Behind the scenes at 5 live Breakfast
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.
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.