Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Florence and the Machine, Harry Potter premiere, Fourth Plinth and a new job

It's all been a bit busy recently. On Monday the press release about me getting a new job went out, after the staff at BBC Surrey were told by the station manager. I'll blog about how exactly that came about in a few days, as it deserves its own entry, but dealing with the release seemed to be a whole world of fun in itself.

Obviously, I'm thrilled about getting the gig, and considerably taken aback by the number of people who have got in touch on Facebook and Twitter (and one old-fashioned but very welcome call on the phone!) to offer variations on a congratulations theme.

I've been sitting on the news for some time and had to take the decision in something of an advice vacuum, as there weren't many people I could tell. Anyway - that was Monday - same day as I was reporting on the launch of Antony Gormley's fourth plinth project in Trafalgar Square. I've been meaning to blog for some time that I've got a place on the plinth myself, at the behest of London Tonight.

A few months back the planning desk asked the organisers if it would be possible to get a reporter up there. The organisers said "no, but you are more than welcome to enter the ballot". So an email went round to all the ITV regions from the London desk asking all reporters to apply, because the number of places available on the plinth are divvied up equally, geographically.

So if you live in Cumbria, statistically you've got a much better chance in the ballot that anyone who applies in the London region. I applied, and because I appear to be quite spawny at the moment, I got a place (and a good slot too - 5pm on Thu 30th July). This was very well receieved by the planning desk, and I was pleased that it was mission accomplished, but, to be honest with you, it's not really my thing.

This meant I wasn't really ready for the reaction, with everyone who knew about it excitedly asking "what are you going to do?", to which my answer was "a news report, probably".

This reached a culmination of ridiculousness on Monday when I mentioned my own slot on the plinth to Antony Gormley Himself (whose concept this whole thing is) just before I interviewed him. He suddenly became animated and said: "Really?! Congratulations! What are you going to do?" 

"Well, a news report, probably." I replied.

"Ah, of course." he said, like this would be something that would never occur to him.

The 30th July is my last day at London Tonight, and so it makes sense to have a drink with my soon-to-be-ex-colleagues afterwards, but for some reason my family want to come to London to witness me standing around like a lemon in Trafalgar Square.

I have managed to dissuade my father and wife from coming, but my mother is made of sterner stuff and remains determined to see her son mooching about on a piece of stone for an hour. I have tried to tell her it will be dull, and I will be working all day on making a TV piece leading up to it, and probably doing a live for London Tonight immediately afterwards, but she thinks this is worth travelling up to London for.

And now apparently my sister and her family are coming down from Oxfordshire too. Don't get me wrong, it's a phenomenal achievement to be chosen at random by a computer, but, as I said, not my sort of thing.

Still, I was very happy with the piece that went out on Monday, filmed inbetween dealing with the BBC press office on the final draft of the presser, and edited whilst trying to tell my bosses at ITV I was leaving.

Yesterday I met Florence off of Florence and the Machine for a second time before covering the Harry Potter premiere. It's exactly a day like this you don't need after deciding to leave the world of television.

I basically got paid to watch the new Harry Potter movie, go to the beautiful old Rivoli ballroom in Lewisham to hang out with a pop star and then straight to Leicester Square to meet Daniel Radcliffe for a red carpet live into the programme.

I have moaned about premieres in the past, and been picked up on it by the PRs, who are rightfully protective of their event, but this one was amazing.

The whole of Leicester Square had been taken over by more camera crews I've seen since the launch of Live 8, and the fans who gathered were just unbelievably loud. It was all set for an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular when the most extraordinary cloudburst threw everything it had at London.

We had thunder, lightening, hail and torrential, torrential rain. Despite all this, the PRs ferried all the stars around the sodden red carpet, sticking to the myriad live and pre-recorded commitments and delivering Daniel Radcliffe to me bang on time as we went live on the programme.

Concentration-wise these premieres are difficult enough for us to deal with, but for the stars it must be total madness, blinded by flashbulbs, deafened by screaming, tugged this way and that by PRs and then plonked in front of different crews from all over the world, all asking varying qualities of question for totally different audiences and expecting suave, witty, confident, urbanity from the poor actor they're pointing a camera at. Add the imminent threat of a lightening strike, and you're getting close to what happened yesterday.

I got Daniel as the cue was being read in the studio and so had 10 seconds to shake his hand, tell him I'd do a brief introduction then introduce him into shot. He took the time out to ask which outlet I represented and then took it on himself to be enthusiastic, articulate, thoughtful and friendly throughout the interview - namechecking London Tonight in one of his answers and making light of the appalling conditions.

Daniel Radcliffe is 19 years old. Frightening, isnt' it?



  1. Sorry to hear you are leaving London Tonight.
    Good luck with the new gig in surrey.
    Enjoyed your interview with Daniel, last night despite the weather.
    So what will you do on the plinth at the end of the month? Can hardly wait to see.

  2. Congrats on the new job Nick. I had my second-ever BBC board (some readers may need to be told that that's Beeb-speak for "job interview") in Guildford.

    I drove there from my Mum's house in Brighton. Two miles outside Guildford, my clutch cable snapped and I skidded into someone's driveway. The RAC took me to the interview, I arrived an hour and a half late, and didn't get the job.

    That was in 2003. And I've still got the same car.