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Rip it up, start again

Richard Jackson | 11:45 UK time, Thursday, 10 August 2006

This morning's programme was an example of when the previous 24 hours' work, leading up to 0600, is ripped up and thrown out of the window.

Radio Five Live logoJust before we went on air, we learned about a security operation which, we're now told, prevented "mass murder on an unimaginable scale".

Our planned programme was junked and we were quickly into rolling news mode. There were two key elements to the story; the operation by the police and MI5 to arrest people thought to be planning attacks on aircraft, and the chaos caused to air travellers throughout the UK by heightened security.

Reporters like Anna Lee on Teeside, Ross Hawkins in London and James Shaw in Glasgow were woken by dawn phone calls scrambling them to get to their nearest airport. Others like Stephen Chittenden rang in - he was scheduled for a relaxing day off - instead he dashed off to Stansted Airport to see what was happening there.

But our reporting effort wasn't restricted to BBC people. As soon as we went on air we asked our audience where they were and if they could help us paint a picture of what was going on around the country.

One of the first responses wasn't all that encouraging. "Is it really 2 much 2 ask u 2 do the journalistic work rather than rely on the public to text you on every major breaking story?".

Undeterred, during the course of the first hour of the programme we heard from Kevin at Gatwick, Simon in Jersey, Michael at Heathrow and Jimmy in Edinburgh as we sought to reflect the scenes of confusion and delay at various airports. Other texters appeared throughout the programme as the scale of the chaos became clear.

We also heard from Fiona Bruce who was listening to Five Live on her way to the airport and rang in with her own tale of queues and crowds.

Plenty of other people gave us information about what was going on in their locality - and lots of people texted in questions they wanted answering. Some were downright impossible for us to help with - at 0611 someone asked, "I am flylng tomorrow - was wondering if the weight limit will be increased to take account of the five kilos that normally go in the cabin".

By the end of the programme, Easyjet and British Airways had come on to help us answer those questions. Others wanted to know what was happening with Eurostar services or whether their relatives flying in from other parts of the world were likely to arrive on time.

Finally, it's on days like these that you learn about who might be listening to the programme. When sports presenter Juliette Ferrington arrived at Manchester City for a scheduled news conference, she was greeted by Stuart Pearce. When she confessed she'd been listening to music instead of the news, he told her she really should be listening to Five Live - it's very informative.


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