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Londoners' resilience always shines through

London bombing victims led away for medical treatment

Michael Macfarlane, Head of BBC London
By Michael Macfarlane
Head of BBC London

It was always going to be a huge week in London. Live8 had been dominating the news agenda for days and the build up to the Olympic announcement was keeping all our teams very busy - both in Singapore and back here in London.

For radio and television we'd prepared two sets of programmes so that whatever Jacques Rogge said we would be ready to react.

Although some people thought London had a chance, the smart money said it was Paris' bid to lose, and I remember a conversation I had off the record at Live8 with a senior government minister who was worried about the fallout when (not if) the bid failed.

Londoners just got on with it, as they do with every twist and turn that comes the way of this amazing city
Michael Macfarlane

The moment of the announcement was sensational in the BBC London newsroom with the excitement mirroring the ecstatic scenes in Trafalgar Square and Singapore.

It dominated our radio and online coverage from then on and we broadcast our main TV programme live from Stratford, the new home of the Olympics.

Emily Maitlis, the programme presenter, welcomed viewers holding the original Olympic torch from 1948, the last time London had hosted the games.

It was a great end to a great day, and the whole team went home exhausted, with plans for how we were going to cover this amazing story for the next seven years.

The following day I was coming into work a little later than usual, listening to BBC London 94.9FM as the first snippets of news began to trickle through.

At first it was travel difficulties on the tube, electrical problems it was thought.

Londoners celebrate winning the 2012 Olympic bid
Londoners celebrate winning the bid

By the time I was in the office it was clear that something serious was happening, but it took the first caller to the radio station from Tavistock Square to reveal the scale and horror of what was unfolding.

The next few hours were a blur as we dispatched camera crews and reporters; turned the radio station into a vital rolling source of information and comfort for Londoners; and thought too about our own families and friends, as everyone in the capital and beyond did that day.

I remember the mobile phone networks in central London not working so keeping in touch was extremely difficult. Some parts of town were eerily quiet, but in others life went on with a semblance of normality.

The days after were the busiest we'd ever experienced, and the stories we broadcast were every Londoners stories: what it was like going back on the tube; the suspicion between people and communities; the false alarms and the heightened security everywhere.

And then two weeks later it nearly happened again; an innocent man was shot by the police, and everyone wondered whether this was going to be an ongoing facet of London life.

But London and Londoners are nothing if not resilient, and looking back now my overwhelming thought is how Londoners just got on with it, as they do with every twist and turn that comes the way of this amazing city.

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