Cheat sheets and chicken tikkas
Mrs Walker and I are trying to eat a little healthier at the moment. For dinner on Monday, for example, we had grilled fish and stir-fried vegetables! About an hour later, I supplemented the meal with three Weetabix and two fingers of Fudge... epic fail.
In fact, I have failed miserably for the last few days. Our Football Focus trip to Portsmouth didn't help. We ate a fish and chip supper twice in two days, consumed a full English breakfast one morning and downed large amounts of cake before finishing off with a chicken tikka rogan josh and peshwari nan on Saturday night.
The sad news is that fig rolls are off the menu. I have gone 10 days without cracking open a packet. If it goes on any longer, I might need a "figarette" patch!
Other than the food issues, Focus on the road at Portsmouth went down very well. It was great to get three first-rate interviews on the programme... Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso are about as big as they come. Throw in rock band Stereophonics and you have the makings of a quality programme.
The only thing that annoyed me afterwards was that I forgot to mention Wolves against Birmingham when I was talking about the derbies on Sunday. The omission probably aggravated our brethren in the West Midlands area.
Anyway, I met producer Mark Golley in Portsmouth at 1000 on Friday. We were filming the opening to the programme with Carol, on camera, and Mike, the soundman, at the Spinnaker Tower down by the quayside. The very first shot was actually nicked off the BBC programme Coast - our Focus budget doesn't really stretch to helicopters.
My cheat sheet in all its glory
The rest of the Focus warriors - director, editor, production co-ordinators and floor manager - arrived about 2130 and, after grabbing some grub, I went about setting out the cheat sheet. The cheat sheet is something I use whenever Focus is on the road. I try to put everything I am going to do, and say, on the show on a single piece of paper.
I tend not to refer to it too much, but it's great to have as back-up. (Ever since I first started doing exams I have always been able to remember something for about 24 hours if I write it down the night before... very handy when you need to recall the atomic mass of potassium for GCSE Chemistry). The scripts go down the sides and the central area is for the fact column, which has fixtures, tables and a few salient facts to throw in if it all goes horribly wrong. You're right, it is a little odd and obsessive, but it works for me.
The next morning I was up at 0630, so I read through the cheat sheet one last time, had a power shower and read through the morning papers. Departure time was 0900, so at 0830 the editor, Mark Cole, and I went for breakfast to discuss the programme. I can't remember much of what we talked about, but the hash browns were legendary.
We arrived en masse at Fratton Park at 0930 and started watching all the finished pieces in the 'Outside Broadcast' truck just behind the North Stand. At 10, Gollio and I left to film the final part of the opening sequence before heading for the all-important rehearsal.
This is a bit different to a studio rehearsal because we have to make sure that the two cameras can get to where we need them to be, the wires are out of the way, the signal works and we then have enough time to reposition for the next live section back in the stadium. There isn't really any sprinting involved, but a brisk walk is occasionally required.
Mark Lawrenson and Steve Claridge arrived at about 1100. At 1150, the rehearsal finished, giving me about 15 minutes to have a final chat through with the editor, check that Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie and Kevin the kitman were OK to appear on the programme, and nail half a pack of Fruit Pastilles.
Everything went very smoothly during Focus, apart from the final live segment in the laundry room that almost never happened. We had to go down the tunnel to get there, but the security guards had changed and the yellow-jacketed bloke now on duty was having none of it. There was about 30 seconds of frantic negotiation before we were let through. My next step would have been to send in Lawro and Claridge, but thankfully it never got to that!
After the show, we had a few hours to kill before the game kicked off, so we decided to film another behind-the-scenes segment of Football Focus. This one is all about what happens in the 'Outside Broadcast' (OB) truck during the game and how you get the pictures back for Match Of The Day in the evening. I hope you enjoy it.
By the way, you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/danwalkerbbc