broadcast day begins at 6.30am, known in some quarters of BBC radio as
Gilligan o’clock. The wonders of technology mean I can broadcast on
Good Morning Wales via ISDN from my attic. Early morning two-ways can
be something of a poisoned chalice – fortunately Lord Hutton doesn’t
scrutinise my every pre-breakfast word – but the parliamentary pingpong
between Commons and Lords over the Government’s anti-terror plans
hardly needs “sexing up”.
I spend the rest of the day at the BBC in Millbank.
Cardiff for the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ conference, where Charles
Kennedy is billed as the key speaker. Sadly for the Lib Dems, the
parliamentary marathon at Westminster keeps him away. Instead, I get to
interview a Welsh Assembly member for our main TV programme, Wales
Today. The programme, recently crowned the Royal Television Society
national and regional news magazine of the year, has been relaunched
this week. An encouraging 396,000 viewers tuned in today, although
possibly for the weekend rugby preview rather than the latest on the
The Lib Dem
conference continues. BBC Wales devotes four hours of live TV to it –
half in English, half in Welsh. My role is to provide commentary from
the conference hall. During a less than scintillating debate, I let our
audience know that France has beaten Ireland at rugby – now there’s
public service broadcasting for you.
Half way through our coverage in English, the party’s broadcasting spokeswoman decides to switch into Welsh.
a simultaneous translator is on hand, although our viewers may have
been a little puzzled as they hear a male voice translating an
in-vision woman speaker.
only one Welsh story in town today. Unfortunately for me, that town is
Edinburgh, where unbeaten Wales is playing Scotland in a Six Nations
rugby international – cheered on by 40,000 travelling fans.
almost the last Welshman in Cardiff, I find myself presenting Sunday
Edition, our lunchtime radio programme. In 30 minutes, we travel from
Milwaukee to Murrayfield via Aberdeen. I get to interview two Welsh
rugby legends from the 1970s, Phil Bennett and Gerald Davies. I try not
to sound as star-struck as I am. Wales wins.
Back to Westminster, where the election campaign continues.
promises to be the most confusing election yet for our audiences,
thanks to devolution. Key issues such as health and education are run
in Wales by the National Assembly. So almost every major party policy
launch at Westminster stops at Offa’s Dyke. Welsh Tories are still
spinning after Michael Howard turned up at their conference in Cardiff
to announce a review of the national curriculum – in schools in England.
Tories’ plans for council tax rebates for pensioners and Labour’s
18-week health waiting pledge apply in England only, not that you would
notice from some of the party propaganda and media coverage it
Away from the election, today’s report from the
defence select committee into army training was prompted by the deaths
of four young recruits at barracks in Surrey. One of those who died,
Cheryl James, came from our patch.
Her father Des gave evidence
to the inquiry. A colleague in Wrexham interviews him about the report
while I interview MPs and put together TV packages from Westminster.
Once upon a time BBC journalists worked for either television or radio. Then we became “bi-medial” working for both.
Now, thanks to the web, we are tri-medial. The BBC Wales News website receives six million page impressions a month.
write a weblog (www.bbc.co.uk/walesatwestminsterweblog), a diary column
of whatever takes my fancy in the world of politics. It seems to reach
the parts Welsh TV and radio cannot reach – we get emails from Newport
to New Zealand.
This week’s “highlights” include a freedom of information list of the gifts donated to the Welsh Assembly’s presiding officer.
Lord Elis-Thomas will never be short of polyester neckware or Libyan prayer mats.
Sun includes the headline “Wales is so hip it hurts”. It doesn’t
mention sheep, badgers or Ron Davies once. Now, there’s progress.
Day – and another 6.30am start in the attic. Radio Wales has a
two-and-a-half hour live programme presented by Richard Evans. My
contributions appear between visits to an Abergavenny cheese factory
and an estate agent in Bangor. Gordon Brown sits down 10 minutes before
my live appearance on our lunchtime TV news.
A quick call to a
contact on the mobile while I’m being wired for sound makes sure I’m
across that holy grail of “the Welsh angle”. The working day ends at
6.30pm with Wales Today. Short films made in Wales show how Budget
announcements affect our audience. I chair a discussion between a
minister and three opposition MPs. It’s surprising what you can fit in
to three-and-a-half minutes.
I get away from Westminster to take
my usual seat at the Valley, home to Charlton Athletic, with three
minutes to spare. Charlton beat Spurs 2-0.
And that reminds me – when I grow up I want to be a sports reporter.