Sunday, April 29, 2007

When it's a slow news day

Black and white live television with heavy, relatively immobile cameras

When I was waiting for the hook up via satellite truck with Sky News on the West Ham story on Friday, I was reflecting how much television had changed since I first appeared back in the late 1950s at the age of twelve.

In most respects it has changed for the better. I remember one particularly poor ITV programme I appeared in called 'In Search of Adventure' which was supposed to be directed at a 'teenage' audience. If there was any adventure out there, we didn't find it. I don't know who was more embarrassed, the compere (a decent drummer) or me as we struggled to liven things up.

These days its often a slow news day when Sky comes on the line. If I'm in London, they might ask me to drop into Millback and fill in for some minutes. The last time I was there a few weeks ago the studio was so quiet that people were sitting around chatting about their holiday plans. Or at the weekend they might ask me to get down to Stratford on Avon with the satellite truck and do something on 'Englishness' in front of the Shakespeare birthplace.

Sometimes when Radio 5 have had a staffing crisis they have asked me on to cover the graveyard slot phone in. There you are with four callers on the monitor and you know that most of them have had a drink or have views out of left field or both. Most weeks I do some radio for someone, even if it's only Saga Radio.

I rarely get paid for any of this (although for some reason BBC Wales and Scotland do), although I have to log all my appearances and it is considered in my annual salary review. But the honest truth is that I am hooked on media work and I love being in the studio even if the audience is in the hundreds. So I will be missing the Spurs game, which is a mixed blessing, as I will be in Helsinki as a prelude to the main event. Yawn
Indeed, it's going to be a rush to get back to The Valley on Tuesday for the sponsors' evening.

Tonight ITV London and Anglia will be repeating a retrospective interview with me at 6 p.m. in the Fragment Films programme The Way We Were.


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