Friday 7 May 2010, 21:09
Editor's note: listen to the 15-minute montage of Radio 4's election night coverage below - it's a real rollercoaster - and it was delivered minutes after the programme went off-air. I asked Hugh Levinson, who made the montage with colleague Tom Brignell, to tell us how they did it - SB.
Our mission: To boil down the election night's programming on Radio 4 into a single snappy podcast with all the highlights, ready for download the next morning. Simples!
Except for the fact that the studio we were using in the Radio Current Affairs department isn't really equipped for this task. A massive engineering feat by colleagues Jonathan Glover and Masood Ilyas got it into working order. I had perhaps foolishly agreed to stay up all night to make the podcast, as had studio manager Tom Brignell.
We had a foolproof plan to get through the wee small hours. We'd take it easy during the day on Thursday, roll up just before the start of the programme at 10 p.m., relaxed and ready to go. Somehow it didn't work out that way. Both of us worked a full day before we even got into the studio. However, as seasoned radio professionals, we'd ensured we were supplied with the appropriate resources. Namely a large bag of chocolate caramel shortcake and enough coffee to give Rip Van Winkle palpitations.
Then the fun began. I sat in one room, listening to the coverage from Jim Naughtie and Carolyn Quinn. I frantically scribbled notes - 50 pages by the time 6 a.m. rolled round - and marked up sections for Tom to cut. The only problem with this brilliant plan was my handwriting, which is apparently illegible to mere mortals like Tom. Somehow, he managed.
I was listening out for the magic moments: the breathless atmosphere of the counts at key marginals: the tearstained interviews with failed candidates: and of course the bit where Jim Naughtie talked about a horse getting into a polling booth. Around 3 a.m. I started to flag and was close to hallucinating, but perhaps that was just the bright lights of the set on the TV election special.
Some dramatic results and a spellbindingly unusual interview with Nick Griffin helped pull me through towards dawn. As 6 a.m. rolled round, Tom and I compressed the 8 hours down to a super-snappy 15 minutes. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun.
Hugh Levinson is an editor in BBC Radio Current Affairs
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Friday 7 May 2010, 17:05
Sunday 9 May 2010, 20:25