So I was all prepared for a full day’s writing. I got the call at around 11am: it was BBC News (formerly News 24), asking if I could come on and talk about the Golden Globes results, on air at around 2.50pm, arrival time 2.30. Even though it meant blowing a hole in my writing day, I said yes, as it’s flattering to be asked onto The News, and it’s pretty easy to say about three pertinent things in two minutes to a practised BBC newsreader. Unfortunately I was in my writing-day civvies and would actually have to buy a shirt on the way to Television Centre. Not a big problem. I need a new “TV shirt” anyway, and there’s a great big new shopping centre right opposite the BBC now. Ugly and sad Westfield may be, but it’s bloody convenient.
Then, as if by divine providence, I got a call from Front Row, asking if I could go on and talk about … the Golden Globes. It was to be a pre-recorded interview with Kirsty Lang and I could squeeze it in after BBC News and before I went off to a film screening (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button), at 6pm. My writing day was in tatters but I had two unexpected paid broadcasting engagements on the same subject, in two different BBC buildings and on two different media. To be honest, I was quite happy that my day was going in a different direction; life would be intolerable if everything went to plan.
So, I put in a couple of hours’ writing – tragically, not actually finishing either of the jobs I had planned to finish, largely due to spending most of the time busily researching my two Golden Globes jobs (the latter, for Front Row, involved comparing the results of the Globes with the Oscars, to see how accurate a predictor they really are – not especially being the answer). I left for West London at 1.30. I arrived at Westfield at 2.00. I found a nice blue shirt in Next and bought it. I arrived at TV Centre at 2.30. I watched the clips they had lined up. I changed into my shirt in the toilet (no, they don’t have dressing rooms at BBC News), and sat in the Green Room, powdered and de-shined, to acclimatise and go through my notes. My 2.50 slot went sailing by, while George Bush did his live farewell news conference. They told me, via a chain of people younger than me in headsets, that I’d now be on at 3.28. This was fine. I didn’t need to be at Radio 4 (in another part of London) until 4.30. Then David Milliband delivered a statement about Gaza in the Commons, which, again, BBC News took live.
At 3.45, they led me into the studio, miked me up and sat me on the guest chair to the right of the big news desk, next to Emily Maitlis and John Sopel, the man with the blackest hair in newscasting. The three of us sat and watched Milliband, bored, for ten minutes. I fiddled with my cufflinks and shuffled my scrap of paper with the Golden Globe winners’ names on it. Then, just after 4pm, Maitlis passed on the now-inevitable news (my own personal bulletin): the Golden Globes item had been bumped. I had been bumped. I was David Duchovny on Larry Sanders. I was Bruno Kirby.
Yes, I will still get my modest appearance fee (and I have a nice new blue shirt), but the whole not-being-on took a total of two and a half hours out of my working day. It’s most aggravating, never mind that it’s all part of the cut and thrust of live, rolling news. Anyway, I arrived at Broadcasting House for Front Row, recorded my interview with Kirsty, and made my screening on time, having done a total of about one and a half hours’ of planned writing all day and failed to eat my packed lunch (there just wasn’t the time or opportunity). But hey, I’d had a crazy, rollercoaster “journey” and learnt some important lessons, and at least the second interview took place, and went out, on Radio 4, last night. It’s on iPlayer, if you’re interested, and it’s the last item.
Benjamin Button was almost three hours long. Why would anyone make a film that long? When I got home, late, I watched The Golden Globes from the night before.