Guest-presenting Out of Doors
It's stupid o'clock on Saturday morning, an hour before Out of Doors goes on-air. I'm outside the BBC in Aberdeen, staring at two sets of headphones with jokey stickers on them. One says "star", the other "sidekick". How to choose?
It's not, as it happens, the first time I've seen these. In May, they were on the heads of Mark Stephen and Euan MacIlwraith, the veteran hosts of the programme. I was being interviewed along with my old school chum, Mike, just before we set out on a cross-Scotland adventure. After a dip in the sea at Aberdeen beach, we ran, cycled, walked and canoed across Scotland, to end up ten days later on the west coast at Ardnamurchan.
Bill and his friend Mike being interviewed by the out of doors team in May.
Bill during his cross country cycle.
Mark and Euan have an easy, jokey, rapport which manages to sound both comforting and authoritative. A hard act to follow for Helen Needham and me this morning.
So, a quick run-through of the script, and a check of the sound levels, and at half past six we're off and running. A warm up circuit of wind farm controversy is followed by a lap round wild camping, over the jumps of an animal sanctuary and cyclocross, and a final sprint at European Shark Week. Phew. Where did the time go? Soon we're winding up, and trying to squeeze in as much listener response as possible. Calls, texts and emails have poured in, and as I read each one out I scrunch up the paper and chuck it on the ground. A mistake, it turns out, because we're going to need these later, when we pre-record the Sunday version of the programme, which goes out at eleven. So, unscrunched papers in hand and suitably chastened, we get the repeat recorded and it's time to heat up.
And boy, am I cold. I knew the show, as the name suggests, happened out of doors. What I hadn't quite reckoned on was just how chilled you get standing more or less in the one spot for a couple of hours. Even with three layers (and a hat) I can feel my mouth slowing up and my teeth considering a good chatter.
In the stone dark days of mid-October it's bad enough, but what must it be like in January? Or when it's raining? Pretty awful I would think. Denise, today's producer, says she delights in telling the usual presenters to get out from under the sheltering porch and into the rain. Easy for her to say from the warmth and dry of studio .
Soon enough I'm back in the car, heater full on, heading home past hordes of tractors, and families on tattie holidays. From now on I'll have extra respect for the Our of Doors team, as I hunker down under the duvet and think of the "star" and "sidekick" struggling to keep the sleet off their scripts and the icicles off their noses. And which set of headphones did I get? D'you know, as I fumbled with glasses, hat, headphones and paper, I forgot to look.
Out of Doors broadcasts Saturdays at 0630, with a shortened repeat on Sunday mornings at 1105.