Callum Denning: Bringing Breakdown Live to life

Callum Denning - Arsenal's Live Producer

Callum Denning is in his third season as Arsenal’s Live Producer focusing on Breakdown Live, and can provide us with a unique insight into matchday within the club’s new studio as well as tell us about a talented group of presenters in front of the camera.

My job as live producer focuses heavily on putting our online matchday show together. I’ve always loved broadcast media and I’ve freelanced in the industry since I was 18. I studied radio at university and TV and radio at college and, when I left uni, I worked for LBC Radio and at Birmingham City too, where I looked after live shows.

I remember seeing a live producer role advertised at Arsenal and I was immediately drawn to it. I was working for LBC when I received the call telling me I’d got the job.

I’d just gone to a 15-minute feature so was able to leave the studio briefly and answer the phone. It was a really proud feeling – I had to go back and do the rest of the show with a massive grin on my face!

I joined the club at the tail end of the 2020/21 season. The matchday show at that point was put together remotely because of Covid. We returned to Emirates Stadium for the following campaign and went back to the pre-Covid format of recording the show in our green screen studio inside the stadium.

For me, it didn’t really feel as though we were at the stadium; there was a bit of a detachment. This season, the key thing for us is feeding into the matchday experience. A lot of our viewers don’t have the chance to visit the Emirates – they’ll often be watching from all over the world – and we’re really trying to bridge that gap and make them feel part of it.

As a result, we’ve moved the studio into daylight. We’re now based in the Clock End, in the My Arsenal Rewards box. The audience can see the crowd building in the background, allowing them to get a sense of that anticipation and hum as kick-off draws closer. We’ve amplified that further by bringing in a live studio audience. That helps create an atmosphere for our viewers.

"We try to ensure the show is as interactive and engaging for every Arsenal supporter watching"

Another way we’re bridging the divide for international supporters is by featuring them on the show and turning the spotlight their way. We have a feature focusing on a day in the life of an international supporter, which we kicked off with Tiffany from Arsenal America.

Showing the commitment that international Gooners have for the team works on a few different levels – it demonstrates to other fans tuning in from around the world that there are people who go through the same matchday routine as them and it educates UK-based fans as to the size of The Arsenal.

It’s an absolute pleasure working with our on-screen talent – Nick Bright, Nicole Holliday and Adrian Clarke. Nick is a very accomplished broadcaster. He’s worked on BBC Radio 1Xtra and 5 Live for years and loves The Arsenal. He’s a pro and is really relatable to the audience, so is a natural choice as host. It’s the same with Nicole – she has a similar personality, is very engaging and is really knowledgeable about all things Arsenal too.

As a former pro himself, Adrian is able to offer a unique degree of insight. He has an incredible statistical mind. He’s played in the Premier League and knows the game from back to front. What he doesn’t know about football isn’t worth knowing. Adrian provides the analytical side of our coverage, which we find dovetails nicely with Nick and Nicole, who give us that fan perspective. That dynamic is a massive part of Breakdown Live.

Breakdown Live

We try to ensure the show is as interactive and engaging for every Arsenal supporter watching, regardless of where in the world they tune in from.

When I come in on a Monday, I’ll have a rough idea of what we’re going to discuss on the show and then start to formulate a plan for how it’s going to run. We’ll usually start the show with some reflection on the previous result before turning the attention to the opposition.

I’ll spend a large portion of the week burying my head in stats, pulling out interesting facts about the opposing team. Once we have those statistics, I set about translating the numbers in a visual and digestible fashion for the viewer. I’ll cut videos and put graphics together too – it’s pretty full-on.

The show has changed a lot this season – and a big part of it now is finding guests. I often reach out to other departments to find out if anyone of note is going to be around on a matchday and, if they are, how we can maximise any time we get with them. We had Chunkz at the first home game of the season and then Logan Paul for the following one.

"The club makes you feel valued and I’m lucky enough to have a lot of very talented colleagues who make every day a joy"

The tone of the show changes depending on the opposition. There are games where you come in feeling full of confidence, which will be reflected in the pre-match chat. We’ll discuss how Arsenal can exploit the opposition’s weaknesses and really get at them.

But then, for those matches where you are playing other top-level teams in the Premier League or Europe, we’ll highlight key players in our defence who will have to be at their best to help the team to get a result.

You need to make sure the tone of voice is right and provide the audience with what they want. If you’ve just lost a couple of games in a row, supporters won’t necessarily want to hear you cracking loads of jokes.

But when things are going well, you can have a lot of fun. William Saliba’s chant was born at the Bournemouth game at the start of the season – and at half-time, we just had Nick singing it for about five minutes. It’s all about getting the tone right – you absolutely don’t want to look out of touch.

I’m loving life at Arsenal and I’ve found it to be a really enjoyable place to work. The club makes you feel valued and I’m lucky enough to have a lot of very talented colleagues who make every day a joy.

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