Jonny Massey - Assistant editor, Radio 4's PM and Broadcasting House


Bleary eyes all round in the office this morning after last night’s
knees-up for PM’s office manager, who is sadly departing after 28 years
of service.

The Lord Goldsmith story, Kyrgyzstan and something about a BBC DG, a
bite and an e-mail are the stories on everyone’s lips this morning.
Should we touch the latter?

Y-e-s, but perhaps with a lateral twist.

delightful colleagues at The World At One taunt the PM team. Do we know
where Kyrgyzstan is, and how to spell it? Of course we do! (Except is
it a hard g or a soft g?)n Meet PM’s irrepressible “Planning Head” over
bagels and coffee about the upcoming 35th anniversary week. The first
presenters – William Hardcastle and Derek Cooper – promised a programme
that “sums up the day… and your evening starts here.” It was first
broadcast on 6 April, 1970.

Eddie Mair is in the hotseat now and,
despite proliferation of our competitors, PM is still attracting the
biggest audience of any evening news programme on British radio.

to a staff meeting about Mark Thompson’s plans as unveiled earlier in
the week. Understandable concern expressed in some quarters.


(Good Friday.) Day off. Tune in at 5pm to listen to PM. What a coup!
Tory MP Howard Flight is on, talking for the first time about his
disagreement with Michael Howard.


Drive in to a deserted Television Centre to edit Monday’s PM.
Remarkably quiet day, but suddenly the row over Howard Flight’s sacking
deepens. The President of the Conservative Association in Arundel
(Howard Flight’s constituency)n tells our sister programme The World At
One that she might resign over the entire affair.

At our 14.30 meeting, we decide that will be our lead, especially
since the Conservative Party’s Teresa May agrees to a live interview
from her home.

On air and panic all round as we have technical
problems getting through to Teresa May. Thankfully she bears with us,
and with seconds to go, we manage to get the line up.

A little
later in the programme we are running a report from India about fears
of another tsunami. While this is on, I notice on our TV screens that
CNN is reporting that there has been another earthquake in the Indian


Brief meeting about the upcoming election campaign. We are planning
a few mini outside broadcasts for PM on issues such as health, rural
affairs and childcare. But now we need to decide whether to use the BBC
“election bus”, and if so, where.

Meet one of the BBC’s fab field producers, who has come up with a
village in Devon which has problems with its post office, housing stock
and is in a marginal seat. Perfect!

After lunch, another quick
chat with the planning team about PM’s birthday. They are all giggling.
Did I know about the mid-programme drink? It was apparently the
production secretary’s duty each day to take the presenters their
choice of drink halfway through the programme. The biggest excitement
we get these days is a bag of Minstrels – or, if we are very lucky, a
bag of Revels which Eddie Mair buys.

presenters return our calls. Joan Bakewell, Valerie Singleton and
Susannah Simons will all reappear for the birthday. Apparently in their
day, women were only allowed to do the lighter stories. We dig out some
archive and find Joan Bakewell rigorously questioning Elaine Page on
how she felt about replacing Judi Dench in the production of Cats.


Quick look at the design for PM’s birthday webpages. One of the
biggest dramas in PM’s history has been over the signature tune. Loved
and loathed in equal measure, it was finally abandoned just after the
death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

Like Doctor Who, it has made a few reappearances since then – once
because Eddie Mair challenged the audience to send in a thousand
e-mails demanding its return, and another time in a remixed format.
That was thanks to one of our listeners.

We decide we will try to make it available to our audience on the website, as a really, really irritating ring tone.

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