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Lyn has asked me for my favourite 2015 article. This is it. The background is that I was invited during the summer to attend the BBC Radio Sussex studio in Brighton, Sussex for a recorded interview, and when finished was asked if I would like to come on a regular basis to review the newspapers. This is not as easy as it sounds, because I had to be as professional as possible and not make an idiot of myself. On the morning I am due to be live on the Allison Ferns Show, I pore over my own copy of the newspaper and take notes of the items that catch my eye. I then do more research, for example I googled in all the James Bonds, and was able to quote the number of movies each one had made, and the years.
When you are talking live on air to over 60,000 listeners, you are being trusted to be tactful, sensible, and express opinions that maybe controversial but in good taste. It is now a regular monthly booking, and the bonus has been people contacting me afterwards to ask me to come to their club/society to give them a talk. Am I nervous? No. Do I enjoy it? Yes, most definitely. Would I do it every week if asked? Oh yes. But I haven’t….yet
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Being invited back to live radio is quite a boost to the ego. BBC Radio Sussex have a daily lunch time newspaper review where an invited guest attends the studio to discuss the news with the presenter, and this week Joe Talbot was standing in for the lovely Allison Ferns.

Joe has a couple of weekend slots, one specialising on gardening. We didn’t discuss his prowess in this direction, but there was plenty else to talk about.

Before leaving home, I have a very good look at my usual daily paper, making notes about items that catch my eye. These might be main news stories, but often about something trivial.

I arrive before the appointed 12.30 time, and then sit and read more papers, making more notes. These have been provided by Fiona, the producer. She is the boss, and must be obeyed. I had come up with a good gag, concerning the recent hacking of the Talk Talk web site, where over 4 million customers had their personal details compromised.

Having a silly sense of humour, I was going to mention that I had managed to acquire a copy of the ransom note, as a 15 year old Northern Irish youth was being questioned by police. This is a copy.

Dear Brothers Talk Talk. I assume that you are twins.

My name is Sean, I am 15, and I have hacked into your 4 million customer database.

My demands are as follows:

Automatic entry into the finals of Britain’s Got Talent – I tell jokes

One of those new Apple watches where there’s no big and little hands to confuse me

You guarantee delivery of my private letter to Father Christmas

 If you say yes to my demands then I promise faithfully to be a good boy next year.

As a suspect was now being questioned by Police, Fiona and Joe decided it might be a little too controversial to be included. But we all had a good laugh.

The 1pm news occurred, and then I was seated opposite Joe, had a little chat about items, and then off we went. The next 40 minutes dashed so fast, and included an item about sat navs.

Listeners rang in about their own experiences, and I was able to add whereby I purchased one of these devices over two years ago, and have yet to master, let alone use.

We discussed the new James Bond movie, SPECTRE, comparing the merits of various actors who have played the lead role. Interestingly, neither of us mentioned Roger Moore, and I assume that Joe shared my opinion that he is the lightest makeweight of the lot.

Another amusing item concerned a lady patron of Nottingham Royal Concert Hall. She was in the stalls, enjoying a performance of ‘The Bodyguard’. She knew all the words, all the tunes, and was lustily accompanying those on stage, to the annoyance of other patrons. She was asked to pipe down, or leave.

After taking offence, she left, way before the interval.

It is fascinating, being in the studio, watching the presenter pressing relevant button for travel and weather reports, as well as the occasional piece of music, when we chat further privately.

Fiona kindly took some photos when my time was over, and then it was back in the outer office. She had the diary there already, wanting me to book a date for the next time.

So, what’s it like, being live on air, no safety net, talking to anything between 60,000 and 100,000 people. My comparison is speaking to an elderly relative, easily offended, amusing but not contentious, all the while enjoying their company.

Am I looking forward to the next time? Very much so.


Harry Pope is a writer www.harrythewriter.com   talker www.harrythetalker.com and walker www.harrythewalker.com. When he can he also blogs on www.harrytheblogger.com