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“More or less on air, right…”

Posted 29th December 2013

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The following is one of the most fun videos I’ve ever seen. The BBC One O’Clock News, from 29th December 1986 – with gallery talkback. 27 years ago to the day. And things are getting rather hectic…

Part 1 above. See also: Part 2, Part 3.

The bulletin begins with the announcement during the title sequence that the lead story won’t make it. Not an unusual event maybe, but it’s thrilling to hear it actually happening. Unfortunately, things get worse from there. The whole thing is better experienced as a whole rather than just having me picking out bits and pieces, but trust me: it’s well worth your time. (If you’re in Dirty Feed’s core demographic, at least.) It all builds up to a genuinely thrilling climax… and one that the production team, to their credit, pull off superbly. That cut, 6:18 into the third part, is beautifully done – under immense pressure.

Incidentally, despite working in a TX suite which deals daily with live news, I don’t listen to enough open talkback to judge whose fault it is that the bulletin nearly falls apart. If anyone with a bit more experience in a live news gallery feels like playing the blame game, please do so in the comments. As a TX op, the bit that does give me the shivers is when the team realise they don’t have a duration for their late-delivery tape, meaning they can’t give TX a proper off-air time. “We’ll crash out of it, I’ll talk to pres…”

Finally, a slightly more serious thought, with the inevitable crunching gear change. What I found interesting about the lead story here is how much it has faded from the collective memory, mainly to be remembered only by the people involved. This isn’t some big story that impacts on a large number of people – it’s a very personal slice of pain. Listening to the story now, when the main public interest in the case has long gone, feels at best rather uncomfortable.

It’s an odd feeling to have about a news story which went out to millions of viewers on BBC1.

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