Super League’s creative content guru promises new look in 2020

The mastermind behind Super League’s two new TV shows has promised to show Rugby League in a way it’s never been seen before.

Lee Hicken, who heads up award-winning film company The City Talking while also carrying the title of Creative Director of Super League, is the man behind a four-part, behind the scenes documentary called We Play League, and an hour-long, weekly magazine-style show called Inside Super League, both of which debut on Sky Sports this week.

Hicken and his team were given access all areas throughout the 2019 season to produce the documentary, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of the campaign, while focusing on several players such as Zak Hardaker, Jackson Hastings and Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

“The point of it is to tell stories inside Super League, but not just to the converted,” Hicken told League Express.

“We believe that when people watch it, they won’t have seen Super League like this before. It gets into the most intimate, private moments, inside the dressing room and everywhere else.”

The show will air on Sky Sports but will also be shown on Amazon Prime, a portal that has seen Hicken’s previous work, the Leeds Rhinos documentary ‘As Good As it Gets’ and ‘Take Us Home’ the Leeds United docu-series, earn widespread acclaim.

“We need to let people outside the UK see the show and get to know what Super League is all about, that’s why we worked so hard to get it on Amazon Prime, so an international audience can see it.

“But SKY in the UK is still the hub for sport, so that’s why we wanted to make it available on both portals.”

Meanwhile, Inside Super League will be presented by broadcaster Will Perry and former Leeds Rhinos and England player Lois Forsell, with the show being broadcast every Wednesday on Sky at 7pm & 10pm.

“It’s going to provide a fresher look at Super League,” Hicken said.

“We’ll be talking to people not always on TV. We’ve a new presenting team and the set design, the whole show is made like it is a Nike advert, that’s the look. We work in fashion and TV a lot so we know what’s cool, and it is brands like Nike and Adidas, so let’s look like that, we don’t have to look like a boring TV show. We’re going to be as fresh as possible; we don’t want interviews on our show that people are doing elsewhere.

“It’s a big piece of work, but Sky Sports are fully behind it, it’s regular programming and it’s great for Super League.”
Hicken has two objectives in mind that he’d like to achieve through the added exposure.

“There’s the measurable metrics. Bigger attendances and larger TV viewing figures. That’s the stuff we’ll measure.

“But for me personally, it’s a bigger picture of what I want to do with my life. This isn’t the most lucrative thing I can do, I’m doing it because I grew up loving Rugby League. It’s a passion project.

“I want to sit on a beach in 20 years’ time and say we changed a tired, northern sport to one where American people are watching it in a bar. You’ve got your money and stat goals, then your achievement goals. Rugby league is the beautiful, undiscovered sport. I just won’t rest until that mission is accomplished, however long it takes.”