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Inside the 5 live Sport studio

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Mark Williams | 15:30 UK time, Tuesday, 10 May 2011


It's a tense time of year to be a football fan and we share that tension and excitement in the 5 live Sport studio.

On Saturday, as well as more than 30 outside broadcasts (OBs), we had the breaking story of Queens Park Rangers not being deducted points as we went on air, as well as the very sad news overnight of the death of Seve Ballesteros.

The schedule goes out of the window very early on days like these, but generally the main planning for Saturday's 5 live Sport gets underway on a Monday.

We'll already have a good idea of the events we'll cover, but we have to decide on the best commentary match, which is where Mark Pougatch will present the programme from. We also decide which other football and rugby matches we need to send reporters to.

Because of the uncertainty over QPR's promotion, we sent commentators to the matches involving Cardiff, Swansea, Nottingham Forest and Norwich, in case we needed to make a last-minute change.

In the end, the drama of the QPR story, plus the outside chance of Leeds making the play-offs, gave that game the edge for us.

The preparation in the week involves booking live guests, arranging for our reporters across the country to record interviews, and ordering any archive audio. We also have to make sure we understand the relegation and promotion permutations.

This week, there was also the issue of how we accommodate all of our outside broadcasts in the studio. There were: 20 football matches across the Premier League, Football League and SPL; two rugby union fixtures, which decided who would be relegated from the Premiership; a rugby league Challenge Cup match; F1 qualifying from Turkey; horse racing, with the Oaks and Derby trials from Lingfield; and the county cricket.

I left the office on Friday night knowing the FA announcement on QPR could change our plans, but the first issue on Saturday morning was the news about Seve.

Our team on Saturdays is bolstered by three extra back up producers who work on material that needs recording, editing and scripting on the day, while I direct the show on air. One member of the team produced a moving montage of the Spaniard's great moments, along with his colleagues paying tribute.

We were also able to record an interview with his former caddy, Billy Foster, who provided some fantastic stories and terrific insight into what Seve was really like.

This sequence was due to be the first 15 minutes of the show, until news broke from Loftus Road at 11:44 - sixteen minutes before we were on air. We sent our match producer to see if manager Neil Warnock would give us his reaction, and despatched our reporters at the Cardiff and Swansea games to get those clubs' responses.

Warnock appeared alongside Mark Pougatch at 11:55, and couldn't wait around until we went on air, so we very quickly recorded an interview with him, finishing with only a minute to go before Colin Murray ended Fighting Talk and handed over to us.

The first hour of the show also included updates from David Croft, who was at qualifying for the Grand Prix in Turkey. Commentary of this was broadcast in full over on 5 live sports extra, and David had to be ready to do short updates for 5 live, while seamlessly continuing on sports extra. In the studio I have to choose my moment - there's no point in handing over when they're talking to a driver.

At 3, it was over to John Murray at Upton Park as our focus turned to the Premier League and the crucial match between West Ham and Blackburn.

The next two hours are the busiest of my week. In front of me is a panel enabling me to talk to all of the commentators, reporters, producers and summarisers at their relevant OBs. If they want to contact me, they press a button which sounds a bleep and makes a light flash next to their name.

If there's a goal, I tell the reporter to stand by to go on air for their 10 second report. I quickly tell the studio manager (who does an amazing job of mixing the sound throughout the programme) where we're planning to go, and finally tell John Murray in his headphones who he has to hand to. This whole process is usually done in around five seconds, but it's something we repeat a lot throughout the afternoon.

While all of this is going on, the editor is starting to shape Sports Report and writing the headlines to be read over the famous music at 5. This is another unpredictable hour as we listen out for reporters buzzing in with managers waiting to give us their thoughts on their game live into the programme. The back up producers sift through all the recorded interviews, looking for the best bits to be played on air.

This week we set aside ten minutes at 5.30 to reflect further on the life of Seve Ballesteros, and Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter were kind enough to join us live for this.

Finally we get to 6.06 and hand over to Mark Chapman and Robbie Savage. Mark Pougatch records the links for the 5 live Football Daily podcast and we have a quick debrief before getting ready to do it all over again the folowing week.

Every week is different - this Saturday could decide the Premier League and FA Cup winners all in one day. Mark Pougatch will be at Wembley for Manchester City against Stoke, along with Mike Ingham and Alan Green (commentary at 3pm). John Murray and Darren Fletcher will be at Ewood Park to see if Manchester United can get the point they need against Blackburn (commentary at 12.45).

Mark Williams is a senior producer for 5 live Sport

Related links
BBC Sport
Seve Ballesteros



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