Bridges, royals and documentary crews too

Screenshot of BBC 2's Sea Cities programme on Sunderland featuring the construction of the Northern Spire

It’s an exciting fortnight for all things Northern Spire – our major infrastructure project (a new bridge) in Sunderland. We’ve two very high-profile Royal visitors coming to site next week, and this Thursday sees the city of Sunderland – and our new bridge in particular – play a starring role in a national BBC documentary.

Royal visit on the cards

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will see Sunderland’s striking new Northern Spire bridge for themselves when they visit the project next week, which is hugely exciting for the city and everyone involved. Big credit must go to the Sunderland City Council team for working so well with the Lord Lieutenants office to secure the visit and organise everything along with Kensington Palace.

DTW’s role has been to make sure everything ‘on the ground’ is behaving just as we want it to, and that the site team all know they role on the day. You can’t underestimate the amount of planning and discussion that goes into these things. Fingers crossed.


BBC Sea Cities

It’s never dull this bridge lark. Ahead of next week’s excitement there is an excellent BBC documentary all about the people and landscape of Sunderland being aired nationally on BBC2 this Thursday night.

Sea Cities – Sunderland is being broadcast on BBC2 at 8pm on Thursday, 15 February and we promise you it’s well worth a watch. Not only will you get some great behind the scenes footage of the construction work for Northern Spire, but you will get to see some incredible footage and characters from right across Sunderland.

We’ve been working with the BBC team for the past year – come rain or shine – but mainly rain – to help them capture some of the stunning engineering feats that have taken place during that time, and the drone footage that is used in the bridge sections of the programme was all done by our team.

So, what are the lessons to pass on from having a BBC documentary crew on site on several occasions for the best part of a year. It’s a bit different to a Look North feature. Here’s a few hints from us

  1. Be prepared to give extra access – documentaries are dull unless the programme makers can really get behind the scenes and get a feel for the drama and the characters on a project
  2. People, people, people – this programme is all about the people. Great characters make great viewing. Characters are real, not scripted (and they’re usually not the boss). In an age when we all want authenticity the best way of doing that is to show the real thing – this programme certainly does that.
  3. Tell the team to have fun – smiling and laughing is infectious. We all like watching it. We like joining in. Take the work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously and you’ll come across well on camera.
  4. Know your limits – the media will always have another request (even the BBC). Most of the time, it’s good to say yes, but there are times when you need to say “no, sorry, but that’s not possible”. That’s fine and you should be prepared to do it when it is appropriate. Just remember though that if you keep saying no it was probably a bad idea in the first place.

There’s always more to say but that’s it for now. You can see a little sneak preview on the BBC website right now just to get a taster for the real thing. Make sure you tune in on Thursday night.

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