Professional production, amateur gastronomy
Right, straight down to it. This week there are four things to cover:
1. A little behind-the-scenes action on last week's opening;
2. An idea of what an assistance producer does and how you could be one;
3. The greatest ever sandwich filling;
4. Something Lawro said on the sofa last Saturday.
First up, the opener. You might remember that last Saturday's Focus began with plenty of shots of me strolling around with some London landmarks in the background. We had the Millennium Bridge, the London Eye, Wembley Arena, HMS Belfast, the Houses of Parliament, Shepherd's Bush market and BBC TV Centre.
It might sound a relatively simple project to carry out, but we started filming at 0900 at the London Eye, got told off for touching the table at Wembley Arena at about 1230, before finishing up at TV Centre at 1430. It was a lengthy beast for producer Andy Casey, cameraman Matt, sound warrior Gil and me, although there was a 20-minute break for mince pies and drinks at 1130.
The shoot took the best part of two days to organise due to all the telephone calls and e-mails that needed to be made or sent to various organisations in order for us to gain access to the famous bits of London. Most of the preparation was done by Casey and researcher Stef, who works on Focus each week and has the crucial role of booking guests, chasing stories, badgering press officers and wearing skinny jeans.
Brother Casey will give you a little bit more insight into how it all came together below...
If you're wondering about Casey's accent, he's from Newton-Le-Willows (near St Helens) via Sheffield. He is one of eight assistant producers (or APs) who work on Focus every week. Each story we cover has an AP working on it and every item in the programme is put together with an AP and an editor.
The AP will normally set the story up, travel with the reporter to the interview, press conference or shoot and will always have an idea of how they want the piece to look in their heads before they get into the edit suite. We have loads of APs who work on Focus, Match Of The Day and Final Score.
There isn't really a set route into the job of AP. Of the APs who work on Focus, some have come from newspapers, some from other parts of TV, some have come at it cold and there are a few who have moved steadily up the ranks. A fair percentage have degrees, although I have my doubts.
If you are passionate about your football, have loads of ideas and don't fancy controlling a camera, then becoming an AP could be the way forward. Like any role in sport, it is fiercely competitive, but if you wake up in the morning thinking about revolutionary ways of cutting a Premier League goals montage, then this could be the job for you!
Right, now to the sandwich of dreams. The other day Mrs Walker brought back some of the really classy soft white bread (I believe bakers refer to it as a 'bloomer'). In the fridge, I had salad cream, cheddar cheese and silver-skin pickled onions (the little white fellas). The cupboard was stocked with a fresh tub of chocolate spread and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.
I just threw the whole lot between two mighty doorsteps. I know there might be some of you throwing your arms up in disgust but the next five minutes were magical. Before you castigate me for putting a chainsaw through the culinary rule book, try it out. The chocolate spread dampens the harshness of the onions while the salad cream makes you feel you're eating something healthy. The cheese gives you the much needed stodge-factor while the tangy crisps take the sandwich to another level.
Finally, I'd be interested to know how many of you agree with the point that Lawro made on Focus last week about the current Liverpool team. He reckons that the 11 players that started Gerard Houllier's last game in charge - back in 2004 - would beat the current crop (even with a fit Gerrard and Torres) 6 or 7 times out of 10. Here are the two sets of players for your perusal...
15 May 2004 v Newcastle
Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Heskey and Owen
16 February 2010 v Stoke
Reina, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Insua, Degen, Lucas, Masherano, Aurelia, Kuyt and Ngog
Danny Higginbotham, Stoke City, tackles Phillip Degen, Liverpool
The whole point of the discussion was to see whether Liverpool are any better - or any closer to winning the title - after five-and-a-half seasons under Benitez.
We had a good discussion about it before the programme, but I'm still not sure. Happy to hear what you think and let me know if any one is brave enough to try the sandwich of champions.
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