How to stitch & unstitch a programme

3 Apr

April Fool’s day was a day and a half in the studio. Working on BBC4 News with my namesake, and favourite editor, Nisha Kapur, turned into a master-class on how to stitch, unstitch, and restitch a programme till we got it right. The day started out with gameplan A – let’s go for an unusual lead story – is the Catholic church shifting it’s ground on contraception, following comments by the UK’s Archbishop Vincent Nicholl that he could understand why contraception is “attractive” in alleviating world poverty. But as the day went on, doubts emerged, is it really a strong enough lead? How about the outburst from Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the UN was to blame for the widespread fraud in last year’s contentious presidential elections – good, meaty story, and the man in President Karzai’s firing line – Peter Galbraith- has agreed to a live interview during the programme. Yes, lead story material, let’s move it to the top of the running order. But then, what’s this, with an hour and a half to go before the show, news trickling out of Sudan about a massive boycott by the main  opposition parties of the imminent elections – being billed as the first multi-party elections in half a century. Zeinab Badawi’s in Sudan already ahead of the elections, can we reach her – yes we can. Can we get her live, at the top of the show? Yes, we can. And what a tour-de-force report we had from Zeinab, fresh from interviewing the most serious Presidential candidate about why he was pulling out, and door-stepping  the US envoy  desperately trying to patch the election back together again. Fantastic show – with all the right elements – Sudan, Afghanistan, Catholic church – but in reverse order to how we’d started out. Got there in the end. (PS – Peter Galraith told us his first reaction to President Karzai’s allegations was – this must be an April Fool’s Joke!)

5 Responses to “How to stitch & unstitch a programme”

  1. Nash 08. Apr, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Thanks for this wonderful insight into how our news is laboured over and put together by you TV-wallahs. It’s cool to get an insider’s perspective. I look forward to reading more!

  2. Marius 13. Apr, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Agree with Nash. Actually, I have never thought about how the news are crafted in this way. You telling this, it sounds all natural how this news order is the right one – i’m wondering however what the storytelling-consequences would be if something had been decided otherwise..

  3. Martin (Switzerland) 13. Apr, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Personally I’m a big fan of the Karzai story. Hasn’t this guy who was allegedly a stooge completely gone rogue? And Galbraith’s claim that Karzai has a “certain fondness for some of Afghanistan’s most profitable exports” is pretty hot stuff.

  4. Lars 15. Apr, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Just saw you in the news,
    and I must say the couple of minutes were awesome – especially regarding that I now understand how much élan and truble you had had before in order to realise this great news programme.

  5. MarkSpizer 02. May, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    great post as usual!

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