Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Olympic Torch OB, Crawley

This morning was quite a challenge - up at 3.15am to get to Crawley to co-present our Olympic Torch Relay coverage from 6am to 10am (the above photo was taken at around 5.30am).

My co-presenter, Neil Pringle, the BBC Sussex breakfast show presenter, started the broadcast in Brighton outside the Pavilion. He waved the torch off, I saw it arrive.

We also had a reporter on the vehicle which follows the torch bearers (and carries the flame between towns), a reporter on the ground in Crawley and several production staff trying to keep things flowing at Brighton, Guildford and, of course, in Crawley itself.

Very few OBs (outside broadcasts) have both presenters out (unless it's a whopping set piece like the Open golf on 5live), and it was a production challenge to get it right. But we stayed on air, and I hope we did it with some panache.

My personal challenge was to avoid the linguistic banalities which seem to infect so much live broadcasting nowadays. If I were a news editor I would ban my presenters and reporters from saying the following words forthwith:


I failed. I did issue one "excited", in four hours on air.

By trying to remove those words from my vocabulary for the duration of the broadcast, I was forced to think about what I was saying and what I wanted to say. It made me consider the phrasing of my sentences. I found I was more accurate, original, and hopefully, entertaining in my descriptions of what was going on around me.

Listen to the masters - the Clare Baldings and John Inverdales of this world. When they do OBs - their pickups, funnies, descriptions, interviews and eye for detail sets them apart from middling hacks. It takes effort, research, forethought and presence of mind to sound that natural and relaxed, but it is possible. And when you take the time to bother, surprisingly easy.

If you get caught in the moment and you've got nothing to say other than the worn out cliches listed above, you're not broadcasting, you're emoting.



  1. Oh no Nick. You've fallen into a another journalistic pit: "the Clare Baldings and John Inverdales of this world". You mean Clare Balding and John Inverdale. Unless there are multiples. Almost as bad as the incredibly common "people like Clare Balding" when what is meant is "people such as Clare Balding" unless we are talking about another woman, who is not Clare Balding, but is remarkably similar.

  2. Excellent article Nick, and it was a very good broadcast this morning (the parts I listened too). Talking of Clare Balding, her commentary at Wimbledon recently on 5live was truly awful (random comment I admit, but it was that bad).