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Politics & Radio: Where The Ugly People Go

  • By Becky Bond
  • 14 Jun, 2017
Politics is show business for ugly people, so the saying goes. I couldn't possibly comment, but I've certainly had my fill of MP's and manifestos, kitten heels and curtain calls for a while. Well, at least until the next big vote.

As a freelancer, I'll pretty much take any job going. Really. I'm not that picky. If you're paying and I've got a day free, it's a 'yes' from me. One of my proper jobs though is producing local radio programmes for the BBC, and this election lark has kept me very busy.

I had to organise a debate with five candidates and an audience of fifty. It's the sort of job which calls for spreadsheets and back up highlighters. You really have to dot the i's, cross the t's and tick all the boxes. This kind of undertaking jolts you awake at 4am, having dreamt you went to work with only a bag of blancmange and a fork.

Questions plague you constantly: Have I got a fair spread of opinions? Are the topics relevant (Brexit) but not boring (see previous bracket)? Will there be enough tension, but not a fight? Did I remember to order the vegetarian sandwiches? It's a miracle I got the job really as I'm the least political person in the newsroom. Usually, I'd rather just do some baking.

Amazingly, my plan worked though. Panellists turned up, debated and left without incident or embarrassment. The audience were engaged, the microphones were crackle-free and nobody tripped over a cable. I didn't even spill coffee down my new suit from Zara.

But no sooner had I re-organised my pencil case, than it was election night. And this was an even bigger job, involving Sharpies. I needed to coordinate six reporters into a live programme between 1-6am. I can't remember the last time I stayed up a full 24 hours without a trace of alcohol in my bloodstream.

The building was buzzing with phones pinging and tweets declaring seats for left, right and centre. Debs from the café came in specially to rustle up a trolley of goodies for the team and Mussy, one of the Producer/Presenters (aka The Office Feeder) brought in a vat of curry to help us push through until daybreak.

Hours one and two were a breeze, but then it seemed every result in West Yorkshire came in at once and I had to ditch my dream of a mid-show masala. As the reds and blues merged on screens before my eyes, reporters rallied, statisticians tallied and by 6am parliament was hung.

At 7am, I caught my slumped, haggard reflection in the train window on the way home and realised I had more in common with the candidates than I thought; as the saying goes, radio is really just television for ugly people.
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