Stress in the workplace
Earlier this week the BBC in-house mag e-mailed me to see if we could help with an item they’re doing about stress in the workplace.
I couldn’t think of much to say. Obviously Newsnight has its moments, but generally it’s not a particularly stressy environment – not like air traffic control or A&E or 24-hour news. And then Wednesday happened.
We had a much sought-after interview with the Monarch Two, the two Asian lads from Manchester thrown off a holiday flight for freaking out the passengers. The Daily Mirror got the scoop and for some reason offered the only TV interviews to ITV News and Newsnight.
So there was quite a lot riding on it. When at 8.30pm – two hours before we go on air – our producer called from Manchester to say that not a single frame of the interview they’d recorded was usable because of a tape fault, our motormouth programme editor Jasmin simply responded “I don’t know what to say”, and my long dormant IBS started to play up.
Incredibly, we managed to persuade the boys to re-do the interview and with superhuman assistance from the BBC’s Northern bureau got a satellite truck to their hotel to do an as-live interview just in time for the programme at 10.30. I bet no viewer spotted our close shave with televisual death, but yes that was stressful.
I’m writing this in Edinburgh, where I’m undergoing a different type of stress. Months ago I agreed – who knows why – to take part in a special TV Festival edition of Stars in their Eyes. Obviously the protocols of the show forbid me from saying who I’m going to be, but the process is not without anxiety.
On holiday earlier in the summer - a particularly stress-free time – I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, and his theory goes that when people are put in situations of intense stress they become momentarily autistic. That, he reckons, explains why policemen occasionally shoot innocent people.
Not sure about autistic, but clumsy certainly. It’s apparently to do with the blood rushing to your core and thus leaving your fingers. So when, in rehearsal, the host Vernon Kay declared – hypothetically – that I had won the event, my victory salute caught him sharply in the groin.
These are the stresses we have to endure.