Wake up faced with a load of ironing for my long weekend at the Edinburgh TV Festival, having spent yesterday – my day off – trying to file a story about Superstars on a laptop which doesn’t do anything it’s supposed to.
Take computer to work for some much-needed attention. Spend half an hour on the phone to Polly Hudson, my co-columnist on TV Land, working out what to put in Saturday’s page.
Write a few things up and congratulate myself on being organised. That’s when it all starts going wrong.
Get a call with a belting story – Changing Rooms is being axed. I talk to the newsdesk and we decide to hold it – it’d be a great hit for Saturday’s paper.
At 3.30pm I set off in the car for Luton airport, but get a helpful call pointing out that BBC1 boss Lorraine Heggessey’s session is tomorrow afternoon and she might mention the Changing Rooms story. In short, it might not hold.
I am stuck in horrific traffic on the M1 – but the news editor agrees we have to do the story now. As I’m going nowhere fast, I get quotes from Heggessey and the BBC en route. But time is ticking on – at 5.30pm, I’m still not at the airport and my flight leaves at 6.20pm.
The phone rings. It’s Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. He is great and gives fantastic quotes, which I scribble down leaning on the steering wheel.
Finally I get off the motorway and park. There is no time – I have to either file the story or catch the flight.
The story wins.
I ring it through to the copytakers and receive a “hilarious” text from the editor saying he’s decided not to give me a byline (funny guy).
When I try to catch the later flight to Edinburgh I get laughed at – it’s full and they won’t put me on standby.
Great. Wearily I traipse back to the car and drive home, while our travel department sorts me out with new flights – this time from Stansted – tomorrow morning.
By lunchtime I am finally in Edinburgh, with John Humphrys’ McTaggart lecture safely e-mailed to my now-working computer.
Go straight to hotel room to file story about how he thinks all TV is rubbish – even though he hasn’t owned one for five years.
Then get a cab to the conference centre, register, and try to get into Heggessey’s session, which is full, and then another one, which is also full. A triumph.
Sit in lobby area talking to PRs and TV types, then head off to Five’s autumn launch. Helped by several glasses of champagne and a couple of cocktails, this goes with a swing – especially when we are given a goody bag containing a portable video recorder (don’t ask, I haven’t worked it out myself yet).
Then it’s off to dinner with showbiz PR company Taylor Herring at a private club before hitting the George bar again at about 1.30am. Some of us to troop back to the Five bash to see if anyone is still around – they aren’t, but we hit the dance floor anyway.
Finally it’s back to the hotel for a couple of late night drinks. Bed: 4.30am.
Get up knackered, thirsty and hungry – forgot to put room service thing on the door and breakfast ended some hours ago. Head back to conference centre and sustain myself with coffee before the session with Monica Lewinsky and Rebecca Loos. Max Clifford makes a few cheap jibes at Lewinsky and is put in his place by BBC journalist John Sweeney, who tells him to crawl back into the gutter where he belongs.
Then it is Simon Cowell’s turn to drone on – I can’t face him so go back to press room to read the papers.
The evening kicks off with an ITV drinks party in which we try very hard to extract stories from programme chief Nigel Pickard, then it’s off to the BBC dinner, followed by a comedy show, which makes me laugh until my face aches (ie a lot). Back to the George at about 2am to point out how drunk everyone else is and try not to get in the same state myself. I fail. Bed: 5am. Double ouch.
Leave hotel feeling like I haven’t really been to sleep and head off for the dreaded conference centre again.
BBC director-general Mark Thompson tells us that the corporation should be “excellent” (you don’t say) and that this can be achieved by swapping a load of copycat leisure and reality shows for comedy. File that and then it’s time for Channel 4 lunch in a swanky hotel.
My news editor isn’t interested in a story about a C4 show in which a bloke tries to prove Mozart had Tourette’s Syndrome.
And then it’s all over. Having packed and checked out I head for the airport and home, eventually, at 11.30pm.
Bank Holiday and a day off. Phew.
I have a long lie-in and talk to the newsdesk, who tell me not to file any stories but to save them until I’m in the office. What a treat. Celebrate with a glamorous trip to Sainsbury’s.
Back to work and trying to sort out a story which involves lots of calls to America and trying to find various people at RDF, who appear to have all gone on holiday simultaneously.
Start planning TV Land, because I need to get ahead of myself before going on holiday on Thursday. File a story which gets held because there’s no room.
Decide to duck the launch of XFactor, because I need to write another story and more TV Land.
File exclusive about David Jason’s new ITV show but get the “Will it hold?” question around 2pm.
Safe in the knowledge that they are OK for TV stories for a couple of days at least, I go home to pack. By the time they run out I’ll be on a beach.