Being at the Beeb. Part Three

A short testimony of working inside the BBC

One day I shall arise from an interview chair and they shall knight me- Sir HannARGH, BBC employee! They shall hand me a copy of the BBC guidelines and make me swear an oath to PUBLIC DUTY.

“Go forth- do good unto the world- serve your nation and ride the BBC horse of impeccability up the steep terrain of knowledge!”

And all will be good in the world. Naturally I will wear a cape.
Everyone at the BBC wears capes. Unless they’re floor-managing, because well, then it would just get in the way. 


On the road

It’s something AM (pretty sure the morning is always one big blur), I’m sat in the passenger seat of a car that’s zooming down a country lane, I have my eyes shut tight and I am clinging on FOR MY LIFE.

What’s nice about being in news is that everyone I meet is a chatterbox, and the reporter who is driving the vehicle into which I am digging my fingernails is no exception. Her name is Cathy and she likes to natter. My kind of person really, so I natter back. And all is good and I’m excited to be out on a story.

Then we hit the country lanes and I hope to God that I don’t meet my breakfast again.

Cathy tells me that she prefers being “out on the road”, hunting down stories, being out and about and interviewing. She tells me a tale of covering a powercut in a village. That only when they were back in the office and looking through the footage did she realise that during the interview the light-bulb above the interviewee’s head had flickered back on. Oh dear. I decided I liked Cathy.

Our cameraman (who we shall call Bob) is trundling along behind us in his white van. We’re all on the road to the beautiful Nunnington Hall which is tucked away in the heart of Yorkshire.  WHY say you?

WELL, this very hip and happening band, I am told, have set up a gallery displaying their art work.



Apparently I am not hip and happening enough to know who they- *googles* OH WAIT, THEM. Yes. Right.

Of course I know who they are Cathy!….. (I’m not about to be upstaged in my hip and happeningness here folks.)

I almost feel like kissing the sweet gravelly ground once we arrive. Breakfast has thankfully not returned.

Nunnington Hall is a BEAUT. No seriously. It’s part of the National Trust and on this summer day its gardens were in full bloom and from a neighbouring courtyard drifted the tangy, tempting smell of tomato soup.

Heaven. So I’ll just sit here in a day dream and….

NEED TO BE FITTER. Equipment does not carry itself up three (four?) flights of stairs.

*splutters around* *grabs inhaler* I’m good. *wheezes*

At the top of the house is an attic. And in that attic perched a neat and smiley man named Simon who shook my hand and showed us around. Asking the Guillemots to create ‘art’ to form the “Sometimes I Remember Wrong” exhibition was his idea. If you don’t ask you don’t get, Simon puts it simply.

He dashes off. So far we’re the only news crew here, but the photographers are about to arrive. Joy. Our editor will love that. Flashes everywhere. Perhaps there’s a heavy object which could be spared in the persuit of footage untainted by a photographer’s flash. Ah, well that’s a pretty vase, I’m sure no one will mind if I-

“Oh HELLO- I’m Hannah. This is Cathy- and er, our cameraman is uhh…. somewhere?”

*shakes hand*

I’m greeted by a bloke with cool hair, a grin and an indie dress sense.

Guillemots comprises of singer Fyfe Dangerfield, lead guitarist MC Lord Magrão, bassist Aristazabel Hawkes and drummer Greig Stewart.

FYFE DANGERFIELD. WHAT A NAME. Sounds like a Dangermouse character. Excellent. No, Hannah- don’t tell him that.

Just keep quiet- don’t say it.

One by one we interview the band members. I get to fiddle with clip mics and try not to burn my elbow on hot lighting gels. Each of their series of art works is drastically different from the others’.

MC Lord Magrão (who has a fond shared love for Lego) has a video installation (which bamboozalls my eyes) and some dreamy photographs printed large and framed on the walls. The photos are pretty. I approve.

The stunning (I know I shouldn’t have to comment on her prettiness JUST because she is a woman but she really is) Aristazabel has her journal pages blown up and printed- on them snatches of poetry aligned next to sketches of women and hands and that sort of thing.

The Scottish Greig has opted for something a little more interesting. Even if you turn your head sideways, SQUINT, or scratch your head it still looks like bog roll glued on cardboard.

Oh right- it is. Andrex yeah? Only quality stuff for the sake of art.

Fyfe’s is more interesting to me. MOCK ALL YOU WANT, but some of us are former art students and his scribblings remind me of the CoBrA  art group.

Photo nicked from the Yorkshire Post of Fyfe’s drawings

The band members don’t take their art very seriously. I get the feeling they agreed to Simon’s request as something fun to do and not as an exploration into the depths of their souls.

Bob sets up painstakingly beautiful shots of the various bits of art. Lighting included. They’ll be cut down to approx 3 seconds each- but each one has to be lit perfectly. Interviews done and dusted, in my head Cathy should be sat back in the bay window smoking a cigarette examining her nails whilst I potter about outside among the flowers.


Cathy sneaks towards the soup

ALAS this is news, no rest for the wicked.

Dream shattered.

Cathy probably doesn’t smoke anyway.

Instead she’s hunched over a trusty reporter’s notepad muttering over what will be her cue and voice piece for the report. Fiddling duties completed I’m tempted to go and frolick out in the gardens but instead I do the same as Cathy.

We come up with completely different things. Hers is broadcastable. Mine? Well….


The Guillemots are well known for breaking the boundaries- one of their tracks features a type writer played as a musical instrument. They’re playing here on the Lily Allen show [plays library pictures of Lily Allen show] all a far cry from the stately environment of Nunnington Hall. What’s brought them here is art. All the band members have a creative bout beyond their music and you can see it on show in their exhibition… 


The Guillemots. The rock-pop indie band best known for their smash hits have come to Yorkshire with a rather different agenda. The picturesque Nunnington Hall is putting their talents on display- but not as you might expect. 


If you know about news  then you’d be right in thinking mine is more a cue to be read out by the presenters in the studio. Cathy’s writing to the pictures she has available.


BREAKING STORY IT WAS NOT. But after scoffing that tasty smelling soup on expenses (well not expenses for me) we headed back .  I got free tea, to meet famous people who were dead nice and look at pretty greenery. Happy days.

I reckon I managed to turn my arms into GUNS that day- simply by hoisting the camera around a little.

(I kid. I am weak and rather flimsy compared to supercameraman).



p.s. watch out for the next one in the BBC series. Title undecided.


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