30 Years On: Whistle Test, Dallas Back In Business

Broadcasters like to revive programme brands. Even if they have been off-air or out of the public consciousness for many years, the best brands usually have enough in-built consumer awareness to support a PR or marketing launch.

There are a couple of examples this week. First, the revival of Old Grey Whistle Test as a BBC Radio 2 show this summer. OGWT aired on TV in the 1970s/80s (BBC2) then saw a tentative revival last year in the form of an album. Now it will be reinvented as a 16-part radio series to mark the 40th anniversary of the format”s launch. The show will be hosted by the original presenter, Bob Harris, and feature guests such as Elton John, Robert Plant and Paul Weller.

A few years back, there might not have been much merit in talking up a TV to radio reversioning story. But these days, the process of digital convergence means there are three relevant considerations for TV producers in a story like this.

The first is that TV producers with classic brands can look to radio as an alternative way to monetise their IP. Those with in-house radio production skills are clearly best placed to benefit. The second is that radio can be a low-cost way of reintroducing a brand. While it”s hard to see OGWT reappearing on BBC2, it might find a new life on BBC4 or the growing band of cabsat channels seeking to commission distinctive series. And thirdly, there could be a video component to a radio commission. With radio stations moving into online, there”s scope for short-form interviews and performance footage to be a part of the content line-up.

The other brand on its way back is Dallas. Three decades after its last outing, US cable network TNT has greenlit a new 10-part series (with some of the original cast reprising their roles). Presumably it won’;t be long before we see the new version and the original appearing on British screens.

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