Getting political about council tax

I’m just going off to record the voice over for this evening’s Tonight (ITV1 8pm) that I’m presenting. It’s called Council Tax cover up, and it’s a slight (though not huge) departure for me. This time last year I did my Council Tax Cashback programme, revealing my ten minute check ‘n’ challenge system to see if you’re in the right band (see the Council Tax Rebanding article).

That was pure MoneySaving; all about how to get a backdated payout of £1,000s. This evening’s programme, while incorporating much of that and following it up, also focuses on an accusation that the Government knew 400,000 were paying too much and did nothing about it.

An alleyway I wouldn’t normally venture in

This is a political alleyway I wouldn’t normally venture in, but quite an exciting departure. The problem with it of course, is ensuring it’s accurate, and getting the tone right. My whole working life (and I’m not sure I need the ‘working’ in that phrase) is dedicated towards MoneySaving. Doing programmes is the easy bit; I’ll have been researching and working with my team on a subject for months, so all it takes is ‘tellyification’.

Yet for the political elements here, it leaves me reliant on the talented Tonight editorial team; the political work on the programme is theirs; and in many ways during those sections it’s their words coming out of my mouth. This isn’t a rarity; it’s actually the standard modus operandi for most current affairs programmes; the presenter is the mouthpiece of the collective production team. I’m only not used to it since in my hybrid presenter/expert role, by definition I break that mould.

The producer and I know each other from Uni

The producer of this programme, Alex and I know each other from outside professional life. We studied our Postgrad in Broadcast Journalism together at Cardiff University, yet it’s the first time I’ve worked with him and as he lives in Manchester I haven’t seen him for many years. Way back when I always thought he’d be a star reporter, but he now prefers life behind the camera.

In a way I was a little apprehensive about this at first; the dynamic of being produced by a student peer is a strange one… I tend to be, shall we say ‘quite precious’ about my words and how I put the message across when I’m talking MoneySaving. Yet actually, almost instantly it was easy, we got on well and it’s been fun.

Whether that translates to good telly and a good story though, you’re going to have to tell me. I’ve not seen it yet; until voice over I don’t get to see the whole thing edited together in one piece (it takes five days in the edit suite to piece the whole thing into one).

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