I have worked in the media for over 25 years, and in that time I’ve done everything from an interview with a vampire to doorstepping rogues traders to being infested with tropical bugs after filming in the Ukraine.
Here are eight odd facts about my journalist career.
- At university I joined the fencing club, but gave up when it clashed with being news editor of our student newspaper. The right choice, though actually being an Olympic fencer does appeal somewhat.
- My first ever reporting job, on that same paper, was covering the court case of a university friend who had mooned at the police. Ash, where are you now?
- Still on a courtroom theme, I was once at a magistrates court when the defendant (who happened to be a body builder) escaped by “jumping over the dock and powering his way out of the court and onto a waiting motor bike.” (as I think I put it). He ended up in Spain. His family kept appearing at the same court on conspiracy charges with rather suspicious suntans.
- And staying with the courtroom theme, I spent several months working at the Old Bailey. Working for an agency as a court reporter, along with one other reporter, I covered cases in 18 different courts every day.
- I was once offered two jobs at the same time – at the BBC and at Doctor magazine. I took the BBC. Not because it had better prospects, but because it was a shorter journey to work. Lucky chance eh?
- While there, I worked on a series called UKs Worst. That means I have officially stayed in the worst hotel in the country. It was in Brighton. Don’t worry, it’s now closed down.
- I also spent eight hours having corn-row extensions put in my hair, for UKs Worst Hair Disasters. It was at a salon in Norwich. Don’t worry, it’s now closed down too. (And no, there’s no photo, but if you’re really interested, you’ll find it in the BBC archives)
- When I produced the Service to Commemorate the Abolition of the Slave Trade for the BBC in 2007, I went to Ghana to make a film with the actor and playwright Kwame Kwei Armah. To film in a particular village, we had to seek the permission of the tribal chiefs. The entire village turned up, with the chiefs seated in the front row dressed in ceremonial robes, to listen to me state my case. It was a tad intimidating!