I spent all day on Tuesday filming in Bath with Dan Simmons for the BBC ‘Click’ programme. It’s the biggest technology show on the BBC, being broadcast on BBC World, BBC1, and online. Even the Twitter stream for the programme has nearly two million followers.
This was following up on my recent experience with Google and their decision to delete my entire Youtube account. I have got my videos back now, but only by appealing to everyone who had ever complained about me and getting them to withdraw the complaints.
I haven’t been out doing TV work in a public place before. I’ve done lots of talking heads work in TV studios, getting wheeled in to speak on the news as an expert in this or that, but shooting all over Bath over an entire day with Dan was great fun. We had kids desperate to get on TV without even knowing what the show was about. We had someone in a Manchester Utd shirt who insisted we should cover the story of his work with children’s football teams in Bath. We had people asking if it was ‘candid camera’. We had people laughing as I was getting my make-up done in the street.
It was certainly an experience to see how people react to a BBC camera out in the street. We certainly do live within a celebrity-obsessed culture. One woman outside Bath sports centre insisted that she already knew me because I am ‘famous and off the telly…’ even after I protested that there was no way she could know who I was, she just insisted!
I had assumed the hardest thing about doing pieces to camera in the street would be to remember my lines, but Dan had all kinds of ideas about how to take different shots, meaning I had to not only remember my lines, but also look in the right direction, walk in the right way, hit my spot on the pavement… then assuming I got all my stuff right we could still foul up a take if a bus had just gone past or some kids were screaming nearby. And even if there was no noise and I got my lines right, there were times when the camera-work could have been better. So you really do need to repeat the lines over and over until everything falls into place.
We spent the entire day filming in Bath, plus I still need to go to TV Centre in London to record some pieces in front of TVC and some voiceovers. Then there is a lot of editing to be done. It’s a lot of work for 4 or 5 minutes of television, but I hope you like it when it comes out.