In which I go to BBC Radio Sheffield – eat cake – and watch fireworks
“Hello, BBC Radio Sheffield?”
“Hello, it’s Elvis, uh huh uh huh.”
“Hi Elvis, where are you calling from?”
“Graceland baby, Graceland. Nah, I’m just kidding, I’m cutting bushes in Chapeltown. It’s bloody freezing isn’t it?”
It was my first week at the BBC and so far, I was having a blast. I had written a few dozen scripts, done enough editing to put the fear of vox pops in me for life and spent the afternoons shadowing Rav, one of the producers. This mainly consisted of writing quizzes, answering the phones to some of the more colourful South Yorkshire public and comparing dance moves through the glass at Paulette the presenter.
I spent Thursday at Doncaster Racecourse for Ladies’ Day for a live outside broadcast. I was deliriously excited and was feeling slightly more important than was necessary due to the huge BBC emblazoned clipboard I was clutching and the fact that every now and then, Paulette would give me her microphone to hold.
Me and Paulette looking snazzy for Ladies’ Day
The day passed in a blur of drunk ladies in posh dresses, electric horse racing and a lot of running around. It was a little bit magic.
The second week, I was told I’d be shadowing Andy, a reporter. “He’s an absolute pro,” Dan the Breakfast editor told me. “He’ll show you how real journalists work.”
At 5:45 am, I arrived bleary eyed at the station for the morning shift and was desperately ringing the bell to be let in when a man with a bike and high vis jacket stopped next to me and said, “Are you okay? Are you here for an interview?”
“No, I’m here for the morning shift. I’m supposed to be shadowing Andy but nobody seems to be on the desk yet.”
He grinned. “I’m Andy. I’ll be through in a min.” And he buzzed me in.
We spent the day driving around Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham in a BBC van, complete with giant rotating satellite on the roof. It was as close to being on the Enterprise as I was ever going to get.
We spent an afternoon on the set of the new TV show Still Open All Hours. I met Nina Wadia and James Baxter who were utterly charming and more than happy to let a thrilled twenty-year-old girl watch them rehearse a scene.
“Andy, look!” I’d just spotted an oddly familiar grey haired man disappearing into a trailer. It was none other than Sir David Jason.
Despite hanging around for a while, fiddling with our headsets and looking shifty, we didn’t manage to meet David, but we did go on set to the famous Arkwright shop and watched a scene being filmed.
On set. The real deal
“Am I smiling too much? I feel like I’m smiling too much.”
“In all honesty, I think I’m more excited than you.”
One of the producers appeared next to us and grinned. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Everyone’s thrilled to be here. Just don’t fall over the cat food.”
That night, I rang home to tell my parents about my adventures.
“Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time baby,” my mum said. “We’ve just been shopping at the mall and I found a great pair of boots in the sale. Maria keeps trying to steal them.”
I head some giggling, then Mum shouting, “Take my boots off your feet young lady or I’ll hit you with my Filofax!
“Anyway,” she continued. “When do you start at the uni radio…” Her voice petered out. “Oh David, the fire’s going out! David, where are you?”
I could hear my dad’s irritated reply: “Alright, alright, I’m doing it.”
Then my mum gave an sudden, stricken cry: “Oh David, you’ve gotten banana on the poker!”
“Answer these questions on Sheffield as fast as you can… ready, set, GO! Which Sheffield band had the hits ‘Common People’ and ‘Sorted for E’s and Wizz?”
“Correct! What was Sheffield’s biggest export during the 19th century?”
“Correct. How many hills is Sheffield built on?”
“Um um… forty-three?”
“No Joe, no!”
Jamie laughed. “The correct answer is seven. Stay tuned to Forge Radio, we’ll be back for the rest of the quiz after Taylor Swift with ‘Shake It Off.” He turned the mics off.
“Joe!” I said. “I knew the answer to that!”
Joe shrugged. “To be fair, Sheffield definitely has more than seven hills.”
I was absolutely loving Forge Radio. I couldn’t talk about how much I loved everyone on the committee without getting all bleary eyed like I was watching a John Lewis Christmas advert.
We all spent Bonfire Night on the Bole Hills, sitting on the spider’s web in the play park, watching the fireworks and talking about life, Lord of the Rings and seeing how fast we could get the spin seesaw to go without decapitating someone. It was grand.
The real struggle, as always, was trying to juggle coursework, Forge and having time to watch ‘Say Yes To the Dress’ with Alison and write inspirational post-its to stick in David’s room, such as ‘A house without cake is a house without love’ and ‘Make us cake you muppet’.
But that’s what makes it all the more fun. Amiright?