For the first time ever, an app has been nominated for a TV British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award. The Malcolm Tucker: The Missing Phone app, which has a story line based on a character of a popular BBC series called “The Thick of It” and a subsequent book “The Thick of It: The Missing DoSAC Files,” was launched in December. In a post for The Bookseller, Charlotte Williams talked to Henry Volans (@FaberDigital), head of the digital arm of UK publisher Faber & Faber and part of the team responsible for the app. In the interview, Volans responded to the nomination:
It’s really thrilling. When we made this app we wanted to do more than translate a book to an app, but made something that made sense of the platform and I think this nomination shows we’ve gone some way to doing that.
I reached out to Volans via an email interview to find out more about the app and the nomination. (The BAFTA awards will be announced May 22.) Our interview follows.
How did the app get started?
Henry Volans: It started with a question that’s quite common but to which the answer is usually “no.” We looked at the book and said “can we make an app from this?” Because the material is so rich, and I had the freedom at Faber Digital to develop something new — and on a schedule independent of the book — it got off the ground quickly. The project also worked because we went straight back to the creative team — Armando Iannucci and his four co-writers — rather than shoehorn the book into an app template.
What specific characteristics of the app do you think led to the BAFTA nomination?
Henry Volans: I suspect that it stands out from other TV-related apps because it is not a soundboard or promotional add-on. It immerses the user in Tucker’s world. And it tells a story that is completely routed in the TV series but which is made for the form of the app. New material includes the SMS messages, recent calls screen, @pulsefinger Twitter feed, and crucially the voice messages from Tucker, Ollie Reeder, and Nicola Murray.
Being the first app to be nominated for a BAFTA, do you view your nomination as an anomaly? Or is it an indication that traditional media channels are blurring?
Henry Volans: I don’t think it will prove to be an anomaly. I’m convinced that there will be more and more blurring of traditional media channels, even if this is just a first example at the edges. It is the first app ever nominated for a TV BAFTA, but apps have won in the separate video games ceremony before.
This interview was edited and condensed.