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Last Updated: Friday, 28 February, 2003, 15:09 GMT
Ask BBC TV's Six Nations editor
Carl Hicks
Email: grandstand@bbc.co.uk
Text: 81111
BBC TV's Six Nations editor Carl Hicks was on hand to answer all your questions.

The championship looks set for a grand finale at Lansdowne Road on Sunday 30 March when Ireland face England - and you can follow it all with BBC Sport.

Now that the Six Nations is back in its entirety, we wanted to hear what you think about our coverage.

Carl answered your questions on Friday 14 March.

You can hear his replies via the audio link at the right of the page - alternatively, you can read a full transcript of the interview below.


Martin Hoares, Eng.

The coverage has been pretty good so far but the build-up to the England v Italy game was poor because it was almost non-existent.

I think it is dangerous to decide which games merit more of a build-up than others - as it happens it provided some of the most exciting rugby we have seen in this championship.

CH: Thanks for your compliments about the coverage - in terms of build-up a lot of it is down to scheduling. Last Sunday we were moved to BBC One for the game at Twickenham which was a great slot and produced an audience of 5m.

We were also up against the FA Cup on BBC Two, so it was felt we should not have too much build-up. As editor of the programme I'd love more time - but we have to use what we are given as best we can.

The first 20 minutes of that game was a great watch - and hopefully the 15 minutes preview to the game was as slick and sharp as the England backline in that period!


Liam Heffernan, UK

Well done so far - your coverage has been superb - but why are the Interactive elements of your programme not promoted more?

CH: Thank-you Liam - we're very proud of our interactive coverage, and hopefully we can develop it over the coming years.

Yes we do promote it through from the trail ahead of the programme to Steve Rider and the commentators though the game.

There is a fine line - and there are a lot of people out there who don't have digital or satellite, and we don't want to upset them by banging on about it too much.

But we like it, there's been good feedback from viewers with people texting and emailing in. If you want us to mention it a bit more then perhaps we should - but then I don't want to upset my mum who doesn't have a digital television.

Pressing the red button turns her television off - and we don't want people doing that!


Jerry, England

Who decides what camera angles the director chooses?

I spent half the Wales v England game yelling at the TV as the camera kept zooming in on the action, when what we want to see is the game around the ball - I missed half the game.

CH: This is always a matter of great subjectivity. The directors themselves decide what angles they shoot from - that's why they are there - the match director is responsible for all that decision making process.

No two directors are the same and everyone has their own individual style.

The general remit is that we want to be up close to the action, but at the same time appreciating the value of wide geography shots to establish where people are. It's a complex game in that sense and growing ever more so.

I think all the guys we are using are doing a good job, obviously there are differences between each, but the general aim of the game is to miss none of the action, to reflect how big an occasion these games are.

That involves crowd shots & coaches and everything that occurs around the field, but at the end of the day it is about covering a rugby match properly. Hopefully we do that even if every cut made by a director is not to all our viewer's tastes.


Mike Bodsworth, UK

Why do we have so many replays during the coverage?

CH: This is another one which is a bit of a hot potato. But given the speed and demands of the modern game as a viewer you do want to see what is happening again - and perhaps make a second judgement on what you have just seen.

We are very self-critical when we do miss restarts - but the game is faster today.

The time lapses between action are getting smaller - sometimes decisions are made to have another look at a move when perhaps we should be on live action - but it's the job of a director to make those instant judgement calls, and I think to be fair it's an art not a science.


Tracey Fleming, England

I always though that Wales and Scotland were part of Britain - now it seems from watching your coverage that they are all part of England, as you seem unwilling to give anyone else coverage.

CH: I think that is a bit unfair to be honest. When Wales played England we fronted the show with a forum discussing the main issues in Welsh rugby.

We're not shy in pointing out that England are ranked number one in world rugby, and that is an important editorial statistic, wherever you are from.

But similarly we presented the show from Dublin last weekend, and were keen to point out that the Irish have now got their best chance of a Grand Slam since 1948.

We are the BBC, but we don't just want to concentrate on the Home nations, but also on France and Italy. It is the Six nations, and we want to reflect our coverage of all six in our coverage.


Madhu Satsangi, Scotland

Why do you give so little coverage to the women's Six Nations.

CH: Another easy question thanks!

We're having to make some pretty harsh editorial decisions about what makes the sir and what does not. There are A internationals which have a huge effect on the main competition and we haven't really been able to reflect that.

We did show parts of England's women thrashing France in their inaugural game on the first Saturday of the competition.

As a whole on the BBC women's rugby doesn't do too badly. Rugby Special has been good at monitoring the development of the women's game, and did a number of features on last year's Women's World Cup in Spain.

But we know there is an impetus on us to promote the women's game and we do not take that lightly.


Sam Highway, Wales.

Why do you let the Welsh commentate and comment on the English game? We as English are not allowed to have our say on the Welsh game, why then do we have to suffer Eddie Butler and Jonathan Davies on our screens?

CH: Two parts there - we as English - if that's how Sam describes it have a commentator in Nick Mullins, co-commentators in Brian Moore and Jerry Guscott who have their say about the English, Welsh and everyone else.

Eddie Butler is a fine commentator. The fact that he is Welsh is secondary. The Butler - Moore commentary team has been a boon for our coverage. It doesn't matter where they are from.

The same with Jonathan - he is our main rugby analyst and works across both codes of the game - and I think he is superb. It is the power of what he has to say that matters, not whether he is Welsh.

As Bill McLaren used to say - the fact that he was Scottish shouldn't get in the way of the fact that he was a rugby commentator.


Gary Brown, Scotland

Excellent coverage, but I have found the after match discussion rather abrupt as you switch to the football results - why can't you stay with the game a little longer after it has finished?

CH: Gary - I sympathise with you here. It's all about scheduling. With two games on a Saturday the rugby invades parts of Grandstand that are usually the domain of football.

We're trying to ensure that we wrap up the day in such a way that the viewer knows all the storylines & the issues have been discussed, but we are also aware of the strength of the football audience at that time of day.

No two people's opinions on this are the same, but it is important that we do keep the balance across the sports and I think Grandstand has always prided itself on being able to do that.


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