The show was broadcast on Christmas Eve's ITV 1 prime time (photo: Tony Edmonds)
UK - S+H Technical supplied 360m of their ShowLED animation cloth, 20m of 1 and 2m Pea-light strings and 2000 x 4-channel DMX controlled Pea-lights - used to decorate three Christmas trees - for The Abba Christmas Party, a TV special produced by Thames, part of FreemantleMedia UK at the London Studios on the South Bank. The show was broadcast on Christmas Eve's ITV 1 prime time.

Production designer Joshua Grace created the 'Abba Lodge' - a super Christmassy, fun-filled Scandinavian inspired environment - in a nod to Abba's Swedish roots - and Festive Cabin for presenter Paddy McGuinness, who was joined by a host of music, TV and theatre stars.

They performed a wide range of Abba songs and shared their own personal Abba memories in a series of chat-style session, all celebrating of 41 years since Abba released their Greatest Hits album in 1975. An exclusive interview with Bjorn Ulvaes revealed some of his own Abba memories.

The ShowLED animation cloth - one of S+H's most adaptable and poplar LED drape products - was used as the 'night sky' at the back of the set.

Visible through the various layers of scenics, the idea was that it could either twinkle away or have subtle animations run through it - like the Northern Lights - plus disco style patterns for the up-tempo numbers. It was chosen because it is "extremely versatile" said Joshua.

The S+H crew on site led by Terry Murtha dressed the three large Christmas trees with the Pea lights, and once that was complete, handed them over to Joshua and his art department for further decorative embellishment!

The Pea-light strings were used to dress the set balcony area and the stair handrails, all adding to the general warm glow factor.

"Seeing the twinkling night sky beyond and through the set, plus all the tree lights and those adorning the set was fundamental to creating the unique look and ambience of the show": explained Joshua, whose biggest design challenge was to ensure there was plenty of contingency for Chris Kempton to ensure each performance could look different and individual when it came to the lighting treatment.

S+H's Terry Murtha commented, "Yes this one was really good fun - and the results looked spectacular! We were all very impressed by just how much variation can be made to a studio with thought and careful application of 'the twinkle factor'."

The show was directed by John L Spencer, the executive producers were Mel Balac and Suzy Lamb and the series producer was Barry Hart.

(Jim Evans)

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