27 April 2012
Delivering Olympic viewing
This summer, millions will be glued to their TV screens as the country looks forward to a summer of Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee. Tim Plyming is part of the team responsible for making sure it all goes smoothly. Chine Mbubaegbu meets him...
From the Diamond Jubilee through to Wimbledon through to the opening ceremony through to Usain Bolt in the 100 metre final, this summer’s events are really going to grip the nation, and the world. “This is going to be one of the most exciting summers in our lifetime,” says Tim Plyming. And as project executive, digital & editor live sites for BBC London 2012, he is right in the middle of the planning for the Olympic & Paralympic Games. As crowds from across the globe flock to the UK, all eyes will be on our nation.
Tim, who attends All Souls Langham Place, has been overseeing the team working on plans for the Beeb’s coverage of the Olympics and also the Diamond Jubilee for the past four years. His is a job which brings together creative elements with the highly advanced technology that we’re going to be witnessing for this year’s Games. Working at Television Centre – and on one of the biggest events the nation has seen – would be a dream job for anyone with hopes of breaking in to broadcasting. But Tim says he has got there not through any “grand plan” but through great opportunities landing in his lap.
Although as a young boy he wanted to be a policeman, he soon gained an interest in radio and at the age of 13 would hang around BBC Radio Sussex helping presenters, ferrying records about and helping to prepare ingredients for cooking features. “I thought a live radio studio was just the most exciting place to be in the world.” He then did some work experience at the BBC in comedy programming, working as a waiter at night to pay his bills. After landing a “proper job” at BBC radio, he went on to work for News International and on projects launching the media giant’s first ever websites and internet editions for the likes of the News of the World and The Times. It’s while working for News International that he was invited by a friend to a church in Pimlico where he became a Christian.
He was then asked to return to the BBC to create Radio 2’s first website. It was here that he joined the management team, working with the likes of Jonathan Ross, Terry Wogan and Steve Wright. He later became executive producer for the Electric Proms before joining the Olympic project.
“It’s been a fun journey really,” he says. “But it’s never been deliberate. Some people have very well-planned career paths and I have never been one of those people. I’ve been really blessed in having interesting projects land in my lap. I don’t try to wrestle control of some big plan, but I try to do every project to the best of my ability.
“I’m a big believer in the fact that if you do a project really well, there are always new things that need doing and good people are always needed. I try not to get anxious about what’s coming next. For example, I don’t know what I’m going to do when the Olympics has finished and our team shuts. The BBC will go on to business as usual which will include the presidential elections, Christmas and then on to 2013. It’ll be like the Olympics never happened.”
With a varied career history, what motivates him? “The projects I enjoy are bringing people together of different skills and expertise to deliver one project,” Tim says. “It’s a great symbol of how we’ve all been given different gifts and skills. It’s an enormous sense of achievement and I think it represents our involvement in creation. It’s amazingly life-affirming and exciting.”
He hopes that churches will pull together to plug in to the party atmosphere around the country this summer. “It will enable churches to provide opportunities for people to come together and celebrate an extraordinary summer. Churches through history have provided a great place for a community to have a focus. In times of tragedy or in times of great joy it’s quite often the churches that people turn to as a place to come together – that or the pub.”
Tim Plyming is the project executive, digital & editor of live sites at the BBC