The original Just Giving Page - still going

The Power of a Character in TV News

Posted December 26, 2020
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There's an object lesson in here for TV news 


On April 6, 2020, Hannah Ingram-Moore came up with an interesting idea to help her father.

He had fallen the year before, and at the age of 99 was still recovering from a fractured hip. He was frustrated at the slow rate of his recovery.

She suggested that he might try walking in the garden. Her husband Colin added an incentive: "Do some laps out there. We'll give you a pound for each lap. See if you can reach 100 before your 100th birthday."

To drive the message home, Colin and Hannah set up a Just Giving Page (similar to Go Fund Me) to see if they could raise £1000 for the NHS.

Overnight, the page raised £2000, but more importantly, The BBC picked up on the story and put it on BBC Breakfast.

That made all the difference.

As of now, Captain Tom Moore, who is now Sir Colonel Tom Moore had raised more than £38 million and still climbing.

All credit, of course, to Sir Colonel Tom Moore and his family, but even more credit to The BBC.

The BBC Breakfast show covered the Tom Moore story. It was a cute story. He raised £2000.  

Most TV news would do the story and then move on.  But BBC Breakfast did something different.  First, they kept coming back to the story, day after day, week after week. month after month.

BBC Breakfast made a conscious effort to own the story.

Second, and this is the more interesting thing, i think, they made Captain Tom Moore into a character.  The story was less about the money raised for the NHS and more about him.

This worked. 

Slowly, over time, Captain Tom Moore, now Sir Colonel Tom Moore became a national phenomenon.  

It wasn't what he was doing. All he was doing was walking in his garden. It was the fact that they focused on him as a character and they also never let go of the story. And because they never let go of the story, the story grew, almost on its own. 

Celebrities soon came to see him.  He recorded a #1 song on the UK charts.  He was an 'influencer', made so by TV news. 

It was beneficial to the BBC, it was beneficial to Captain Tom, but most importantly, it was beneficial to the NHS, who got £38m out of it. 

There is a lesson here for TV news.  

Be character driven and keep coming back to the characters.

It is, after all, what works for all TV, from The Crown to The Real Housewives.

Character + arc of story. 

Now applied to news. 


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