A while back, early September it was, I received an out-of-the-blue call from Lizz at the BBC. She wanted to know if I’d be willing to do an interview about travel. Being a complete tart about publicity I agreed, then when I learned more, I wondered what I’d let myself in for. The programme was to go out on national TV and was one I’d hardly registered, Rip-off Britain
. My problem with the concept was that I could see that I’d be asked about shopping and bargains, which are subjects that really, really don’t float my boat. I loathe shopping and don’t care about gizmos, gadgets and the latest trendy products.
‘No problem,’ Lizz, the lovely smiley producer said. ‘We can work to your strengths and expertise.’
So we spent most of a day deciding what issues could usefully be highlighted so that holiday-makers could travel prepared without spending a lot of money.
The process of filming was much more challenging than I imagined. We agreed on a few pithy sentences which I was to say to camera. I stumbled, slurred, messed up, forgot and brain-froze. I’d speak my lines several times almost flawlessly, then when asked to say them again, had not a clue what I’d just said. Not only did I find it hard to be clear and fluent but once I’d got it right once, the cameraman needed a redo in close up and I often had to do another run at it from a different angle, or only focussing on my hands or face or the tablets I was talking about. We were at it - so to speak - for six whole hours. I began to see how it takes years to make a full-length film.
Yesterday I got another call from the BBC. This time it was Helen. There was a problem. There was too much branding. I’d shown expensive packets and cheap packets of various travel essentials but BBC policy is to avoid identifiable brands of any commercial product. Would I be willing to do a bit more filming – tomorrow?
Some of the first filming session was useable but most of the other sections including the ones where I needed to speak had to be reshot. Could I wear the same clothes?
How was I expected to remember two months on?
Fortunately Helen was able to send a still from the first session – to remind me which of my many white shirts I’d worn, and which "work" skirt.
So Helen and Nathan drove all the way from Manchester to film me again at the surgery in Cambridge. I still stammered and slurred and forgot and froze and multiply messed up but we nailed it in just over a couple of hours. The finished product will probably only be less than five minute of air time but I can’t wait to see what the whole thing looks like. I had to wait though. It wasn’t due to be televised until January.
In the meantime I saw the fine film Sunset Song
and was interested to learn that is was shot in very few takes – often as little as five. I felt very insightful having been in front of a camera, and was even quite encouraged as most of my attempts at speaking to camera were done in about the same number of takes.
The programme went out on BBC ONE, gets repeated from time to time and can be viewed on youtube here Saving money