the streets of Birmingham and visiting real locations that are depicted in the drama, such as The Garrison pub. It could also work for the Black Country Living Museum and be more of a documentary about how the locations there are used for filming. Visit Birmingham and Birmingham City Council may also be interested in such a production. Finally, businesses in Birmingham city centre, such as The Peaky Blinder pub, may also be keen on commissioning it.

Blog Post 2:

Following on from my previous blog post, I have decided to go with my second idea of doing a feature about the Peaky Blinders, both the TV series and their real history.

Securing a commission for this also proved to be a tricky affair. My first point of contact, the Black Country Living Museum, have been passing me around various departments so I moved on from them. Visit Birmingham are yet to respond to my treatment. I instead chose to pitch to 107.5 Switch Radio, a hyperlocal community/small commercial station in Birmingham, which broadcasts on FM and DAB in the area.

The station manager was very keen to get involved and has commissioned the piece as well as offering studio space to use in Birmingham while I’m working on it.

My next step is to move on and start contacting interviewees who have knowledge on the subject and would be an engaging listen. People I have in mind are Steven Knight, who created the series, and Carl Chinn who is a well-known local historian in Birmingham. I’ll also contact the businesses mentioned in my earlier blog post to see if they would be keen to speak about why they’re capitalising on the fame of the series.

I also intend to go up to Birmingham very soon and record some on-location links on the streets of Digbeth and Small Heath, visiting locations from the series (such as The Garrison pub) that still exist to this day.

Blog Post 3:

Since my last blog post, I’ve managed to secure an interview with Professor Carl Chinn MBE, who is the local historian in Birmingham (having penned twenty books on the subject). I was also delighted to find out that he leads walking tours all about the Peaky Blinders, and he invited me along for free to record the tour and interview him before & after. I’ve also booked in an interview with Stacy Minott, who runs the business end of the tours, so I’ll be asking her about how the city has taken to the Peaky Blinders (whether that’s entirely ethical or not) and how fans of the show get involved in the tours.

In regards to the businesses in Birmingham that have embraced the Peaky Blinders, I had an interview booked in with the landlord of the Peaky Blinder pub for tomorrow evening (8th November) too, but they’ve had to delay that to the 18th. I’m also going to reach out, again, to the Black Country Living Museum to see if I can take a tour of the locations they used for filming, which I think would make a good intro for the programme and a segue to the real location tour with Carl.

My next step is to firm up on where I want the documentary to go in terms of narrative, something I’ll have a better idea about after recording with Professor Chinn on the tour, as he’s my main contributor. I’m also looking for more voices, ideally connected with the show and Birmingham, and have reached out to Brummie poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah who also stars in the show.

Blog Post 4:

The making of the documentary is coming along quite well. I’ve spoken to Carl Chinn and Stacey Minnott from Peaky Tours and have finally been given permission to record at the Black Country Living Museum as well as the chance to speak to their press officer.

As well as this, I’m going to be speaking to a member of staff from BOA (Brit School’s partner school in the West Midlands) about the impact the show has had on young people in Birmingham, and a freelance broadcast professional about whether or not the show has had an impact on their life.

The only bit I’m struggling with is a conclusion but my idea is to focus on whether or not the Peaky Blinders should be embraced by the city considering their violent history

Blog Post 5:

Delivery day. The one we’ve all been waiting for. After numerous weeks of hard work, and various emails and phone calls, I’m finally at a position where I can confidently say my work is finished.

The final couple of days consisted of making a few last minute changes to levels and the structure of the piece but I’m very happy with the way that the documentary now sounds.

I think its a very informative programme that has a good sense of humour mixed in with all the information. Carl Chinn is a very engaging contributor and the other people that I’ve spoken to have good answers mixed with a similar personality/way of speaking that means people’s attention isn’t lost.

Hopefully listeners agree!

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