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15th August 2007

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On The Record
A week in the life of On The Record

A new week begins at On The Record and it may be Monday morning but we�ve got to hit the ground running. We�ve got to make two films and find one, maybe two, big studio interviewees for the weekend, and the clock is already ticking�

Those working on films spend the day researching their items, booking interviews and finding people, stories and locations for filming. The rest of the team think about who should be John Humphrys� lucky guest in the studio on Sunday, talking to contacts, gathering information and consulting the forward planning diary to make sure the programme will hit the right issues at the right time as we go on air.

Wednesday morning and it�s the weekly production meeting where the team discusses the content of this week�s programme. With four days to go, we should have a main interview by now and everyone suggests the subjects we should be tackling with our studio guest and how. We also scan the political future and, fine-tuning our radar, attempt to discern what�s coming up over the next few weeks and months, so we can plan accordingly. Future ideas for films and interviews are discussed and then approved or discarded. And finally we analyse last Sunday�s show, discussing each of the items and deciding how better we could have grilled the political guests.

After that its back to the grindstone, and preparation for the interview begins in earnest. The researchers must wade through mountains of policy documents, speeches, press cuttings and quotes before putting together a line of argument that can be sustained for the whole interview.

At the same time our film teams are zooming around the country, bagging interviews, filming in all sorts of locations and usually getting rained on in the process. Paul may be in Manchester and Iain in Belfast, but they and their producers are working to the same tight timetables as those of us back in the office.

All change! With Sunday fast approaching, suddenly there�s a change of interviewee and we have to find a suitable replacement at short notice. Its time to hit the phones and the whole process of preparing for the interview begins all over again. Or, of course, the PM calls and says he�d like to come on the show and do an in-depth interview to clear up a few misunderstandings�.(yes, it has happened!)

Now we have a guest, John, the editor and the rest of the team go through the interview in detail. Arguments are tested and re-tested as we work to make sure that the interviewee engages with the subject and isn�t given the chance to wriggle off the hook.

At the same time producers and reporters return from far flung locations with bags of tapes and begin the process of putting their films together. One of the films will set-up the arguments for the studio interview, making a series of points that the politician must respond to under the pressure of John�s questioning. It is all part of the On The Record tradition, examining policies and politics rigorously but fairly.

With just 24 hours to go, the programme as a whole starts to come together. The interview is honed, facts are checked and John and the editor turn their attention to John�s script and the programme�s running order.

Meanwhile, locked away in the edit suites, producers, reporters and film editors work on their packages and the films take shape. Scripting, cutting the pictures together, adding graphics and archive, and finally dubbing the sound is quite a task and the teams sometimes work through the night to deliver the film for lunchtime broadcast on Sunday.

Morning: The team arrive at Television Centre bright and early and, after pouring ourselves large coffees, we then devour bacon butties and all the Sunday papers. The editor will probably have read them the night before, keeping an eye on the news programmes and chat shows for any new developments that might affect our interviews. After one final briefing, John heads off to make-up and the rest of the team head up to the gallery, where we can watch the presenter tackle politicians from a safe distance.

With half an hour to go, our studio guests arrive and are escorted to make up where they�re offered a calming cup of BBC coffee or tea before meeting John.

The director runs a last minute technical check, viewing the films, rehearsing the running order and making sure that any live feeds from studios around the country are up and running, and then the countdown to airtime begins. �Run titles� says the director��.the OTR music begins and the OTR croc is back on the nation�s screens�

12pm: Lights, Camera, Action! We�re finally on air and 1.5 million people are now watching the cumulative effects of a week�s work. Watch this week�s programme to see how it all went�..

1pm: Our guests are brought down to one of Television Centre�s famous �Green rooms� for a cup of coffee and a sandwich: This is a great opportunity to gather new political intelligence for future programmes.

And last but not least, the transcripts of the programme are typed up and the whole programme goes online.

Its all over for another week, and the team can enjoy what�s left of the weekend, before turning our thoughts to next week�s programme�