Monday 5 April 2010, 11:00
Imagine if you will a swan. Now think of the legs pumping away under the surface. Welcome back stage to BBC Radio's Election Night Special.
We know the nation has never been less in love with those who represent us, so the looming General Election promises to be both brutal and dramatic.
And what you see here is the work that's already underway to make sure that drama is captured on BBC Radio in hours, possibly days, after the polls close.
It is the technical stage on which will play out a string of successes, failures, shocks and surprises. If you'll excuse the military metaphor, it is our bunker through which we hope to deliver the results from around one hundred outside broadcasts.
A challenge in itself, made even more challenging when at times the country's Returning Officers are making declarations at the rate of more than one hundred an hour. Nor is the operation confined just to London. We have similar projects underway in Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast to ensure that you, the listener, gets to hear from the most significant players and most telling results no matter where or when that might be.
It's like the deck of the Starship Enterprise. Our mission to boldly go to that key individual who stands up in front of a tired and sometimes emotional crowd and says "I being the returning officer for Trumpton South..."
Glamorous it is not. The showbusiness end is upstairs where, on the night, you'll find Jim Naughtie, Carolyn Quinn and our election number cruncher, Phil Cowley. Phil makes sense of of the numbers, Carolyn makes clear the state of the parties and Jim invariably makes a complete mess of whatever is left around him. They, like us, can't wait for it all to start.
The benches, we think, came from the second series of the Apprentice. The rug looks pure IKEA.
Welcome to what has been alternatively dubbed our 'second home' or 'Martha's Vineyard'. I'll explain. As part of the Election Bunker, we've an annex that'll swing into action once the General Election has been called. As you may have read elsewhere, part of the schedule will change to reflect all the news from the election campaign.
This includes the World At One which will last an hour during the official campaign. As part of these longer programmes, listeners will get the opportunity to question the party leaders. Martha Kearney is, of course, your lunchtime host. She will use part of the programme to host a broader political discussion on what TV-types call 'the soft sofa'. And with so many MP's standing down this year, we hope these red benches will provide a suitable perch for much lively debate.
They might also double as place for those, who in the long hours ahead, might need a lie down.
Rupert Allman is editor of BBC Radio's election coveragePictures of the bunker on Flickr.
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