piece in yesterday's Guardian in which he claims we've recently started to repeat live discussions, where previously we might have run a TAPE of an earlier version. He is quite simply wrong..." />

BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

No repeats

Zoe Barnes | 10:41 UK time, Friday, 17 August 2007

A striking blonde A-level student ripped open the envelope containing her results, grabbed her best friend and literally leapt around with joy as she saw she had got the grades she needed to read English at university. Then slowly, as the interview continued, her face crumpled as the realisation dawned that she had got an A grade in the wrong subject, and a B in English, which might not be enough to secure her place.

Breakfast logoAs a viewer (and programme editor) I lived the moment with her and sat open-mouthed as she rushed off camera to check it out, leaving our reporter to wrap up the item and hand back.

That was yesterday morning’s edition of BBC Breakfast. A live programme. You can't make it up. And we don't.

So I am wondering about Mark Lawson's source of information for his piece in yesterday's Guardian in which he claims we've recently started to repeat live discussions, where previously we might have run a TAPE of an earlier version.

He is quite simply wrong. We have never run tape repeats of interviews and certainly have never pretended a tape was live. We are not currently obsessed with 'honesty' as he suggests - we have always been obsessed with honesty.

The reason we don’t run tapes is because it looks and feels repeated. Why would we say “here is an interview we did earlier”, when we can ask the guests to stay on, and with a new contributor, discuss the issue again? Something new might emerge, and often does.

Our audience knows they are watching a live show and apart from pre-filmed features and news clips, that is what they get, gaffes and all.

So yes, we repeat things at times on a three and a quarter hour programme, but very different audiences are watching.

As Mark correctly points out, not many people see the show from beginning to end (37 minutes on average at the last count). Sometimes the guest even appears on several BBC platforms consecutively. We think that can offer good value for the licence fee payer, as many different consumers of BBC News benefit from one booking.

If you were watching for longer you might have seen our A-level student interviewed on BBC News 24 later in the morning, when she confirmed that she hadn't got her first choice of university but was hoping she would get her second. As I said, live TV – the same story but it had moved on.

UPDATE 1500: BBC Breakfast presenter Sian Williams has also written a response to Mark Lawson's article here...

    "Mark Lawson's article about 'live repeats' suggested that 'recent scandals' had prompted Breakfast to change the way it conducted discussions. It hasn't.
    "Having presented the programme for more than seven years, I can assure you we have never in my time, pre-recorded a debate to play it out later in the programme. It wouldn't work editorially. Hundreds of viewers e-mail, phone and text us immediately after we discuss an issue on air - comments which influence and inform the discussion later on. More than five million people watch Breakfast every day, we'd be doing them a disservice if we asked for their views and didn't use them.
    "Also, an interviewee will often give a different answer the second time around, especially those who are not 'pundits'. The experience of being interviewed live can be intimidating, they usually feel more comfortable about voicing their opinions in the next interview. I'd be very happy for Mark to visit us at the programme and see how it all works in practice."

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 12:36 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

I watched your piece on the Scottish exam results a few days ago. The result were 'just becoming available', or so your excitable reporter claimed - at something like 07.17, a very odd time, the student who checked online got superb results and didn't seem very suprised about it. So, was that 'live' or rehearsed?

  • 2.
  • At 12:42 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • jamie wrote:

One could be forgiven for thinking it was a tape because the set up is the same every single year.

"A striking blonde A level student..."

*yawn*

  • 3.
  • At 01:21 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

I would personally love to know what these live items cost, and how much they actually add to the story under consideration that couldn't necessarily be achieved using a studio guest. But then I wouldn't really know; I rarely watch the Breakfast show these days other than to occasionally remind myself why I ceased watching it in the first place - there are good, insightful segments, but to enjoy them one must inevitably sit through the inane chit-chat and endless tedium of items about celebrities, 'human interest', fashion, beauty, and dieting / weight loss (usually dressed up as a pseudo-scientific piece about the 'scourge' of obesity). Same old, same old, day in day out; I can almost predict the type of stories that will feature nowadays. If I wanted a televisual equivalent to 'Now' magazine I'd flick over to GMTV, who do trashy and trivial a damn sight better than you.

  • 4.
  • At 05:40 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • DaveH wrote:

Anyone watching the A-level results (A if you write your name clearly) would have thought that about 80% of the candidates were female. This probably represents an increase of about 5% on last year, but a Government spokesman said that claims that the BBC was just sending more male cameramen along were not backed up by the facts, despite the BBC roster showing no female staff among its crew covering the results. The one male interviewed said "Am I bovvered?".

  • 5.
  • At 11:37 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

'A striking blond A-level student', eh? At least you do better than some media outlets in trying to avoid the cliches most of the time.

I have a standing annual bet on whether, come A-level results day, the front page of the Telegraph will have two staggeringly good looking blond teenage girls hugging and/or kissing in delight.

I'm seldom disappointed.

On the one hand I feel slightly aggrieved that the achievements of boys are not being properly recognised.

On the other hand...Phwoar!

  • 6.
  • At 11:38 AM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Paul, Derry wrote:

Why a striking blonde girl? Why do we have to put up with this blatant sexism every results time?

Serving for a flagship broadcasting organisation, BBC editors and journalists are evidently chosen on their proven ability and flair for innovative reporting based on solid foundations. They know that expectations are very high and have to be on their toes from the word 'go'. They simply cannot afford to slip-up.They cannot use old material to fill in space. Objective journalism is the ability to feel the pulse of the nation in a calm, cool and collected way without getting unduly ruffled.So far the BBC has come out smelling of roses.

  • 8.
  • At 02:53 AM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

"A striking blonde A-level student ripped open the envelope containing her results, grabbed her best friend and literally leapt around with joy as she saw she had got the grades she needed to read English at university. Then slowly, as the interview continued, her face crumpled as the realisation dawned that she had got an A grade in the wrong subject, and a B in English, which might not be enough to secure her place."

"As a viewer (and programme editor) I lived the moment with her and sat open-mouthed as she rushed off camera to check it out, leaving our reporter to wrap up the item and hand back."

"That was yesterday morning’s edition of BBC Breakfast. A live programme. You can't make it up. And we don't."

My, my, such an incredible tale, you're right, nobody could make such a story up. Not Shakespeare, not Dickens, not even HG Wells, Jules Verne, or Rod Serling. BBC really tells the most amazing true tales, how lucky we are as BBC's audience to hear these most remarkable sagas. Have you reported this yet to Ripley's Believe it or Not? I'm sure they'll use it...if they believe it.

  • 9.
  • At 11:56 AM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

No response to post 1 so I am assuming that the report was not 'live' despite the determined efforts of the reporter to persuade us otherwise. What happens now?

  • 10.
  • At 02:13 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

So the "news" is A-level results have been released and x% got good grades. As everyone knows that is what is going to happen (as it does every year),why it requires more than 1 minute in the studio is beyond me, and frankly who cares whether it is live or the blonde girl is 25-year-old actress? What difference does it make?

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.