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It's off-screen hard labour that brings on-screen results

Chris Jackson | 15:15 UK time, Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The powers-that-be have scheduled Inside Out for a return in October of this year.

It can be difficult to straddle our off-air periods if the break is more than a few months.

If we start filming something when, say, springtime blooms are clearly in the background it doesn't look right on screen in autumn when it's blowing a hoolie outside and all the leaves are off the trees. We are a current affairs series after all.


Tulips look great in spring but are way out of place in autumn

So how, I hear you ask, do you fill your downtime? Well, the upside of a longish break is that we can get some serious investigations off the ground.

Ferreting around to unearth the truth can often be a long laborious process.

Colleagues can spend ages ploughing through financial accounts, convincing reluctant key witnesses to confide in us, working out how best to get a complicated story onto the screens.

It all takes time, but original journalism isn't a quick and easy job.

For obvious reasons I can't divulge what we're working on at the moment - but unlike the frenzy of when we are putting out a programme each week, there is an air of calm.

Working in current affairs is like doing a marathon with a sprint finish. No-one sees you for most of the race. They assume you've only been running since just before you rounded the last bend.

Like any other hacks we work best to a tight deadline and with the finishing line nowhere near in sight we allow ourselves a slower pace.

The boss, ever mindful of the impending next series and how we are going to get enough stories in the can, gives us gentle prods to get moving. The closer to autumn we get, the firmer the prods will become.

We share an office with the Politics Show team whose workload shadows the timetable of parliament. Downstairs our radio colleagues at BBC Newcastle have a never-ending stream of hourly deadlines - so we all have a different journalistic rhythm.

I still feel like a teacher justifying the long summer hols. Perhaps I need the same's all about preparation for next term. We better do our homework now or else we'll all be in trouble come exam time!


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