Welcome to Sunday! That’s how I start most of my Sunday Breakfast shows. Today’s show was particularly special as it marks one whole year! When I think back and compare how I felt coming in for the show last December (on the 6th) and today, it’s night and day.
Who needs sleep anyway?
When I got into the studio toady at 5:05am (late for me!) and eventually spoke to producer Steve, I said I had the best pre-show sleep in a whole year! I was in bed, lights out by 10:00pm, woke once around at 1:00am for a nana wee but then went straight back to sleep and then woke up exactly 1 minute before my alarm was due to go off at 3:59am. Unheard of for a Saturday night! For the last 12 months, no matter what time I went to bed – super early or rock star late – I’d be awake by 2am and then either resting or dozing until my alarm went off.
Last December I was convinced my weekends were now forever destroyed as the nerves set in around Friday afternoon so trashed 2 nights sleep instead of just 1. I’m very happy to report that although healthy nerves and butterflies exist just prior to a show, I no longer hold the terror that I’m going to break the station and can pretty much get on with my life.
Learning curve? Vertical, mate.
The 12 months prior to last December, I only had experience of covering shows, the number of which I could count on the fingers of both hands (and 1 toe), so being offered the breakfast show was mind-blowing and super affirming. The bosses think I can do this! Wow! However, as the date of the first show approached, the inflection changed a little. “The bosses think I can DO this???!? Wow…”
Joining the BBC just before a global pandemic has had it’s issues (duh). Covid-19 protocols means that most people are working from home unless essential for broadcast. No shared studios. No live guests. Working first thing on a Sunday morning means that I don’t generally see anyone except my producer and security.
The downside is that I’ve only met the majority of my new colleagues briefly, if at all. But I’ve been far from an island. Producers are the BEST. For the bulk of the year I’ve worked consistently with fabulous producer, Laura, who is now off on maternity leave, but over the course of the year I’ve worked with no fewer than 7 producers on this show which has been great to get to know them but also to learn from them.
They’ve all taught me something different whether it’s technical, journalistic, presentational or just to learn about the new culture of media I’ve now found myself in. It’s been absolutely amazing and I’m so grateful to every single one of them.
…and WHAT a year…
I’ve spoken in previous blogs on my feelings about 2021 (spoiler alert: not good), but it gives it a whole different energy when you have to live it and broadcast through it. Boris Johnson’s announcement that Christmas was essentially cancelled in 2020 was a standout moment. I remember watching the press briefing on the Saturday evening and thinking, “Crap. Well, THAT’S depressing…” and then thinking “What am I going to say in the morning??!”
Me and producer Matt met before the show and were deeply in our feelings. We exchanged expletives and comfort and then had a coffee and determined to have a blimmin’ good show. It was similar when the third national lockdown was announced a couple of weeks later and the months that ensued after.
Although initially seeming daunting, I can honestly say it’s been a privilege to be on the air during those times. To share with listeners, hear from them and in any way to be a comfort, encouragement, light relief or escape has been a true honour. In good times or bad, I hope to continue to do it. I love it.
Allow me a ‘Heather Small’ moment…
On the 1st anniversary of my Sunday Breakfast show, I will silence my default Britishness and declare that I’m proud of myself! I’m proud of all that I’ve learned, how much I’ve grown and stepping up to the challenge in the first place. I’m also so incredibly grateful – but more on that tomorrow.
I met with fantastic friends this afternoon for a Christmas meal (Big up the Magic 8!), and Secret Santa gave me this gift and accompanying advice. Thanks Secret Santa. I intend to.