The strangest thing about being interviewed live on BBC Radio Berkshire yesterday was not actually the interview itself; it was sitting in my living room about three hours before the interview listening to me being named and discussed by the presenter of the programme, Suzanne Courtney (Pop Idol candidate back in 2003) and Anne Diamond (of TV-am/Gastric band fame) who was in the process of introducing her own show. A bit surreal…
I had been asked to report to BBC Berkshire at 2:50pm which seemed a little late; the interview was due to start just after 3pm and would last, on and off for about an hour so, ever the rebel, I arrived with my ‘entourage’ (friend Zoe) in tow at around 2:15pm. The security guard phoned through to the studio; I was far too early! What happened to the sipping of Champagne in the green room? The green room ended up being the reception to BBC Caversham which is also home to the monitoring service. BBC Radio Berkshire forms just one small part of Caversham Park, an elegant stately home that overlooks Reading and the Thames Valley from its position on the hill above the river although the view from the back of the building is decidedly less glamorous than this picture of the front would imply.
A few moments before 3pm a lady appeared and ushered us round the corner and into the production area adjacent to the studio. She introduced us to the work experience student who she was working with that afternoon. He seemed just as star-struck as I was (there aren’t that many former Pop Idol contestants in the world) and I can’t help but think he thought I was just a little bit more famous than was the case. I didn’t take the opportunity of disappointing him. After only a few moments I was escorted into the studio itself and shook hands with Suzanne (or Suze as everyone seemed to refer to her as). This was a hand that had no doubt shaken the hand of Simon Cowell and as such a moment to cherish.
‘Suze’ very quickly put me at ease chatting in general terms about what we would be doing. She had read the information sheet that I had emailed the station the previous week and told me that she would really leave it up to me to decide what to talk about which is what we did. The hour was interspersed with music (decided by a pen-pusher in Birmingham which is why the Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’ never got a hearing – plus the fact that the presenters are, apparently, under strict instructions to avoid at all costs ‘cheesy segways’ – “too local radio”) and travel news (from London). The hour seemed to pass very quickly indeed and although I think I spoke well and coherently (“…you sounded a little nervous at first but it was great, interesting and funny…” according to one of my relations), there was such a mass of things that I wanted to say but didn’t get a chance to include.
Immediately afterwards I went with Zoe to the pub; I can see why so many in the media end up on the booze! It seemed the natural thing to do after the tension in the build-up and then the successful completion of the interview. It took only a few minutes to make two pints of beer disappear…
Back home I read the few emails and comments on Facebook, many of which made me smile. Chris, the cyclist who did what I did last year but who was about two weeks behind me on his cycle commented “You sound nothing like what I imagined!!” (we have only ever communicated over the Internet), Richard (he of Emmerdale fame) “Intelligent, eloquent and amusingly informative with a welcome smattering of northern vowels. Well done.” and Julie, wife of an ex-colleague “You’re a natural… I’m sure the downloads will flood in now. Well done you!“
But on that last point… they haven’t, so, in terms of my marketing campaign and to borrow a few lines from Churchill, this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end but it may be the end of the beginning. Or something along those lines…
Update, 6pm: A couple more bits of feedback have arrived;
“Add media star and author to your ‘Who’s Who’ entry immediately!”
“Félicitations pour ta prestation radiophonique – un vrai pro – en fait tu as raté ta vocation parce que tu t’es très bien débrouillé et tu as tout à fait une voix radiophonique avec un petit accent du Yorkshire.”