Thought Den at BBC Connected Studio

On July 11th 2012, Thought Den’s Creative Director Ben made it through the group pitching phase of a new Cbeebies product. A few weeks later we were invited back to attend a two day ‘hackathon’, the goal of which was to cobble together a proof of concept and to then present the idea.

This was all set in a atmosphere of competition against nine other teams, just to take the pressure off and make it easier…With Ben off on his holidays, Dan Course (technical director) and myself, the newest addition to the tech team (Corin Wilkins – creative developer) headed up to the BBC’s swanky Media City in Salford to pick up where Ben had left off.

At MediaCity UK, Salford

At the Beeb

Some crazy dude

After going through Pentagon-esque security and enjoying a few handshakes it was straight down to brass tax. Two days isn’t a lot of time to refine an idea and build a demonstrator project, and the lovely but large team that we were put in also meant we spent a day working through just the concept. The tech team were first tasked with filling out a document on how we would overcome the technical risks of the project, while the creatives wrestled with everything from wireframes and UX to the child psychology to back it all up.

Without giving away all our secrets, we pitched to produce a product that spanned desktop, tablet, smart phone and IPTV (in short a ‘four screen solution’). Central to the grand vision was that illusive and sought after element: magic. We want to provide a digital “digeree-doo-daa”, that would keep a child entertained. But no more on the secret IP 😉


The pitches were very impressive with some quality proof of concepts and a funny presentation from fellow Bristolian’s Aardman Digital. I was a little unhappy with what we had managed to prototype in the time available, but after seeing the pitch it felt that our idea was well fleshed out, with the risks explained and mitigated. As much as I would have liked to have stood at the front with an fully built product, we were there to sell the idea and not a finished product!

The next stage is waiting until the Beeb have got all this Olympics rigamarole out of the way. Then they will be assessing our idea to see if they like it enough for us to build a full pilot of the project.


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