Oliver, BBC Insight

Oliver, BBC Insight


Read all about Oliver's visit to the BBC.

I've never been one for early mornings but on Thursday the 20 June I was actually relishing the opportunity to drag myself out of my poorly chosen hotel room despite my 5 o’clock alarm.

After 6 months of planning and back and forth email's between presenters and producers I finally got the chance to go to Manchester and gain valuable work experience at the BBC, one of the reasons I was able to obtain my first choice University despite the lower predicted grades, because of my clear determination to be involved in the media.


Upon arriving at reception and picking up my pass, Tom, a runner for BBC Breakfast, fetched me for a quick tour of the building. He started his job by simply asking if there was anything he could do during the first week of opening the new Television Centre, which goes to show, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.


Feeling way more important than what I actually was, Steph McGovern, BBC Breakfast and Radio 5Live’s business correspondent greeted me looking dazed and stressed after having to produce a story within 20 minutes of it breaking to be presented on live TV.


Whilst she ran around the building knocking a presentable piece of television together, I was ushered into a small, dark room with floor to ceiling TV screens and many a row of computers. As it was 5.30 in the morning it took me a while to notice this was the gallery, the room where the programmes are stitched together, produced and directed.

With several live links between the studio and the gallery, remote controls for all the cameras and graphics and video clips lined up waiting to be played everything seemed hectic, yet coordinated, with a team of around 20 all having their own specific role, even one solely for the autocue.


Steph, having finished her piece to camera, had organised for me to sit in the studio, as presenters Louise Minchin and Charlie Stayt delivered a less than exciting story about dolphins. With a live link to Newquay they had time to chat with me regarding my plans for September, seamlessly going between a piece to camera to joking about Louise’s University experiences.


After the sole camera operator in the studio, whilst managing six cameras, showed me how to set up the panning shots and even gave me the chance to line several up, live to seven million viewers (no pressure) I was told through my earpiece that I was wanted outside. It’s pretty surreal, totally forgetting where you are and despite their relaxed attitude, the presenters are live to such a huge audience.


As the programme came to a close the headline guests, The Proclaimers, had just arrived in the building and guess whose job it was to fetch them from the green room? Armed with my clipboard and access all areas pass I bluffed my way through the building, pretending to be of importance. Standing at the doorway, grinning like a Cheshire cat, I attempted to make small talk about croissants, which quite pathetically falls into my ‘worst moments’ category. They did, to be fair, offer me a pain au chocolat. Ah, showbiz.


Despite the painful reminder I had not had breakfast we arrive outside the studio, with no pastry-related mishaps, which surely counts as a success.


With the program at a close, Steph ensures I get in on a less glamorous side of the industry, as she lined up the opportunity to get me involved in a few meetings. With the thought of my now warm and squashed all-day breakfast sandwich sitting in the back of my mind, I grasp the opportunity to be included with both hands and stand awkwardly at the back of the office as the producer slams guests, the make-up artists, the fact his coffee was cold and basically sacks the graphic designers as they spelt ‘Britain’ wrong. This was apparently a good show and Steph re-assures me that he’s only like that because his shift started at 9 o’clock Wednesday evening, which is pretty understandable.


I then get invited into a planning meeting, purely for the business side of the BBC. Both Radio 5Live and Breakfast producers are there as they plan for just a few days in advance, which is no surprise as the field is so dynamic and changes so quickly.


This then seems to morph into a planning meeting for Friday morning’s show, as Steph disappears for the last of the free breakfast, leaving me and 11 producers to discuss the topics for tomorrow. I even become slightly helpful by offering my thoughts on the new education compulsory leaving age being raised to 17, which even though glazed over, it certainly showed I had ideas and wanted to get stuck in, so positive none the less.


Finally, as my heart flutters at the thought of paying £6 extra if I miss my pre-booked train, Steph sits with me and basically takes me through what happens next, what to do, what to look out for and how to keep up the pace in order to come back in four years time as a fully paid intern.


I can’t wait until September when this can become more than a hobby, where I can earn a degree and get paid for doing something that I enjoy.