13 replies on “I’m on Watchdog”

  1. I always wondered exactly what those people did back there. Care to explain how you came to walk into the studio?

  2. Gladly.

    I was working late last night. Earlier in the day I’d noticed the Watchdog set on the ground floor of the Media Centre. (Media Centre is a modern building, opposite White City and next to Broadcast Centre. These three buildings form a block, a 5 minute walk away from Television Centre. As a campus, these are collectively known as ‘W12’, after their postcode).

    I’ve been working with the Watchdog team for the past few weeks, helping them with their blog, so I was partly hoping to bump into some of the people I’ve been exchanging emails with recently. I’d heard that Watchdog was going out live, so before going home I walked to Media Centre to see how close I could get. I didn’t know if I’d get turned away at the door, or somewhere in the coridoor, but I figured it was worth a look.

    The Watchdog set is on the ground floor of Media Centre. I got closer than I had expected. Initially I stood as close as I dared to the action, but firmly behind the camera. During the first interview on the sofa, I was probably 6 feet away from the sofa, just behind one of the cameras, and ginning madly. It was all very exciting, especially as it’s broadcast live. The temptation to run around screaming ‘What’s the frequency Kenneth?!’ was strong, but I somehow suppressed it.

    During the taped segments, the atmosphere changed, but was decidedly tense as people moved around, setting up and preparing for the next live segment from the studio.

    After the interview on the sofa, the camera I’d been standing behind moved (very rapidly) to the other end of the studio. All the action was suddenly on the other side of the room. As I was in (at least for a few minutes) no danger of having a camera pointed at me, I got braver and, following at a safe distance behind some crew, ventured further onto the set itself. I kept out of the way, but checked with someone called Zoe (who was very busy, and spent quite a lot of evening running around instructing the people at desks and milling around in the background on what to do and where to be) that I was OK to be watching from where I was standing. She was very friendly, and invited me to join in by taking a seat at a nearby desk (just behind the Watchdog sign: behind the guy in red, on the left of the screenshot above). There was a copy of the running order there, which was very helpful for working out what was happening.

    Then, just before the final segment, Zoe grabbed three of us and asked us to form a cluster behind the desk. SInce we’d been instructed quite carefully about where to stand and which way to face, we were very aware of being on TV. A first, for me.

    I’ve never seen live TV being made before, and was struck by a heightened alertness. It was like walking into an adrenaline rush. I might try to go back next week.

  3. I used to go on Sky News alot when I was younger, slimmer and the internet was a bit “Oooh, weird”. It is compeltely *insane*, is live TV.

    When they ask you questions, it’s almost as if a great yawning black hole opens in front of you, waiting to swallow you up if there’s more thna 1/4 of a second of dead air space. There isn’t though, because something in your brain just makes you talk. Even if it’s a load of cobblers.

    THere’s also a weird thing which is like some sort of emergency fuse-blow mechanism in your brain which does not allow you to swear, regardless of the fact that you are *insanely* stressed out.

    The only way I used to get away with it was by never watching Sky News. That way it didn’t seem real, somehow.

  4. Hold on Roo, are you saying that those earnest looking people in the background are just props? Mere passing flotsam? The impression given is that these are hard working Watchdog researchers, paid for by me, the licence payer. I’m being mislead by the BBC! First Cookie-gate, now this!

    Think I’ll complain to Watchdog. Ah no, wait. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  5. Ralph: my presence was something of an anomaly. I have actually done quite a bit of work with Watchdog recently, so it’s not as artificial as it seems. I shall check, but I believe most of the people seen are actual Watchdog staff. Those other desks (far right of the scene above) do seem to be the actual Watchdog staff desks. (Researchers, etc.) How much they’re there working late, and how much they’re as terrified as I was of the cameras, the live broadcast, and thinking of little other than looking busy for the camera is hard to tell.

    Mark: my contract explicity states that I don’t get paid any extra for appearing on screen. No idea what the situation was for the other people in the room.

  6. Honestly, when I bumped in to you at 7:30, I really wasn’t expecting to get on air. My purpose was to chat with the editor and web producer. That said, now that I’ve tasted live TV, my sinister purposes for next week are pretty obvious. :-)

  7. Thanks for the background, I have to say that I am so jealous! While I have no desire to be on TV, I’d *really* love to watch a live show being broadcast, from both the floor and the gallery. I’ve been backstage at many a theatre production, but you guys have more fun toys ;)

  8. That reminds me- I’ve been meaning to get Watchdog on to the case of reverse charge SMS messages. If you could shuffle it to the top of the pile next time you’re loitering on set, that’d be great!

Comments are closed.