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Spreading the word
A festival performer gets to grips with the camera

Lizz Loxam, executive producer of BBC on Tour, reports on the summer sessions which gave people all over the UK a behind-the-scenes look at BBC News, Sport and Weather.

"On the left it's raining, and on the right it's going to be sunny."

That was the weather - as forecast by an eight-year-old girl in Edinburgh, who'd easily mastered the concept of camera left and camera right, but not quite understood that weather forecasters work with location not direction.

A teenage boy declared at the same event that it was going to be sunny in Edinburgh but was "pants" in Aberdeen!

Just how easily the audiences master our jobs is sometimes an uncomfortable awakening.

Top talent

Five-year-olds who can vision mix in five minutes; adults who've never been in a TV or radio studio in their lives but who take away a tape of which a trainee journalist would be proud.

One reason could be that they were helped by our top talent - on and off air.

How could you fail to make a good news bulletin if you've got Huw Edwards or Fiona Bruce helping you through it?

Edinburgh Festival performers present their own version of the news
Edinburgh Festival performers present their own version of the news
And as for pronouncing those difficult words - is that BBC Radio 4's Peter Donaldson in the radio studio gently guiding a young blind girl through her first effort at reading the radio news?

Over in the sports commentary booth, cries of "Goooaaaaal!Fourth round here we come!!!" from young - and not so young - sports fans gave the likes of Ron Jones and Ray Stubbs food for thought.

It was a kind of commentary karaoke.

We played the clip complete with commentary, the guest commentator listened and made notes, then we turned down the commentary, laid the effects and they commentated in their own style. They were good - very good.

Local stars were there too - the top talent from the Nations and Regions working alongside our network telly and radio presenters and staff to provide a real 'money can't buy' experience for the public.

Rookie reporters

For the very young (or the very shy) there was a quiet corner where visitors could write a piece for News or Sport Online with themselves or their family at the heart of the story.

We also set up a stand where people could make up a graphic with their photo and a 'reporting from' caption from any place in the world.

For would-be campaigners and those who'd spotted a local issue needing wider attention, the staff of iCAN were on hand to help; many of those stories were picked up by local BBC staff.

Excitingly, at each event we found a 'rookie reporter' - a member of the public who was good enough to make a film for their local BBC News programme.

We were not looking for the next Huw or Fiona, but rather someone who had grabbed the attention of those crowding into the marquee.

Penny Tranter gets some help with the weather from Elvis in Liverpool
Penny Tranter gets some help with the weather from Elvis in Liverpool
For example, we found Alison, a 24-year-old from Glasgow, who did an investigation for Reporting Scotland on whether the Edinburgh Festival can hang onto its slot as the biggest and the best.

In Wales, the 55-year-old general manager of the Pembrokeshire Show reported for Wales Today on the worldwide shortage of sheep. Yes, really.

Foot and mouth was the cause, but as our rookie Malcolm discovered, it's good news for Welsh farmers.

All the reporters were mentored by the top TV face of that genre - so, for example, Alison was helped to make her arts report by Razia Iqbal and Malcolm in Wales was mentored by Wyre Davies.

An added twist was that each of the rookies working with their 'mentor' was filmed for a Breakfast News feature produced by Sally Attard.

Also, on the first day of each new location the Breakfast weather reports came from our marquee.

But Carol, Helen, Louise and the rest of the weather team do tend to mention specific places rather than relying on left and right and, so far as I know, the word 'pants' has yet to feature in a BBC weather forecast!



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