The perils of live telly

by Stephen Tall on September 24, 2006

So I wasn’t going to blog about this…

Last Monday was my first time on live telly, on BBC News 24, where I was asked to give my reflections on the opening day of the Lib Dem conference, alongside a political correspondent for the Financial Times.

The interviewer, James Landale, asked her a question; then he asked me a question (a different question to the one he’d said he would ask, but what the heck). And then he reverted to my fellow interviewee – who looked queasy, staggered slightly, and then fainted. Live on air.

It’s fair to say I was caught off-guard (as you can see from this still). Together with Mr Landale, we (sort of) caught her mid-fall, and then there was a split second when we both thought the same thing – do we carry on?

Quite rightly, the channel’s editors intervened, and cut straight back to the News 24 studio in some confusion.

As I say, I wasn’t going to mention any of this here (it just didn’t seem fair). But two things prompt me to do so.

First, I see the BBC has seen fit to broadcast the moment on its Storyfix download, which you can watch here (it’s about a third of the way in).

To my embarrassment and shame, I emerge from the incident looking utterly heartless, rather than serenely gallant (as I had hoped, and mis-remembered) – like the kind of cheap politician who would step over his own grandmother’s corpse if she lay between him and a photo-op. My only defence is that it happened very quickly, and that I was acutely conscious this was being broadcast in real-time.

The second reason I’m now telling all is that the journalist who fainted wrote a lovely e-mail to me last week, which Id like to share:

I don’t know if you remember me, but I was the falling body that interrupted your moment of glory on BBC News 24 on Monday evening in the Metropole Bar.

This is just a short note to say sorry that my unexpectedly crashing blood pressure came between you and Mr Landale’s penetrating questions – I told James later that he should have just stepped over me and carried on asking you what you thought about things. Sky would have done, I reckon!

And several of Ming’s aides said I’d introduced a great way of avoiding the difficult questions on policy.

Anyway, I’ve heard you on just about every broadcast outlet since then, so well done, and I clearly haven’t killed off a burgeoning career.

Regards, and please feel free to use the video clip and this letter on your site if you feel like it – I’m absolutely fine and won’t be offended at all. It was apparently a television first, and James said (I can’t remember any of it) that you did at least get to answer one question before I did the drama queen bit.

‘Nuff respect.

PS: Rob Fenwick has oh-so-kindly uploaded my moment of un-glory to YouTube here.

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You realise now, with a compelling piece of TV footage like that under your belt, you’re destined to become party leader?

Stephen “it’s alright for you, you’ll all be dead in 30 years time” Tall

Well done you. I would have done *exactly* the same thing.

by Rob on September 24, 2006 at 2:40 pm. Reply #

Haaaaang on. Wait just one minute. Now I look at that screen grab I note I’m standing right behind you… and I completely failed to notice!

Heavens above. I hope I didn’t miss any other women in distress during conference week.

by Rob on September 24, 2006 at 2:46 pm. Reply #

Thanks, Rob – cos William Hague’s career is really the one I want to emulate.

by Stephen Tall on September 24, 2006 at 3:19 pm. Reply #

No unflattering comparison intend, I swear!

by Rob F on September 24, 2006 at 4:00 pm. Reply #

That is truly shocking Stephen …

… the presenter didn’t seem to know who you were!!

by Liberal Neil on September 24, 2006 at 4:02 pm. Reply #

Love the site makeover, Stephen. Tory Blue. Have you finally seen the light?

by Anonymous on September 24, 2006 at 8:45 pm. Reply #

Anon – “traditional liberal values in a modern Tory setting” – now where have I heard that kinda thing before?

by Stephen Tall on September 24, 2006 at 9:22 pm. Reply #

Three years later, saw it for first time on OUttake TV repeated on “Watch”. The look of horror on your face is priceless.

by The Burbler on February 21, 2009 at 10:20 am. Reply #

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