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

Be our guest...

Peter Hanington | 10:16 UK time, Thursday, 20 December 2007

The Today programme logoEvery year it's the same thing. People find out you're working on Today's "guest editor" programmes and the questions start.

This year's crop are particularly illustrious so the questions are a little different. Most years we just get asked: Have you got a home number for Thom / Monica / Zac / Bono?

This year we have a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, a former spy chief, one of Britain's most eminent historians, one of Britain's most successful musicians and this year's listener editors, a bunch of cops from Wales. So the questions are slightly higher rent.

todayguests.jpgFor instance:

• Is it true that Damon Albarn uses complex maths when composing his music?

• Did Sir Martin Evans really have that Nobel-winning Eureka moment while listening to the Pussycat Dolls?

• Has Peter Hennessy written more books than the average Today producer has read?

• Did Stella Rimington kill people?

I'll give you the answers at the end. Please try not to skip ahead.

But despite the fact that they've all got brains that could boil water, this year has been the most fun we've had since the whole thing started four years ago.

Highlights so far? Damon Albarn, the uncrowned table tennis king of the pop world, playing against some of our 2012 Olympic hopefuls.

Sir Martin Evans, fresh from scooping the Nobel Prize, kicking back at a hotel made of ice with the King and Queen of Sweden.

Peter Hennessy proving that if Today falls off air Trident submarine captains assume Britain has been destroyed and so fire their weapons. (And that if BBC Three goes off air they consider it safe to return to port.)

The police team mishearing our request to hit us with a programme teaser by hitting us with a pre-programmed Tazer.

But most exciting of all is Dame Stella Rimington. Here at Today we're used to working with powerful older woman. Many of us have dealt at close quarters with the likes of Sue MacGregor and Anna Ford. Some of us have even kept our composure. But Stella is something else. There's something so, well, secret about her. She's not just hard to get... she's hard to find.

Richard Knight and Daniel Clarke are working with Dame Stella. I overheard one of Daniel's conversations with her. In fact I recorded it. I've seen Spooks. You can't be too careful. It went like this:

"Hello Daniel?"
"It's me"
"I think you know who."
"Oh I get it. Very mysterious. Are you trying to seduce me Mrs Robinson....I mean Rimington?"
"Of course not, and call me Helen. Meet me by the penguin pool at twelve hundred tomorrow." "Cool, shall I carry a copy of the Herald Tribune?"
"If you want"
"Great. And I'll wear a brown trilby and green socks and a pink buttonhole.
"Whatever floats your boat. I know what you look like."
"How come?"
"I know a lot about you. And your family and your friends and your regular visits to the Turkish Baths in Bayswater."
"Wow. You're good."

It's all gone a little better since then and you can hear the result of all the hard work on Boxing Day.

Finally, the answers to those questions we get asked: 1. Yes; 2. Of course not; 3. Probably; and 4. No but she hurt somebody's feelings once.


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.