Television

BBC to air 'Call Centre' series on 12 February

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BANGALORE: Starting 12 February, BBC World will present a seven-part series Call Centre filmed in an observational reality format. It is an exclusive behind-the-scene series looking at the growing Indian service industry.

Call Centre series will be broadcast every Sunday on BBC World at 11 am with an additional appointment to view at 10 PM

Observational reality (as opposed to customized or structured reality shows like Fame Gurukul, Indian Idol) was the theme that BBC followed when they showcased AIIMS at New Delhi for their theme series - Hospital and the Indian Army for their series Commando. Since 'Bangalored' has become a word synonymous with loss of jobs in the west, the new series is also meant for international audiences.

The series follows two professionals working for 24/7 customer, a call centre in Bangalore. Shalini Kalra is a 27-year old manager and Karthik Ranganth is a 22-year new recruit. It highlights a highly competitive industry which demands accent training for Indians who are learning to service clients from around the world. Karthik is training to develop a British accent in less than eight weeks while Shalini is trying to balance her U.S.-time job with her personal life.

Part of the India Business Report strand, the series chronicles their daily routine and highlights the key issues and challenges they face: emotional stress, adapting to foreign time zones, pressure from demanding clients and tackling the unpredictable crisis caused by hurricanes in the United States.

"We contacted a number of companies for the shoot, and all of them had riders such as limited access and other issues. 24/7 was the only company which allowed us unrestricted access and allowed us to put up our cameras as we wanted," said Miditech president Niret Alva. Miditech is the production house for the series.

"The idea was conceived almost two years ago - we saw these young kids being driven around at late hours between Gurgaon and Delhi. A few broadcasters whom we approached were wary of the issue - the theme would not jell well in some of the countries they were present. BBC agreed to the idea, with certain conditions, of course," said Niret.

"We had to keep in mind the confidentiality of 24/7 customers and the sensibilities of an international audience, as well as follow BBC's mandate - hence throughout the seven episodes no name, 24/7 customer or nationality has been spoken of," added Niret.

Miditech vice president south India operations Manira A Pinto says, "The programme has a unique approach and treatment and gives the viewer a feel of how this industry operates through the life and work of the two professionals. Produced in a docu-style, the programme is fast-paced and throws daily situations at experts like Kiran Karnik and Brinda Karat for comments and insights into the industry."

A preview of the first episode was showcased in Bangalore today, which focused on a call center job aspirant right from the time of leaving home for interview tests and on an executive handling a mini-crisis. Woven in between are comments and interviews of mangers at 24/7 and Nasscom's Kiran Karnik.

Both Shalini and Karthik said that they were quite comfortable with cameras probing into their lives day in and day out. "Only the first two or three days were we conscious of the cameras, soon we got used to them" said Shalini. The duo look forward to their tryst with fame starting on the Sunday after next.

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