ITN's Jane Marlow reveals the tremendous effort that goes into broadcasting the Coronation of King Charles III.
Broadcasting the Coronation of King Charles III is about more than just feeding images back to viewers. The day is about us, the people, and ITN’s role is to follow the narrative as it unfolds, conveying all aspects of the public's experience as well as interpreting details of the ceremony on the day.
Practice makes perfect
A full-scale rehearsal of the Coronation procession took place from 10.30pm on Tuesday into the early hours of Wednesday morning. It was essential for ITN’s news teams to have an ‘as-live’ experience of the event. Our plan for broadcasting the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was years in the making as knowledge was passed down through generations of journalists at ITN, but this marks our very first Coronation so it's exciting, uncharted territory.
Better than being there
ITV News will be producing ITV’s rolling coverage over the Coronation weekend and the principle underpinning our programming is that it should be ‘better than being there’. An important part of delivering that atmosphere means cutting away from the privileged view from the studio to follow presenter, Nina Hossain, who will be among the crowds sharing their excitement and stories live from the Mall.
The ITV News’ production team walked the procession route many, many times to get the low, intimate angles that will give viewers the best view inside the carriage as it goes past. We have 52 ceremonial camera feeds including one on top of Buckingham Palace giving that iconic view down The Mall … a view even the Royal Family don’t get to see from the Balcony as the Queen Victoria Monument is in the way.
Treading the grey carpet
The studio where Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham will broadcast ITV's King Charles III: The Coronation on Saturday from 8.30am - 3pm is carpeted in the same colour as the pale stone underneath. It’s all part of the plan to make viewers feel they’re with us at the location, but it means shoe-coverings are obligatory to avoid muddy footprints.
The sheer logistical challenge is breathtaking and at ITV News’ main base at Canada Gate, opposite Buckingham Palace, there’s a sense of camaraderie in the media village between ITN, Sky and the BBC. As the only three producers with cameras on site, we share images from each other’s set-ups and have an emergency protocol in place for technical back-up.
ITN produces ITV News, ITV News London, Channel 4 News and 5 News. Each bulletin has its own distinct audience and will use footage from the main ITN feed to create bespoke reports for their programmes and digital content. Cathy Newman and Krishnn Guru-Murthy host Channel 4 News' coverage from Friday through to Sunday and will showcase historic events alongside voices across the country to reflect the cross-cultural perspectives of the monarchy today. In addition, 5 News will hear from royal correspondent Simon Vigar, and Dan Walker and Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije will air a special ‘Weekend’ edition. ITV News will be posting packages and live streaming the event on ITVX with Charlene White part of the presenter line-up capturing instant reactions from all the Coronation guests.
5G or not 5G, that’s the question
The success of our programming hinges on our ability to transfer footage quickly and securely from our OB trucks back to our broadcasting base. To give us another option in our connectivity arsenal, we’ve set up an innovative partnership with Vodafone to use a slice of its 5G network. For tech-heads among us, it also means the Coronation broadcast will be the first to be enabled by a public 5G SA network.
A presenter prepares
With 30 years at ITN under her belt, Mary Nightingale has been central to ITV News’ coverage of major royal events since the death of the Queen Mother. At the Coronation, she’ll be at the pivotal commentary position at Westminster Cathedral and has studied Queen Elizabeth’s coronation as part of her meticulous preparation. Every nuance of the ceremony, every uniform, flag, dignitary or even sword, Mary will have the insight and information at her fingertips to share with our viewers.
ITN will be the only producer capturing airborne images of the Red Arrows, from the moment they launch from RAF Waddington to the iconic flypast down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace. Using state-of-the-art camera technology, we’ll put our viewers at the heart of the action.
British PSBs on the world stage
The images captured on location will be mixed and broadcast from our master control rooms at our base on Gray’s Inn Road. While our newsrooms create their individual bulletins, our dedicated team at ITN News Production will be creating a feed that’s designed specifically for overseas broadcasters. By sharing their knowledge and expertise, this team ensures global viewers understand Britain's rich history and can share in the sense of occasion.
ITN's coverage in numbers
ITN's coverage will see a staggering 15km of cabling used, 250 staff and freelancers, 52 ceremonial cameras - including one on the roof of Buckingham Palace - and over 70 location cameras overall, over 60 concurrent paths in and out of ITN HQ for the ITV special alone, 5 production sites, 1 overnight rehearsal…and many 4am starts!