The Brief

We are exceptionally proud to have worked with BBC Worldwide on their prestigious event since 2005 and this year we were asked to deliver the full technical production for two celebratory events at their annual TV sales festival, held at the ACC Liverpool and Liverpool Cathedral. With over 700 guests attending from across the globe, the evening events play a vital role in showcasing the key TV programmes to buyers. 

The first event, a gala dinner held at the ACC Liverpool, was to include an array of television stars, together with one of the world’s biggest boy bands The Backstreet Boys, who were at the event to promote their feature-length documentary Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, which is distributed by BBC Worldwide. A specific area of the brief – and a technical challenge - was to deliver a ‘reveal’ of the dining area from the stage, which would first be used for the drinks reception and create a point of intrigue for guests. The second gala dinner during the showcase was held at Liverpool Cathedral and themed around the critically acclaimed drama series Wolf Hall; the aim being to fully immerse guests into a 16th century English dining experience.


The first showcase event at the ACC was a live event produced to broadcast quality. We provided moving LED cube screens that showed content ranging from live webcast interviews to live feed action from the floor from a musical act and the touring cast of Dancing With The Stars. A complex audio solution including use of multiple boxes of various d&b audio ensured quality sound distribution from multiple stage locations for the wide range of artists.

To achieve the light cage ‘reveal’ effect, lighting designer Russ Grubiak specified over 106 Clay Paky Sharpy Fixtures, which we rigged on a 25m x 25m box truss within the arena, to create a pivoting ‘light cage’, programmed with lines of colour. Using a haze effect alongside the lights, guests were unable to see beyond the box to the dining tables beyond, until the unique central reveal when the lights were lifted. The ‘cage’ worked with programed LED wristbands that were given to guests on arrival; as dinner was called the Sharpys pivoted in rows and those seated in that block had their wrist bands activated to flash in the relevant colour, guiding them to their seats.

The design and delivery for the technical production at the stunning Liverpool Cathedral on the second evening was not without its creative challenges – which we love. The brief from BBC Worldwide was for guests to enter the cathedral through several different points of the building, with the immersive ‘Wolf Hall’ experience beginning as soon as they arrive. We lit the magnificent stained glass windows from the inside, so they were visible for guests as they approached, setting the atmosphere for the night ahead. Custom animations of quotes from the Wolf Hall series were projected along the North and South Choir aisles for guests to muse over during the reception.

We also designed a custom-built projection screen using curved truss which sat under the archway of the nave bridge - a first for the cathedral - and served as the main focal point for content throughout the event. Throughout the cathedral, Hawthorn utilised the skills of renowned TV lighting designer Bernie Davis, who used an impressive array of lighting fixtures, including our Clay Paky B-EYE K20s, to illuminate the incredible architecture. The entertainment for the evening included a string ensemble, playing compositions from the series and a 200 strong choir, perfect for the acoustics of the building. An amazing experience for guests, from beginning to end.


'We could not put on events of this scale without the ability to rely on the professional dedication provided by our known and trusted suppliers. We have been working with the Hawthorn team fora number of years and their expertise in this area along with freelance experts is key to ensuring we continue to deliver BBC Worldwide Showcase.'  Sally Brookes, Head of Global Events for BBC Worldwide