BBC shifts Studio B’s palette for P.M. candidate interviews

BBC News is showcasing the flexibility of the recently-renovated Studio B in a series of interviews with candidates to become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Hosted by Nick Robinson, he and each candidate sit in chairs added to the raised catwalk area on the camera left half of the studio that also boasts the large, curved video wall used to showcase 18 live feeds after the national newscasts produced in the space prepare to toss to regional updates. 

The video wall is filled with an animated loop created using a blue, white and black palette to showcase a mix of geometric shapes and horizontal bands, which are also found in the opening animation.

Similar graphics can also been seen on the video wall behind the anchor desk area in select wide shots as well as in the lower-resolution LED walls installed at the mezzanine level above the main studio space. These graphics have also been used in debates between candidates, which were not produced in Studio B.

The shapes used include both miniature triangles and larger diamonds, the latter of which are used to form the suggestion of a 3D cube.

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That motif is drawn from other BBC election coverage looks, where it is also often interpreted as both a box with a cutaway and the hexagonal shape formed when a single 3D cube is looked at as a single plane. 

The video wall graphic’s center is filled with horizontal bars that provide slivers of imagery of 10 Downing Street, the home of the prime minister, and the houses of parliament. 

While the distance between host and candidate appears to be somewhat more than one might expect, it’s not clear if this is a COVID-19 precaution or done on purpose.

Keeping the two farther apart does allow the network to insert larger pull quote and statistical graphics in the wide two-shot that allow the presenter to reference material as part of questions. 

At the top of the interviews, Robinson stands next to Tower A, one of two freestanding LED “monoliths” in the studio, with the candidate strategically shown seated behind him on the catwalk. The monolith is also incorporated into select wide cutaway shots as well.

An opening animation continues the blue color scheme using similar imagery found on the video walls. Additional elements include on-screen text set in the serif version of the BBC’s proprietary Reith font, listing past prime ministers’ names and years of service, the P.M.’s address and candidate names.

There is still a hint of the network’s trademark red in the form of a vertical red bar on the left side of a sliver of the “10” on the Downing Street door in the final title slide.

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Studio B’s current set debuted in June 2022 as home to the BBC’s signature 6 and 10 p.m. national news bulletins. 

Its backlit panels are typically set to red and white to match the news division’s look, but the color can be changed for special productions, like the blue look seen here. The same holds true for the edge lighting that runs along the front of the balcony; it’s normally set to white but shifted blue for the interviews.

The numerous video walls also obviously lend a tremendous amount of flexibility to the space, allowing the network to feed in topical graphics, unique backgrounds and even virtual set extensions such as the ones used in the anchor desk area during bulletins that feature simulated views of the sprawling BBC newsroom and other structural elements. 

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