There’s a certain voice you feel you’re supposed to develop as a junior TV news reporter – especially at the BBC. The aim is to deliver the news, without allowing yourself to get in the way of the story.
I’ve just been reminded of my own attempts at this. Thanks to a friend’s recent Googling, it turns out some of the clips still remain on the BBC’s servers (links in a moment).
It feels like a lifetime ago, almost a secret past in what can be the sausage factory of TV news. This was way back in the early noughties. I’d left the BBC Business Unit staff in 1999, having been hired as a reporter/producer, but never allowed to report.
Eventually, when I was turned down over doing some money interviews for local radio, it was finally admitted to me "we won’t put you on air anywhere as you’ve no on-air experience".
If that wasn’t a way of telling someone to leave, I don’t know what is. So I quit, having got a reporter’s job on Sky channel Simply Money TV – a great place to learn my on-air trade when virtually no one was watching – and where I later became the channel’s Money Saving Expert.
That channel went kaput after 18 months. So soon after I started as a freelance, mostly as the MSE but also, amongst other things, as a reporter on BBC1’s Business Breakfast.
There were two reporters on shift making packages for the next day, sharing one cameraman. One got the cameraman for the morning, the other for the afternoon. So sometimes, you’d have just a few hours to work out the story, set up the interviewees, then travel to them (the most time-consuming bit), film and get back.
That’s why one of my pieces involved me, in desperation, making the best of an electrical shop’s front window video camera!
Here are the clips. The video quality isn’t great, but it’s better than my dress sense at the time. What’s most bizarre is to listen to my voice fitting the reporters’ mould. Even if I said the same words now my delivery would be very different – far more relaxed and conversational.
- 28 May 2001 – Investors eye Vodafone results (video clip is top left).
- 4 July 2001 – Household insurance washout (video is top left)
- 4 Jan 2002 – PC prices set to rise (video is top right). Note my "chips may be down" pun – the start of things to come)
- 7 Jan 2002 – AOL Time Warner misses jackpot (video is top right)
PS. On Mrs MSE’s advice, I deleted some of my ‘BBC days’ stories from this post, about the terrible management culture and broken promises. So I won’t mention them.