17 Dec The Virtual Conversation with Mr Richard Murrell – Senior Director of the BBC News – an Unforgettable Afternoon Lesson for Us All
Written by Jamie – Year 8 student reporter and Mrs Nguyen
On Tuesday 2nd December 2020, Richard Murrell, the Senior Director of BBC News, hosted an hour’s talk with all students at Whitley Academy via an online session on Microsoft Teams. The opportunity was offered to us from the national charity Speakers for Schools.
Right from the start of the talk, Richard highlighted that he would mostly focus on his experience of working in the broadcasting world.
“For the past almost a year Covid-19 has changed the way how we live, work and play. However, Covid-19 doesn’t change anything in the world of broadcasting.”
We all focused attentively on the first short video clip on what it was like on a working day of the BBC Television Director. There were many rectangle shaped screens in front of us, but Richard seemed to know precisely which screens to focus on with quick and simple requests from him for the crew to act upon. We realised how exact things need to be to ensure a television show go live and smoothly on air.
Some very interesting facts we have learnt from Richard…
-There are days that Richard’s alarm clock sounds at 2:20 am in the morning so that he can be ready for work!
-There was a time in the recording history that to edit sound in a radio station, you had to physically cut the tape with a razor blade and then use a sticky tape to stick both ends of the tape together! Today everything is done on a computer!
We were then shown the inside of the role of a television presenter. Richard surprised us with his remark that everyone wanted to be a presenter as it’s a well-paid job, full of fun and quite thrilling!
Afterwards Maryam Moshiri – the current BBC World News presenter, who has been at the BBC for more than 16 years – took us on a short journey of a typical work day of a television presenter. It was so fascinating to find out that her work day can start at any time, depending on the programmes she is working on. The day starts with around 45 minutes of having some make-up applied followed by a team meeting briefing about the day’s programme. Then of course live, on air! Maryam also shared with us that broadcasting was a serious business but the team tried to have fun as much as possible.
“In the broadcasting world, expect the unexpected”
To enable us all to get involved as television presenters; even remotely, Richard arranged some on-screen autocues so that we could read out the transcript and ask Mishal Husain – one of the main presenters of the BBC News – some questions directly. Mishal advised us how to control nerves whilst being on air and how she got to where she was today. Everything looked so real and it was as if we were actually interviewing Mishal. We then quickly realised how the autocues have transformed the fast moving environment of a live broadcasting room with many guests coming in and out. Wow!
“ It doesn’t matter who you are. The most important thing is that you are excited about trying to get into the world of broadcasting”
There was a moment of silence throughout our classrooms when we listened to Sodaba, a young journalist of the BBC. Sodaba shared with us that she had recently got a completely brand-new job as BBC Global Religion Correspondent. You might wonder how she managed to soon start working on a new job at the BBC, one of the world’s leading broadcasting corporation and will, in two years’ time, celebrate its 100th birthday. It was during the first lockdown in March 2020 that she had an interest in using her phone to film the topics that interested her – one of which was how Muslims were fasting during lockdown. The documentary was then shown on the BBC flagship bulletin and Sodaba got a job that did not exist before!
“ All you need is a phone and a subject you are interested in. Use your phone and experimenting with it and see where it takes you.”
Safety whilst broadcasting…
Very quickly we were taken to another aspect of working in the field of broadcasting: safety whilst at work. We were shown a short video clip of training for the BBC staff and realised that working at the BBC, you have to go through a lot of safety training sessions to gain techniques, skills and knowledge to cope with a variety of unexpected scenarios.
From now on, when we watch a televised piece of news with broadcasters and presenters being there in a riot or a protest, we understand that they know what to do to deal with the situations in the safest way, and at the same time, broadcast quality programmes for viewers around the world.
“You can never predict what you are going to do when working in the world of news”
To conclude his talk, Richard shared a very funny video clip that Maryam Moshiri – the BBC News presenter – wanted to wind Richard up and it was only 5:58 am -2 minutes before the live programme in the morning. Maryam pretended to ignore Richard’s (the broadcasting Director) instructions and spent the pre-show time singing her very own high pitched tone. In spite of Richard’s stress, the live broadcast was perfect!
At the moment of writing this blog, Richard’s piece of advice for us still resonates so strongly in our mind: “You do what makes you happy. You should chase your dream, dare to dream and dare to challenge people around you”.
The following are some more interesting stories we have learnt from Richard….
What encouraged you personally to become a director?
Before directing, Richard was a vision mixer. It took him 8 attempts to get the job he wanted to do. He has been well-known for being a ‘vicar’- calm and caring – in his role as a broadcast director. Now after many years of experience, he is affectionately known as ‘the archbishop’ of directing.
What was your experience like when you met the President of the United States of America?
It was years ago that Sir David Frost and Richard flew to the White House on a Tuesday to be ready for the filming on that Thursday. It was a lengthy security check; as the whole film crew walked up the driveway, they were directed to take all the equipment into the lift and to the first floor. As the carpets were seen as national art treasures, the whole crew had to put down protective sheets before setting up the filming. It was amazing to be given a personally guided tour around the White House by the Press Secretary. In short, the experience was fascinating, thrilling and breath-taking!
Thank you for reading our blog.
Our Special thanks to the national charity Speakers for Schools who has given us the opportunity that has made this day very SPECIAL and INFORMATIVE.
“No salary range can really compensate for the memories that you gain particularly working in broadcasting world”