When warzones are your comfort zone, it’s probably time to stop. Of course, I didn’t know that when I made the leap from foreign correspondent to presenting More4 News, but so far, this studio caper far out does clashes in Gaza, or the British assault on Basra, for sheer edgeof- your-seat horror. And I’m only partly joking.
In truth, I think it’s the revenge of my mother.
As a foreign correspondent, I could happily ignore her advice to wear lipstick, do my hair and iron my clothes. I could wear that great correspondent cover-all: a flak jacket (or in other circumstances, a hejab), put on lipstick in jeeps en route to somewhere, and ignore the hair altogether.
Now, it’s nearly an hour in make-up, gloop in the hair, and going through childhood rhymes to work out whether it’s brown and green, or blue and green that must never be seen.
The nice thing about warlords in my experience is that they have a habit of resting an AK47 next to their chairs during interviews. It immediately sets parameters, clarifying whether it’s worth questioning them over the human rights abuses they’re accused of. Having said that, they’re normally quite proud of their hard-man status and don’t need to be encouraged to tell you how they’ve achieved it. And they’ll serve you tea afterwards. All being well.
In a studio, no one bears arms. But suddenly you can find yourself in a row, directly across the table from a man without an AK47, and it’s no holds barred. Cage arguing. Extreme, pointy, and all in less than three minutes. This all takes some getting used to.
How I got involved was by flying from Bangkok to London, buying a suit and doing a screen test. Actually, four screen tests. I had my first introduction to autocue, and the whole process was scary and thrilling at the same time.
Live television is about as enervating, energising and relentlessly interesting as it gets.
I’m still living on my wits and using the same journalistic instincts as I do in the field. I’ve learnt new skills and have been confronted by unexpected, unpredictable stories and issues.
There’s a creative band on set, who admittedly have felt it necessary to tape “Kylie, Do Not Swear” to the front of the camera. But for the moment, it all feels a bit cutting edge, a bit foreign, even. Just the kind of feeling I thought you