Martha's first programme
In at 5am for Martha's first programme (which you can now listen to here), trying to make sure all would go smoothly. I should have stayed in bed.
Of all the mornings for news to slow to a trickle and interviewees to go awol, they had to pick this one. Martha appeared just before seven, ridiculously cheerful, blissfully unaware of the impending struggle.
What appeared to be the two main stories were decent enough - Des Browne's travails and the decision by Sadr to pull his ministers out of the Iraqi government. Both, however, came with problems.
As I write this, we're still waiting for Des Browne's statement at around 3.30, so we were in one of those frustrating voids on that one. And all Iraqi stories come with main players (in this case Sadr) who won't talk and phone lines that test the patience of even the most devoted of WATO listeners.
As the morning grew older, we hit further problems. You name a reason for not coming on, our potential interviewees found it. Critical board meetings, long train journeys, fact-finding missions to India, appearances in court (representing, I should add). By 1225 we were seven minutes short of a programme, and only a late burst got us there.
Martha seemed to trust absolutely that we'd have a full programme for her to present: this may change.
And as for her presentation… remarkable. From the morning meeting through to the closing headlines, she was as sharp, calm and authoritative as you'd expect and hope, whatever the setbacks and last-minute changes. Most mornings will be far easier than today's. Martha could hardly have been better.