Time to Focus on a new role
This is a big moment. My first BBC blog. Where do I start? Do I have to wear a tie while I write this sucker? In fact I am wearing shorts and an England cricket top, but I'll start by telling you how this all came about.
The day I was offered the gig on Football Focus was a strange one. It was the Thursday of the Open at Turnberry and at 2 pm I looked at my phone - not the done thing on the course - and saw I had two missed calls from the head of television sport at the BBC.
I thought he wanted to tell me off for something I had either said or done on the golf course, so I didn't ring him back until 8.15 that night. I can't remember exactly how the conversation went, but I was told that Ray Stubbs was leaving and there was going to be a bit of a shake-up in football.
I thought I was going to be asked to cover some shows while they sorted things out, so when I was offered the Focus gig I think my voice went a little high-pitched and I might have squealed a touch. After I'd hung up I kicked a pebble in delight and called my wife. The bad news was the pebble took a nasty ricochet right and left a little nick on a BMW!
On driving home from Turnberry that night I remember thinking about all the previous regular presenters of Focus... Wilson, Rider, Lineker, Stubbs, Bhasin and the sizeable shoes I was going to have to fill. I knew that we weren't talking mouldy moccasins... these were really fancy snow boots with tassles and go-faster stripes.
The next two weeks were pretty bonkers... press conferences, interviews and endless meetings in addition to trying to look after daughter number two, who is now six weeks old. But none of that has in any way reduced my excitement.
My Saturdays as a young boy were based around Grandstand and Focus. I used to annoy my mother by commentating on old ladies in the frozen food isle when I was dragged to the supermarket after school. I even wrote a letter to Des Lynam at the age of 11 asking him how I could get his job.
Anyway, enough of me blithering on about my new job. The whole point of this blog is to try to give you a bit more access to the programme. It would be great to hear your opinions, what you want to see... or not.
In the weeks to come I will hopefully be taking you on a grand tour of all the various bits behind the scenes but here is a brief overview of how it all comes together...
We have a meeting every Tuesday, normally attended by various superstars from football. You can see from the photo below that Garth Crooks and Mark Bright were in there this week while in the bottom right-hand corner you will see the back of Motty's head.
The highlight of the meeting was the great man's ring tone. Hearing Elvis singing "The Wonder of You" will brighten any meeting. With each phone call he receives, Motty disappear for two minutes... you never know who is on the other end but it always sounds important.
Filming for the programme will usually take place on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Jonathan Pearce interviewed Mark Hughes on the Thursday while Garth went off to see Roy Keane on Friday morning. Friday is normally spent writing cues, checking facts, eating cake, watching the cut pieces, checking facts and generally getting things together.
We now have a new task on Friday as well. Lawro and I will film Friday Focus, which is a cunning way of previewing the weekend with a 10-minute cut down version of what you will see on the Saturday. Check out the next instalment from about 6pm this Friday.
My first appointment on Saturday morning is to turn up at the BBC Breakfast studio at about 8.35 to tell the people what is coming up on Focus and play a few snippets from the interviews we have on the programme.
Then we all head down to the Focus, Score and Match of the Day production office. It's in there that coffee and tea is drunk, bacon sandwiches are devoured and we all have a gander at the morning papers to make sure we've not missed anything.
Then it's make-up on, shirt on and into the studio to run through the programme and make sure everything is working. Lawro turns up about eight seconds before we are on but you would never know.
The highlight of last week's show was definitely the 'phantom hand' that appeared during JP's bit from Ewood Park.
Loads of people have asked me about it, so I did a little digging and can confirm that the owner of the hand was in fact floor manager Nick Bushell. If you look very carefully you can see there is a rather special watch on that wrist as well. Nick says it is a Chairman Mao watch that was purchased in Tiananmen Square and broke the day after he bought it for the equivalent of just £2. I hope that clears that up.
Right... time to go now. I've got to go and do an interview with BBC Radio Cumbria about being the new presenter of Football Focus. I've hit the big time!