Clay Paky recently had the pleasure of catching up with Chris Kempton, Lighting Director of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and a Knights of Illumination winner at Plasa 09. Kempton shared details about the show, the award, and why he loves the new Alpha Beam 700 fixtures.
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is a late night BBC talk show presented by British television and radio personality Jonathan Ross. The program features Ross’ opinions on current events, guest interviews and live music from a wide variety of popular performers from Eminem and Lady Gaga to U2 and Shakira.
Kempton has designed well over 200 shows for Jonathan Ross and cites “trying to create a different atmosphere for each band performance” as a chief goal. The set uses a core rig and brings in exotic fixtures occasionally to help create the different looks. Kempton described the challenging schedule: “Jonathan is very involved with the choice of music, always involved in choosing the band himself. It’s a one day stand, so a very quick rig in the morning, minimal rehearsal in the afternoon and a record in the evening (with lots of editing on Friday!!) The music performance is very live and definitely a one-shot record, there is rarely time for a retake and the production team likes a very live vibe, and must accept any errors as part of the live experience.”
He continues, “For the lighting style we keep a basic standard rig based on wash lights to give a distinctive house style. We go for a very live look, high intensity, that leans more towards the looks of a live concert than a TV presentation, so coloured key lights or no key lights are always in the frame. Then, depending on the artist, we augment to achieve a different dynamic each week. Budget is a big consideration, there are 40 shows a year – not a light entertainment special.”
Show 4 of Series 17 featured international sensation Shakira, where the team added 20 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 700s to augment the high energy performance. Shakira performed her latest single She Wolf from her forthcoming album of the same name.
Regarding the Shakira set, the team was briefed to concentrate on her performance and incorporate an ongoing theme of gold bars, representing a cage. The Alpha Beam 700s were added to create the bars of light across the performance area. Kempton said of the Alpha Beam, “We were very impressed with the brightness, and the fact that they are lightweight, enabling us to hang a denser rig. The gobos also offer another dimension to the look.” He adds, “I look forward to using them again, they’re an exciting new addition to the Lighting Designer’s palette.”
Lighting equipment for Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is supplied by Richard Martin Lighting, who has been supplying lighting to Jonathan Ross for the past 7 years and works with Chris Kempton on a number of other popular TV shows. Richard Martin Lighting was the first rental house in the UK to purchase the Alpha 700 range. They stock 24 Alpha Beams, 24 Alpha Washes and 24 Alpha Spot HPE’s, along with the entire Alpha Beam 300 range. They also have Alpha Wash 575 and Spot HPE, alongside an excellent range of other Clay Paky fixtures.
Steve Wells, RML Operations Manager said, “We recently purchased the Alpha Beam 300s, they proved so popular that when Ashley Lewis, Claypaky’s UK regional sales manager, informed us of the NEW more powerful version, virtually the same size and weight we had no hesitation in buying them.”
Pauly Bellman, RML Technician on the show added, “The whole range has continually proved itself both versatile and reliable, as well as passing the all important ‘can you address the unit with a pole when it’s rigged above a twenty foot set-piece?’ test. The comparative smaller size and minimal weight of the Alpha range has helped reduce some of the stress of an increasingly busy morning spent getting the rig up and running for Lighting Programmer Bill Peachment on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, that is until Chris Kempton realised it enabled him to plot more fixtures!”
Kempton won the Television Entertainment category at the recent Knights of Illumination Awards for his work on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. “It was a fantastic event,” he shared, “a great occasion to get Lighting Designers from different genres of the industry together,” He also shared where his sword (The Knight of Illumination special prize) is displayed. “My mother has promised to look after it for me and it will take pride of place above her sideboard.”
Production Team for Friday Night with Jonathan Ross:
Production company: Hotsauce TV
Director: Mick Thomas
Producer: Suzie Aplin
Set designer: Richard Drew
Lighting Director: Chris Kempton
Board Operator: Bill Peachment
Vision Operator: Rob Bradley
Vision Supervisors: Darren Lovell/David Bishop
RML Technician: Pauly Bellman