The call from the BBC came in the middle of Saturday afternoon. They had seen the footage about Signly by their colleagues at BBC South a few days earlier, and now wanted someone to be interviewed, the following day, live on the sofa, for BBC Breakfast and maybe BBC News.
It was then a mad panic to see who from the Signly partners was available to drop everythi
ng and head up to Salford – L.S.Lowry country – in time for the first interview at 07:20, ideally overnight – the BBC would provide a hotel.
It soon became clear that no one else from the extended Signly team of Roald Dahl Museum, Intermedia and Deafax could make it, so I was elected. To be honest, I was quite pleased to do it, even though I knew I’d be nervous. I then briefed the producer over the phone on the
background to the project, our aims, and so on, for her to pass it all on to the presenters. I was to be interviewed by Rachel Burden and Roger Johnson.
The Highways Agency had helpfully closed part of the M6 so it took me over three hours to do the trip from Oxfordshire to Salford Quays, arriving in the early hours of Sunday morning at my Holiday Inn Express. Pausing only to arrange an alarm call for stupid o’clock, I slept.
At the BBC reception the next day, I was immediately put at my ease by the security guard; a charming man who had an interest in sign language and promised me that I was about to meet some lovely people. He was right; from the escort and the make-up artist to the sound man and on-duty producers, everyone made me feel welcome. A really nice team.
It was weird being in that building so early in the morning, and on a Sunday too. Hardly anyone about and yet a full schedule of regional and national programmes being broadcast. I was taken to the green room and I’d been really looking forward to this bit! It wasn’t, however, a gentleman’s club-type place with deep leather armchairs! It wasn’t even separate room, but a small-ish area of sofas and chairs with a large screen set to mute, the Sunday papers, and a groaning trolly of things to eat and drink.
Not wanting to have any crumbs caught in my throat later, I resisted the croissants and muffins, but got my fair share of fruit juices, coffee and water, and enjoyed the view of the brightening morning across the quays.
Eventually other sofa guests joined me. There was a Professor who had just flown in from France following the close of the climate change conference, and a Daily Mail journalist reviewing the papers. Both seemed much more at ease that I felt.
When my time came I was very nervous. I couldn’t take any notes in with me. The time flashed by and in no time I was back in the green “room”. I had no
recollection of what I’d said. I remembered signing good morning to Roger and Rachel, and how nice they’d been before we went live and during the chat, but whether I’d got the main points across – no idea!
The emails and texts started to arrive immediately, so it must have been okay. Much relieved, I tried to practise what I wanted to say for the different BBC News interview. It had been delayed, and Signly would be the last piece of the day – a good slot to have, I was told.
Same thing – get miked up, through the scary doors, chat to Roger, on his own this time, and then it was all done! (Watch the BBC NEWS Interview here)
Since then, which is a few weeks ago, loads of people have come up to me and been kind enough to say that it went well. I’m amazed at how many of my friends, neighbours, colleagues and former workmates are actually up and watching TV at such an early hour on a Sunday morning, but I’m very grateful that they were. The BBC interviews on Facebook and YouTube have been seen more than 25,000 times, and Signly is getting better known each day. We’ve had interest in Signly from banks and airports, publishers and lots of visitor attractions. Even a crematorium.
Let’s hope that the next time the BBC calls for a sofa interview, we’ll be able to tell them about new Signly projects all over the country.