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Thursday, October 15, 2009

This is what happens when the Today Programme send the radio car

For a start it's not so much a car as a van. The driver, who's also the engineer, turns up at your house about forty minutes before the appointed time and looks for a place to park. He then cranks up an enormous transmitter mast which is as high as the houses. Looking out of their windows the neighbours assume that it's a TV detector van and nervously check that their TV licence is up to date. About ten minutes before your item is due the chap comes and knocks on your door and conducts you into the tiny studio in the back of the van. The two of you sit there with headphones on and eventually your item starts. They say that cunning old foxes like Michael Heseltine always chose to be interviewed via the radio car. Not only did he get more time in bed but he also took advantage of the absence of presenter eye-contact to keep talking far longer than he would ordinarily be allowed.

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:07 am

    I also know of one former Labour party cabinet minister who wasn't allowed to do interviews from the radio car by their special advisers, precisely because it provided too much temptation to have just one more glass of wine the night before, leading to extremely grumpy if not slightly slurred interviews

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  2. In the case of Nigel Lawson, he always preferred the radio car as it meant he didn't have to put on a suit and tie, but could wander out in his pyjamas and dressing gown, both of which would have been vast in size.

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  3. Were you being interviewed about this Westland Helicopter fiasco?

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  4. I sort of remember the radio car used to be a black cab....somebody tell me I'm not imagining it.

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  5. Anonymous10:34 pm

    Either you or your neignbour appears to have a fine taste in sensible motor cars...

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  6. I did the radio car/van once, all exactly as you say Dave, but was struck by the way they introduced me, as in "now I'm joined by", giving the distinct impression I was sitting in the studio across the desk. I now listen for any tell-tale sign that Humphrys and co are staring at a vacant chair, like an interruption that would never happen with two people in the same room, because very rarely now do the presenters 'fess up and say, "and now in the radio car . . ." Just too embarrassing to admit not everyone wants to flog to the West End at seven in the morning, even for the mighty Today.

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  7. Many years ago I spent 24 hours with the Today Programme for a feature. I interviewed John Timpson and Brian Redhead. One of the questions I put to them was about the impression they gave that the whole world was passing through their studio. They were at pains to point out that it was editorial policy to always make it clear whether someone was in the studio or elsewhere. Which, to be fair, they did in my case.

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  8. Anonymous8:34 pm

    Why not just do it on the phone? Seems an awful lot of effort for a small amount more sound quality!

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