Working Lunch (1994)

Concept and creative process

‘Working Lunch’ titles were designed by Piers Helm. Patrick Bedeau supported the project by allowing the production to use the virtual set he had designed for a pilot show, devised for Jill Dando and George Alagiah. Circumstances changed and that show was never launched, so Piers Helm reworked the 3D set for editor Paul Gibbs’ ‘Working Lunch’. This show was very innovative. It brought financial programming to Daytime TV and with presenter Adrian Chiles’ strong regional accent it developed a cult following. Virtual sets for factual programming had never been done before and the technology was limited. Piers Helm’s titles, the virtual set and the strong editorial concept were all achieved at minimal cost. As the programme ‘Working Lunch’ covered business, personal finance and popular consumer news, it was intended to be an antidote to all the hard business shows. 
While developing concepts, Piers Helm happened to come across an image of a goldfish. He realised that the GOLD fish could be a character swimming around in its own self-contained world, which was the world of business and finance, represented by a treasure chest, a factory, a bank and the stock exchange. A shark was introduced as a reference to the cut-throat and menacing bigger businesses. The concept storyboards were shown to the Heads of BBC News, who had trouble getting their heads around such a way-out concept, but trusted that it felt 'very BBC2' and was what the show needed.
Harry Franchetti, a modelmaker and sculptor who had worked on ‘Spitting Image’, created clay models including a fishtank version of the Richard Rogers’ Lloyds of London Building. The goldfish star of the titles was therefore named Lloyd. The shark was a latex model made by Franchetti, with controls on a bicycle handlebar that moved the tail and opened the mouth. The sequence was shot on 16mm film in a motion control studio and composited on Quantel Harry. The theme music was composed by John Ashton Thomas, a Hollywood film score composer. Several composers had pitched for the theme, including Alan Price from the 60s band The Animals.
‘Working Lunch’ was the first live show to rely entirely on a virtual set. Broadcast from the smallest studio in News and Current Affairs, nevertheless on air it looked the biggest. Other shows such as the News used virtual sets for the wide shots but had a real set for the close-ups and mid-shots. With ‘Working Lunch’ everything including the desk was computer-generated. 
Lloyd the fish lived for many years in a fishtank made out of a vintage 50s television. Sadly he jumped out of the tank one night in 2002 and died in the very week when the ‘Working Lunch’ title sequence, in which he had starred, was replaced by a new one featuring a computer-generated goldfish.