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Paul Armstrong | 12:03 UK time, Tuesday, 22 August 2006

We've produced a lot of football shows since 7 May, but the return of the Premiership is always welcome.

Much as we enjoyed the adrenaline rush of the World Cup - and love going on the road to cover England and the FA Cup live - league highlights from Television Centre remain the heart and soul of the BBC TV's football coverage.

I first edited MOTD in the 1998-9 season. Back then, the BBC only showed two live games all season (the UEFA and Cup-Winners Cup Final, since you ask) and a Sunday night show was expressly forbidden under the contract.

We also had to pick two main matches in advance, and stick to them regardless.

We could show up to five minutes of a third, but everything else went into a round-up with a voiceover.

And I was an assistant producer, who normally did one of the match edits, nervously acting up. I found myself telling the doyen of sports broadcasters what I thought the running order should be.

Fortunately, Des knew it was my first time, and was gentle with me...

These days, it's Gary Lineker on a Saturday, Adrian Chiles on a Sunday, umpteen cameras everywhere and a commentator and edit for every game.

By the way, before I'm inundated with opinions about our presenters, pundits and commentators, I'd just like to say that I'm not the person who employs them, nor will be I drawn into a debate about their individual merits.

I count myself very lucky to work with such an outstanding presentation and production team. And I wouldn't expect you to slag off your colleagues, either! I will, however, say that Alan Shearer is a fantastic addition to our team, and we're all very glad he chose to join us.

So, what is a programme editor? The terminology of television can be confusing: I'm not a videotape or film editor, nor am I the person who makes the big policy and contractual decisions.

I'm basically the equivalent of the night editor on a newspaper in that I'm left in overall charge of the content of individual programmes.

Or, to put it another way, the director is the rally driver and I'm the navigator passing on instructions while trying to hold the map the right way up.

By definition, this can be seat of the pants stuff at a live game: on a Saturday night, things are a little more pre-structured. We still transmit the show live, though, which gives making the show that extra edge.

On a Saturday afternoon, the presenter, pundits and editor all sit in front of a bank of monitors watching all of the games.

Each pundit keeps a particular eye on a likely lead game, but we all divert our attention to the replays of major incidents from any match.

One 1715 kick-off apart, the editor draws up the order of games at about 1700.

On Saturday, for example, we were considering leading with the Arsenal match had Villa hung on to their lead.

As it is, once Arsenal equalised, Reading's remarkable comeback in their first-ever top-flight game was a clear choice to kick off our season.

Running order established, the presenter then begins to write the script. I may have ideas about the structure, or the occasional line to offer up, but for the most part the words are Gary's own.

In the meantime, the pundits discuss their proposed areas of analysis before they head off to the videotape area to prepare their sequences.

The production co-ordinator (the person you generally hear counting down timings reassuringly on those "behind the scenes" features) then sits down with the editor to try to make sure the programme fits its alloted duration.

As the saying goes, "You can't please all of the people all of the time" - actually I think it was originally "fool" rather than "please". Either way, the number-juggling involved is always contentious.

For the producer who's logged and will edit a game, and the fans of the clubs involved, a match edit duration, as allocated by the programme editor, will sometimes be shorter than they would have liked.

We only have a 79-minute slot to play with, so tight and lively tends to be the name of the game!

We also have to try strike a balance on all fronts. We aim to show at least five minutes of each game, we keep an eye on which teams have featured where in the running order across the season, and we're aware that some viewers love chat and analysis while others want to see more action.

We're never going to please everyone, but in the end we're employed to use our editorial judgement and call it honestly as we see it.

In the old days, the complaint (not least from me as a fan of an "unfashionable" club) was often "we were only on for 30 seconds in the round-up."

Now, in the era of minimum five-minute edits, it tends to be "we were on last again" or "Hansen didn't give us enough credit."

Saturday was particularly tricky to call in that every game had merit, and most featured an iffy refereeing decision or two crying out to be analysed.

Don't get me wrong: we prefer plenty of talking points, but it does make for an interesting juggling act.

In the end, we put the three promoted clubs high up the running order, and allowed for a little more chat than we might later in the season.

At this point, optimism abounds, the table has not started to take shape, and we felt that we should say something about every game.

Anyway, it was good to get one under our belts, and to have a clean show technically. Anything you didn't like was probably my fault!

Our next show is one of the most challenging of the season. Six midweek games on the night, all the same processes and decisions involved, but instead of Saturday's five hours or more from final whistle to transmission, we have less than an hour to get it all ready. Roll on Wednesday!

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