Radio Days

Been fitting in a bit of science between the science media shows … went up to Edinburgh last night on the Caledonian Sleeper. I would thoroughly recommend Scotrail’s night train … having been across south west France recently on SNCF‘s version, which is ok as far as it goes, Scotrail win hands down. I woke and ate breakfast just beyond Carstairs, as the rolling hills of South Lanarkshire passed by. They looked absolutely beautiful in the early morning sun. And Edinburgh Waverley Station’s ironwork shone bright.


A very interesting meeting at the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions occupied my morning, discussing the possibilities for neutron scattering studies of matter at high pressures and temperatures into the next decade or more, especially resulting from the planned European Spallation Source in Sweden. And then south once more.

But I am getting ahead of myself. What of the end of last week at the beeb? I spent a Thursday interviewing folk at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition and at the Science Museum. Unfortunately the Marantz Recorder I was using conspired against me, and technical failures (on my part) led to a worthless day of work with little useful material obtained.


In the meantime I have been building a couple of stories that may appear in the coming week, with plenty of telephone interviews and data gathering. This will involve my first “outside broadcast” on Monday, when I attempt to go out and get some radio beyond the immediate vicinity of New Broadcasting House.

Meanwhile, back at HQ, the Dark Matter and Dark Energy piece will appear once more, this time in World Service’s “The Science Hour” tomorrow …

Radio Days


Day 1 in the house

Alarm set, travel plans sorted, clothes selected for the day. I am ready for anything the BBC can throw at me … here we go: day one of life as a media fellow.

Get an early train and have plenty of time for my 10:15 appointment at New Broadcasting House (NBH) reception. Seems like a plan. Do I need a jumper and a jacket? It’s mid-summer, but certainly temperate. Let’s not take chances, jumper and jacket it is. That way I can store all my bits and bobs in the plethora of jacket pockets and arrive looking vaguely smart (as good as it gets for me, in any case).

I leave with just enough time to get to the station, and no more. In the process I have to cycle furiously, search hopelessly for a bike space on the forecourt, give up, and leave my steed squeezed between two others in a makeshift “space”. 08:13, plenty of time to get the 08:15? Scurrying across the new bridge to platform 6 I arrive just in time, having built up a good sweat to start the day.

Boy it’s warm. Strip off jacket and jumper and try to relax. By the time we are at King’s Cross I have re-equilibrated and found some calm. Rather than join the throng on the Victoria line I opt for a pleasant walk through Bloomsbury, Tottenham Court Rd, then Goodge Street to Langham Place. There should be time en route for a coffee, so I stop along the way and get one “to go”. Curiously the lid comes loose as I raise it to my lips and I spill half a cup down my shirt front. It’s going to be a jumper day, whatever the weather. Lucky I removed it earlier. I arrive at  NBH reception at 10:13, just in time.

Suzanne Elston brings me to the “Science Hub” on floor 2 and introduces me to my desk for the next two days. What happens on Wednesday? I’ll wait and see. Meantime I make my introductions with some of my new summer colleagues … Anna to my left works on TV, World News. We chat about her Horizon programme on The Core, and my regular colleagues’ parts in it. She recounts her pleasure at learning about the depths of the Earth. This sounds good.

Later I meet Johnny B, sitting directly behind me: one of last year’s cohort of media fellows who is back for another summer of fun, he enjoyed it so much. This sounds even better.


While I am trying to work out what I should be doing (and how Windows works) Anna kidnaps me and sets me to work on one of her projects for the week … news that is scheduled to come out with Glastonbury at the weekend (I am self-embargoed). Feeling I have already let radio down, I pitch an idea to Julian Siddle and before I know it I am roped in to do a piece for the World Service’s “Science in Action” programme, to be recorded tomorrow. This sounds “interesting”.  Could be car crash radio … wait and see.

Later I chat with Paul Rincon, further down the room at the online news desks. I mention the same idea to him. Lo and behold, it seems I might have a piece on the same subject in news online, we’ll see.

Day 1 in the house. Diverse, interesting, challenging, and now with some homework to do before that recording tomorrow.

Oh, and yes, now you ask, Brian Cox did pop into the office today.