Small Screen

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Small Screen
Small screen.jpg
Genre: Light Entertainment
First Broadcast: 11th November 2003
Last Broadcast: 29th June 2005
Producer(s): Jonathan Bufton

Small Screen was a successful YSTV show which reviewed the best and worst of mainstream television.

Beginnings

Small Screen was conceived as a "filler show" running alternate Tuesdays with Bona Dicta, in the autumn term in which the Gang of Four ran the station, in order to give freshers something to crew and take part in. The initial set was pretty similar to Bona Dicta - black drapes and a panel with a presenter, mainly due to lack of ideas for anything else. The original intention was that different people would be members of the panel each week, and the presenter would also be rotated. However due to lack of interest producer Jonathan Bufton and his housemate Tom Hughes had to step in to make up the panel. The first edition (11th November 2003) was presented by Lydia Haddrell, and the second by Graham Ruddick. For the third, the presenter didn't turn up and so Jonathan and Tom hosted the show themselves, introducing the clips as well as discussing them. This format was retained after this show and the rest is history!

Start of the first Small Screen

Format

The format didn't change much over the two years, usually consisting of three or four clips of three of four TV programmes - both good and bad - transmitted that fortnight being reviewed and commented on. The first programme to be reviewed was the last ever edition of Brookside, and the last was, er, ChuckleVision. In January 2004, coinciding with the new dual format presenting style, the set was changed - or more accurately dispensed with. The programme was presented "behind the scenes" at YSTV, starting off in the control room and moving into the studio, using whatever set was left in place (and what was behind the cameras) and occasionely (if the cables were long enough) venturing out in the corridors of Goodricke. Handheld camera operators were used, as were the security cameras installed around the station the year previously. This allowed the show to look a lot more fluid than the usual YSTV "three locked-off cameras" approach, and also ensure that nothing was "hidden" from the viewer.

Titles and Theme

The title sequence remained unchanged throughout - scrolling TV screens showing recordings from Sky Digital one afternoon, expertly produced by Dave Baker to a very hazy description of what was required from Jonathan. The theme tune was "Shake Me" by Mint Royale, chosen from a mini disc full of music beds Jonathan had assembled for his URY show. It was changed because of copyright worries concerning the online stream in February 2005 to some far inferior (but less recognisable) library music. The original theme returned for the final show (with the presenters announcing in the pre-titles sequence that they'd had enough and were bringing it back!), and the closing compilation of highlights was set the the "Vocal Edit" of the theme tune. This and the original theme are available on the album "On The Ropes" and greatest hits collection "Pop Is..." under the name Kenny's Last Stand (curiously with the "Shake Me" sample removed). "Shake Me" was even released as a single way back in 1999, reaching the giddy heighs of 154 in the charts.

Mint Royale's work continues to be very popular for backing music and theme tunes on television despite relatively minor success until summer 2008 when one of their tracks was used in ITV1's Britain's Got Talent and hit the number 1 spot in the charts as a result. "Shake Me" has also been used in an E4 promotion and as the theme to a Channel 4 "top 100" programme.

Award

Much to everyone's surprise the new show won Best Light Entertainment Programme at NaSTA 2004, judged by Nev Fountain, writer of "Dead Ringers". He said the hosts were "very knowledgable" and that he would like to see a show like this on proper telly. After this, every mention of Dead Ringers on the show was glowing. This win changed Jonathan's motivation to produce the show, as what had previously been somewhat of a chore produced to give the station something to transmit became something that was (apparently) not bad at all and worth spending more time putting together. Sadly despite (or because?) of a lot more production being put into the show throughout 2004 and 2005 the show didn't win the category the following year, but received praise from the judge (CBBC's Gemma Hunt) and based on points awarded came third, just missing out on a "Highly Commended" certificate.

"Lost" Episode

The week 6 edition of the summer 2004 run of the show was cancelled due to the workload of the presenters and the lack of anything inspiring to review on TV. It was replaced by Matthew Platts gamely reviewing clips from YSTV shows from the past in his unique style, sitting behind the YSTV Week desk, filmed by one static camera. The Small Screen opening titles were used but this programme was not regarded as part of the run of the show due to the wildly differing style and content, and was not often repeated. It was thought to no longer exist - and this is certainly no bad thing - but has since been rediscovered in the DVD archives. The idea of commenting on past YSTV output would however become part of the show from November 2004 in YSTV Gold.

Bye Bye Tom

In October 2004 Tom Hughes left to devote more time to URY where he was now Programme Controller. After a rigorous, televised audition process he was replaced by Kate Rushworth. He did make a number of returns to the show however - firstly in an elbaorate EastEnders spoof in early 2005, and then a number of times in the summer term including as a crew member, Eurovision correspondent and presenting again on the final show.

Features

Over time extra features in addition to the basic reviews were added. The Soap Update was a regular feature for a while (until it became clear that only Tom cared), and the Classic Clip delved into the archives of the producers (or TV Ark if they were desperate). TV News did what it said on the tin, and that week's new Radio Times was flicked through (rather boringly) on camera with the BBC's advance Programme Information (or Pi). Shit TV saw Kate sneak off to the toilets (hence the name) and talk through the worst TV she'd seen that week. YSTV Gold raided the archives of the station, and Behind The Scenes showed what happens behind the cameras. From January 2005 each programme looked at a particular genre of programming, such as comedy or children's. Perhaps the most memorable of Small Screen's features was The Gallery, in which the presenters wrote to numerous television programmes claiming to be a fan, and received over seventy signed postcards in response (most notably the entire cast of BBC Scotland's River City and three photos from Dot Cotton). The results were displayed in the corner of the studio accompanied by "The Gallery" theme from Take Hart/Hart Beat/SMart.

stoic

At NaSTA 2005 Matt Cunningham - produced of "The Matt and Dave Show" at stoic (Student Television Of Imperial College, London) introduced himself to YSTV as a massive fan of Small Screen. As a result of this Kate, Tom and Jonathan (with Dave Baker and Sarah Leese) visited stoic in June 2005 as guests on the last ever "Matt and Dave Show". Matt and stoic Station Manager John Anderson returned the favour for the final Small Screen two weeks later, where highlights of the visit were screened as part of the final "Behind The Scenes" feature. Matt now works for GMTV Kids - ironically on the same road where Jonathan was relocated during 2006/7!

The End

After 24 shows the programme finished (due to the graduation of the presenters) on 29th June 2005 with an impressively self-indulgent programme of highlights of the two years, hosted by all three presenters, complete with limp 49p balloons from CostCutter. There was also a countdown of the top five shows reviewed (won by Monkey Dust) and the worst five (won by Mad About Alice). The final scene, filmed outside Television Centre during the stoic visit, implied the programme was actually moving to be produced by the BBC, with a "to be continued..." caption. Curiously Kate (from 2007) works at BBC Worldwide and so is a regular in White City, however Jonathan (somewhat ironically) now works for ITV.

End of the final Small Screen

Small Screen was later featured in the 2006 Best Broadcaster, where it was included due to Rowan's love of the show, as well as a general desire to show all programmes made since the last NaSTA, even if they had since been discontinued. The judge said in her comments that the "TV review looked good".

The spirit of Small Screen lived on during 2006-7 in a section of the fantastic Limited Edition, where the presenters reviewed programmes from other student TV stations.

The Gallery remained in the corner of the YSTV studio for two years after the end of the programme before being removed by Jonathan during the YSTV40 Birthday Party weekend, in an attempt to better preserve the photo cards collected (many of which were by now continuously falling off the wall).

The last 15 programmes can be seen on the YSTV website. Repeats of the programme were last screened on YSTV during 2007.

YSTV40 and beyond

Part of the celebratory YSTV40 broadcast in November 2007 was given over to interviewing past members about their memories of their time at YSTV. Jonathan and Tom were interviewed together by Sarah Cheyne about their time presenting Small Screen and to introduce this part of the show the closing section of the final edition of the show was re-screened.

In November 2010 Jonathan assembled a new compilation of highlights, partly inspired by the somewhat apt lyrics of "Famous" by Scouting For Girls but also by a return visit to York, all of which conveniently coincided with the seventh anniversary of the first show.

To complete the story - in April 2013 Jonathan married Kate, and Tom was the Best Man!


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