It’s been quite a month for theatre on the small screen. Last weekend, BBC2 broadcast the National Theatre’s 50th birthday celebrations and next week Channel 4 brings us the first of a four-part series that takes viewers backstage of major West End productions, with The Sound of Musicals.
I wrote about this production some months ago – when it was being made under a different title – and, at the time, it was a popular story with visitors to The Stage website. That doesn’t surprise me, as whenever The Stage runs stories about musicals the stories are extremely well read. Readers of The Stage are fascinated by musical theatre news – whether it’s a production closing early, or a new television series such as Channel 4’s The Sound of Musicals.
It’s brilliant that Channel 4 arts commissioner Tabitha Jackson has had this series made at all. It’s just a shame her programming hasn’t had the publicity it deserves
What does surprise me, however, is the fact that the arrival of Channel 4’s new series has not had much fanfare from the broadcaster itself. I knew it was coming up, but was only aware of where it is in the schedules (Tuesday, 9pm) because the press officer asked if I would like to see an advance copy. I subsequently watched it (it’s excellent) and tweeted about it, only for many people to express surprise that they didn’t know this show was on our screens this month. In short, it’s one that could quite easily slip under the radar – even though it’s on the flagship channel and in a primetime slot.
So where is the marketing around this? The trails? I was well aware that a new series of Homeland was about to start on Channel 4 long before it did. I always know when the next series of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding will be on, or when the next episodes of Made in Chelsea air (even though I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than watch them). But I’ve yet to see any adverts for The Sound of Musicals.
It’s brilliant that Channel 4 arts commissioner Tabitha Jackson has had this series made at all. It’s just a shame her programming hasn’t had the publicity it deserves. It seems it’s been left to those who appear in the series to publicise it themselves, on Twitter.
Anyway – if you are interested in The Sound of Musicals, let me give you a brief taster of the first episode, which goes behind the scenes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In this episode we see how Sam Mendes had to make the heartbreaking decision to replace his original Augustus Gloop after the first actor’s voice broke. We also learn how difficult the glass elevator was to create – resulting in cancelled previews. It’s how these issues impact on those involved in the show – cast and crew – which make the programme so fascinating to watch. It’s a must see. And it’s on next Tuesday (Nov 12) at 9pm. So now you know, I hope you’ll be tuning in.