BBC BLOGS - The Editors

Nearly One BBC

Mark Wray | 14:56 UK time, Thursday, 20 July 2006

It's always great to get a scoop - and even nicer to get two for the price of one.

Radio Five Live logoSo, last week, when Anita Anand managed to convince Sir Gulam Noon to respond to the BBC's business editor's exclusive (about the curry tycoon having been told by Lord Levy not to reveal his £250k loan to the Labour Party), I was pretty chuffed.

Using her own contacts and some good old-fashioned persuasion Anita encouraged a pretty reluctant Noon to put his side of the story (hear the interview here). He refused to implicate his Lordship directly but did go as far as is decent for a Knight of the Realm in venting his not inconsiderable displeasure with the whole farrago.

Sir Gulam NoonWe're not great at blowing our own trumpets on these occasions. But I did alert the Press Association newsdesk, other BBC programmes and the BBC press office.

The world and his dog started chasing Sir Gulam to see if he would throw them a bone too but he'd said his piece. So Anita's was the only interview they had to go on and there was great pick up in the papers the next day. Some mentioning Anita and her programme, others mentioning Five Live, some just the BBC and others, well, giving no credit at all (it's annoying when that happens but which of us can hold our hands up and say we haven't used others' storylines without a proper plug?).

Anita AnandThe icing on the top of the Levy/Noon cake was hearing Sarah Montague introduce Anita's interview, in full, on the following morning's Today programme. At the end of the interview she gave Anita another name-check.

There was a time, not too long ago, when internal rivalries meant that if a BBC programme used material from other BBC outlets, an interview like this would have been filleted for the best clips, cutting out the 'rival' talent. And on those rare occasions when a credit was given it would have been barely audible as it was spat out through the presenter's gritted teeth.

We're not quite One BBC yet, but we are getting there.

Life and death

Mark Wray | 12:44 UK time, Thursday, 15 June 2006

Five Live is The World Cup Station: 'Every game live'. But when we chew over the remains of the day, after dark, there's plenty of room for news as well as footy. In fact with action in Germany dominating most of the daytime and early evening schedule this month it's all the more important for the Anita Anand and Stephen Nolan programmes to talk about the day's main news stories and to give listeners an opportunity to share their views with us and each other.

Radio Five Live logoThe extent to which some listeners are prepared to bare their soul in doing this never ceases to amaze me.

Stephen Nolan, whose Friday, Saturday and Sunday night shows are now broadcast from Manchester (more of this in a future blog posting) has a special knack of getting callers to share the most intimate experiences with him… and several hundred thousand other listeners. It's one of the reasons he's amassed a record-breaking haul of Sony awards.

Last weekend the Association of Chief Police Officers warned that the World Cup could trigger an upsurge in domestic violence and Stephen asked listeners if they agreed with that assessment.

Among the callers was Paul in Luton, who confessed to having beaten his wife. He'd phoned in risking an interrogation from Stephen, the reprobation of other listeners and a confrontation with his own demons. But still he felt able to explain how financial worries had led to arguments, arguments had led to beatings, and those beatings to him leaving his wife, living rough, turning to drink and drugs and twice attempting suicide. He felt a deep sense of shame and wanted to tell other men who might be tempted to abuse their partners to seek help.

Stephen started the conversation by telling Paul: "You're exactly the kind of bloke I can't understand." Five or six minutes later, punctuated by searching questions, honest responses, and difficult silences, Stephen was telling him: "Actually, I admire you." For his part Paul offered: "Thanks for giving me this chance."

It was a remarkable interchange but by no means exceptional. People put great faith and trust in us and we do our best not to let them down. Of course, we're all caught up in World Cup fever, but sometimes it's healthy to remind ourselves it's not such a matter of life or death."

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