Monday 1 November 2010

My day with the One Show

Did you manage to catch the item about comping on the One Show in the middle of October? I told as many people as I could about it, but I was only given a couple of hours’ notice that it was going to be shown so some of you may have missed it. Lots of those who have seen it have asked me questions about how it was made and what it was like doing it, so I hope they are all answered here.

The clip was very short, only 4 or 5 minutes long, so you may be surprised that it took a whole day, back in early August, to film it.

The producer and a cameraman arrived at my home first thing in the morning. They were both very friendly, easy-going people so I soon relaxed and completely forgot about the camera. It was more like chatting to friends than being interviewed. They came around the house and garden with me, looking at prizes I have won over the years, they pored over my photos from prize holidays, and they filmed me at the computer working on the next issue of Grape Vine.

They collected together a huge stack of books I have won and piled them up in front of me, filming them being removed one at a time until I appeared from behind the pile. They even filmed me opening my post, just in case there was a prize among the letters. (There wasn’t.)

All this took the whole of the morning. Then we drove to the New Forest, about 50 miles away, where we were expected at a campsite (camping/comping – somebody at the BBC enjoys wordplay!). There we met up with Dominic Kennedy and one of the researchers from the programme and had a quick lunch in the campsite café. The staff and the customers were all delighted to see Dom and he was lovely with them, unlike some TV presenters I have met who become stand-offish as soon as the camera stops rolling.

After lunch, the researcher set off around the campsite to find some participants. The idea was for us to “Turn campers into compers.” However there was a flaw in the plan. It was a cold, windy day and pouring with rain. So instead of relaxing around the campsite, nearly all the campers had headed off to nearby towns to seek out shops, cinemas and other indoor entertainment. The only people she could find were a family of two adults and two children, but as the site was so quiet a few of the staff decided they were free to join in to make up the numbers.

The filming was all done outside, under some VERY big umbrellas. First of all, Dom interviewed me about comping and asked for some tips for the “campers”. Then he gave them some comps to enter, in the hope that by the time the programme was aired there would be some winners. He and I were coaching the campers and giving them tips- but then the BBC called him and said they needed him to get back to London earlier than planned, so I finished the afternoon’s coaching session on my own.

Unsurprisingly, nobody won anything from the afternoon’s session – only a few competitions were attempted, all of them ones that would have had many thousands of entries. And three of the entrants were children who were too young to enter the competitions on offer. But everybody had a lot of fun and the constant supply of hot tea from the site café saved us from being made miserable by the weather.

By the time we had cleared up and driven home, the whole thing had taken 10 hours. And the producer, cameraman and researcher, as well as Dom, all had long journeys before and after. All that work for just a few minutes of television – is it any wonder the license fee is so high?

Finally to answer two questions I have been asked that didn’t really fit in with my account of the day:
• No, I wasn’t paid anything and neither were any of the participants at the campsite
• The dragonfly brooch I was wearing, which so many of you loved, was a competition prize from the daily draw on the JaneoJewels website.

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