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PoliyisIsShowbiz


My View - Wednesday June 21 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, one of my jobs is producing local radio programmes for the BBC, and this election lark kept me very busy. I had to organise a debate with with five candidates and an audience of fifty. 

It's the sort of undertaking 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. The bags under my eyes grew darker as niggles kept me awake the week before -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 decaf coffee? 

At one point, I was jolted awake at 4am having dreamt I went to work with just a bag of blancmange and a fork. But the night terrors must have galvanized my mind because D-Day (Debate Day) actually went quite well.
Panellists turned up and made salient points/dodged questions without incident or too much 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. 

But no sooner had I re-organised my pencil case, than it was election night. And this was an even bigger job, calling for Sharpies. I needed to co-ordinate 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. My pallor took on the tone of white sliced bread and I began avoiding mirrors.

Adrenalin worked its magic though and coupled with a top team spirit, the building began to buzz. Phones were ringing, texts were pinging and tweets declared seats for left, right and centre. And there was food: Debs from the café came in especially to do a trolley dash through the newsroom with pork pies and pastries, 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, as I caught my slumped reflection in the train window on the way home, I 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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