My day in a BBC broom cupboard…
I’ve spent a fair bit of today tucked away in a broom cupboard at the BBC in Southampton talking about our new book The Wit and Wisdom of Only Fools and Horses (compiled by Only Fools and Horses creator John Sullivan’s son Dan and with a foreword by Del Boy himself, Sir David Jason) and my book Only Fools and Horses – The Official Inside Story.
When I say broom cupboard I am, of course, joking: it was actually a little studio (pictured) where you could in theory talk to any other radio station in the world with the sort of sound quality which means you could be in the same room as the broadcaster you’re being interviewed by. My interviews today weren’t so far away – I spoke to BBC local radio stations in Hereford & Worcester, Derby, Humberside & Lincolnshire and Jersey. However, as you can see in the picture the studio wasn’t very big. I didn’t have a cat with me to swing, but the studio wouldn’t have been big enough to swing one in anyway (not to mention, swinging a cat around must be illegal…)
I’ve always loved radio. I’m an avid radio listener and a long time ago, when I was at college, part of my course involved making our own radio shows which was great fun. So it’s medium I’m very comfortable with and doing interviews about Only Fools and Horses is always fun. It’s one of those shows that everyone – young or old – loves and recounting stories about how it came about or how John Sullivan came up with some of the best moments is always a pleasure.
Over the years I’ve done quite a lot of down-the-line interviews (mostly about Only Fools but also about where TV shows are filmed – as I’m also co-author of The British Television Location Guide). I once even did an interview on the phone from Ayres Rock in Australia while on holiday at gawd-know’s-o’clock, upside-down time!) You basically sit in a little room in front of a microphone and every so often you hear a phone dialing and lights flash on a little control panel. You then put some headphones on and someone comes on the line, says hello and tells you that the presenter will talk to you shortly. You then hear what’s being broadcast – usually the weather, traffic, news or sometimes the end of a record – and you’re off.
They are usually live, but are sometimes pre-recorded and broadcast later that week. The presenter will (hopefully) know about the book or whatever you’re there to plug and you just chat away until time’s up (usually after about 15 minutes). It’s really just like being on the phone to someone – but with loads of other people listening in! It can be nerve-wracking at times – I invented a new word today during one interview and never did think of the right one and sometimes you’ll be asked a question you either don’t know or have forgotten the answer to – but on the whole everyone is very nice. It’s probably very different if you’re a politician….!
In addition to the down-the-lines chats today, I also did nearly a full hour at lunchtime today in the main BBC Radio Solent studio with presenter Alex Dyke. That was a much more in-depth chat and Alex had some pretty forthright views about a number of things including the near constant repeats of Only Fools and Horses, but again – all good fun. You can listen here if you want to… (from about 120 minutes in.)
All in all, a pretty usual way to spend a day…