Victoria Derbyshire is sunning herself in Tenerife, Nicky Campbell’s dashing to Birmingham for a lively outside broadcast on the New Year’s party killings – so we’re having to make final plans without them. And a major concern is completing the collection for Julian Worricker’s leaving present (it’s a hammock – to reflect all that lying around he’ll be doing now he doesn’t have to get up at 3.30am).
We’ve sent Christian Fraser and a team to live on an estate in Leeds to see what life is like in an area blighted by crime, poverty and drugs. We get the all clear from BBC Editorial Policy for their secret recordings of people behaving badly.
Elsewhere, plans for an Olympic special on Tuesday gather pace, but some stories aren’t quite happening. We’re hoping that the first programme with Nicky on Monday can make an impact – both editorially and with the new presentation team.
A champagne start as we say farewell to Julian. It’s an odd feeling being light headed at 9a.m. – and tonight is his leaving do. New jingles arrive and we finally sort out the running orders. Radio Five Live controller Bob Shennan wanders down with that “everything all right?” look on his face. I try to reassure him.
The Leeds team are now trying to stand up story of packs of kids living rough in dilapidated houses — beyond the police and social services and living off the proceeds of crime. Story emerging is one of crime on a scale not even hinted at in the official figures.
Champion jockey Tony McCoy looking good as a guest for Monday morning – and we’ll get his mate Steve McManaman on too. Getting better sports interviews is one of the objectives of the new-look programme.
First morning – and it all goes remarkably smoothly. I arrive at 5.30am. The presenters have already been here an hour and output editor Jonathan Crawford and three producers have been up all night, putting the finishing touches to the programme. Christmas and holidays have meant there’s been no time to get both Nicky and Victoria into the studio to do pilot shows – so the odd clunky moment is inevitable. Generally they cope brilliantly and they get on well on and off air. Our reporting from Leeds is powerful: it’s a dose of harsh reality at odds with the Government’s line that a little bit of sport and culture can divert kids from crime.
A strong sports morning too – Christian Ziege tells us about nearly losing his leg after an injury; Gary Lineker talks Spurs and Everton, and Steve McManaman tells us what he’s heard about whether his mate Robbie Fowler is really on the move to Man City.
We’ve got the first programme under our belts – now the task will be to keep the momentum going. Bob wanders down again – looks more relaxed now.
Much smoother on air and a very strong morning, as we get an exclusive interview with the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, who tells us he wants Britain to bid for the 2012 Olympics and that if we do we stand a good chance.
Other contributors include athlete Dwain Chambers, Media Secretary Tessa Jowell and EastEnders’ ‘Nasty Nick’, who reflects on a night of carnage in Corrie. BBC suits very happy – herograms flutter down. They are still natural pessimists though. One asks: “Are you sure you can keep this up?” Victoria and Nicky happier with today too. Both sounding more relaxed each day. The job for the production team is to give them enough space to be relaxed and informal but to keep the pace of the programme up and the journalism strong.
On Five Live we pride ourselves on doing the news with a smile, but there wasn’t much room for that this morning. Policeman stabbed to death in Manchester; exclusive about gunrunning in Albania and extraordinary tales of poverty in Leeds give the programme a very strong range of stories.
But we were missing enough of those items that might make you leave the house with a spring in your step.
Bit of agonising about this in the post-programme meeting, but it’s a good sign that, after the first three programmes, we’re worrying about minor tweaking rather than anything more fundamental.