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Behind the scenes at 5 live Breakfast

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Hasit Shah | 13:48 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

ITV's Daybreak launched last month as the network's replacement for GMTV. A lot of money, a lot of publicity, and for us, another strong competitor (with 5 live connections) in terms of early morning news programming.

5 live Breakfast's new editor Scott Solder explains what we're aiming to do:

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Before joining the 5 live Interactive team, I was one of the producers on Breakfast, and I worked there for several years.

We work day and night shifts, setting up items that we think will reflect what people should be hearing in the morning. The night team comes in at 9pm, makes any necessary changes, and oversees the broadcast. There are duty editors for both shifts.

The day team's in by 11am, and meets at midday to discuss ideas. Colleagues from the BBC Business Unit and BBC Sport are also there, and in about an hour, we try and decide what the lead story is (and how we'll cover it). We don't always have a clear idea, but that's ok, because at that stage we're still many hours from going on air.

The duty editor, which was the job I used to do, also gets ideas for other items from everyone else in the room. Eventually, after writing down the better suggestions, and (diplomatically) rejecting what doesn't feel right, it starts to take shape.

The team then spends the day setting up items, while the duty editor keeps up-to-date with developments and assigns tasks. The end of the shift is 9pm, and by then, hopefully there's something resembling 5 live Breakfast in place.

There's a handover to the night team at 9, and they start making changes, talking to people from Today, Breakfast etc, going through the first editions of the papers, and generally making sure we're totally up-to-date.

Occasionally, the night editor might decide to rip up the day team's work. They then spend a night trying to replace items they've rashly decided to drop, while avoiding the wrath of the senior editors who arrive at dawn. But even if it's not so drastic, there are always some changes that will need to be explained.

Making significant alterations overnight can be difficult. You only have a small window of opportunity to make phone calls, and you have to judge how late it is acceptable to ring someone. We've all woken people up unintentionally. In fact, the first few words are pretty much always, "I'm really sorry to call so late, but..." I'm now really good at apologising.

An editor also has to be confident of knowing enough of the details of a story, and have the resources available to get it on air. Not always straightforward in the middle of the night..

Night shifts are the dark side of working in news. Most of us have to do them at some point, and I assume that anyone who works overnight - in any job - has the same dilemmas. What to eat? If you get a break, do you attempt to have a short nap? How patient can you be with your colleagues at 3am? I don't think I ever worked out the best way, if there is one.

The 'interferer' gets in at 4.30am (as does Shelagh). That's a genuine job title, and it refers to one of Scott's Assistant Editors. They come in and, well, interfere. Actually, by then, the night editor needs a fresh point of view, and they're experienced producers who now wear smarter shirts than before.

Nicky gets in at 6, by which time we're on air. Four busy hours later, it's all done, and the whole cycle starts again.

Related links
5 live Breakfast - programme details and iPlayer links
Video - About Nicky & Shelagh


  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting post Hasit. Thanks. And remarkably no LFC references either.

    It reads as if we employ lots of people to bring us the breakfast programme!

    Can you tell us how many and why no-one can muster five minutes in this 24 hour operation to bring us a daily blog post?


  • Comment number 2.

    That shift pattern explains why so much at has been on Livesey is repeated in Breakfast.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Hasit, sorry to go off-topic but I have a question for you and the interactive team.

    How come none of Sports Extra's broadcasts from this weekend have been uploaded to the IPlayer yet?

    I was hoping to listen back to the excellent 5 Live Baseball from Sunday but unlike last week it hasn't been put up yet. Even things that would always be uploaded quite quickly like football and rugby league commentaries aren't uploaded yet.

    Any chance of letting us know if and when these broadcasts will be uploaded? Also, will you be putting the games from the play-offs and World Series on the IPlayer as well?

    Thanks in advance for your reply, keep up the good work on the blog and the website.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am a regular listener to the great 5 Live breakfast show, however, I do wonder why Nicky seems to get all of the trips out of the studio, whilst Shelagh does not? Thanks

  • Comment number 5.

    Is it up to me to say it?
    The rest of us are wondering too.

  • Comment number 6.

    @Walsall_Chris: The rights situation for sports commentaries varies. I'm pleased to say that from this weekend all American sport will be available on demand for seven days for listeners in the UK. In the future if you have questions that don't relate to a blog post please contact us via our Get in Touch page.

    @CG_1: I put your question to Breakfast Editor Scott Solder. He replies: "We always try to give Nicky and Shelagh an equal share of our outside broadcasts. Nicky has covered both the Ryder Cup and the party conferences in the past few weeks - which has been a busy time for him. Shelagh spent four days on the road following the Pope's visit a few weeks ago - but she was there for the whole of 5 live, not just Breakfast, so perhaps you didn't hear all her appearances. Thanks for your comment - and rest assured, Shelagh is kept just as busy as Nicky at all times!"

  • Comment number 7.


    I asked a question in the first post. It wasn't answered meanwhile an off topic question about sports commentaries was answered.

    My question is one I have asked here at least FIVE times and every time it has been passed over.

    I am sure this was just an oversight, as it has been the previously four times.

    Can you tell us how many and why no-one can muster five minutes in this 24 hour operation to bring us a daily blog post?

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 8.

    NickyAACampbell tweets "on Radio Wales now with Jason Mohammed and Andi from Brecon"

    Perhaps next time you could send someone to the Ryder Cup whose abiding memory of four amazing days might actually be something to do with golf.


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