Tuesday, 13 April 2010

What really happens behind the camera

On Sunday I was called a media tart by the producer of the Politics Show Eastern region. It was fair game really because not only was I asked to do a question on the regional show; I was then asked to grill Vince Cable live on the national show about the Lib Dems economic policies; and did a short slot for the region on my views at this stage of the election campaign with the camera rolling in the beautiful sunshine. Three bites at the cherry in one day!

So why I am mentioning all this. Not to give myself any further plugs - I have yet to watch how I came across on the show and my cousin has threatened to play it this evening on iplayer whilst we have our dinner - but because the experience itself was so different to what I had expected. I say that having already recorded 4 sessions for the regional People's panel. I thought you would be interested to hear my thoughts.

What was really wierd was being called by MiL on Sunday night when I was shattered because I had come down off the adrenalin rush which had kept me going between 7am and lunchtime at that stage. Her view was that I came across as very serene not a word that I or others that know me would probably ever have associated with me in the past. So that certainly gave me plenty to think about.

What really struck me was the amount of time the professionals actually spend practising before it goes live. The presenter for the region went over her opening sequence four time putting more and more feeling and emotion into each time before they recorded it for the show. It all had a much more artificial air because unlike previous occasions where the panel has sat around a table in a hotel room having a lively debate about issues. This time we were in a cavernous barn which was freezing despite the sunshine outside, sat in two rows facing the three politicians, a couple of whom had come up beforehand to schmooz there way into our affections! There was also a piece of white tape on the floor to indicate where the presenter needed to stand when introducing us to the viewers.

It all continued in a similar vein so when the presenter picked on me to comment on the responses to the second question about how voters could trust politicians, which I had also had as one of my questions, I was thrown. The politicians' ability to spin had been so convincing it was hard to come up with my objections. I managed it after an initial fumbling over my words. Then the frustrating point was that although they squeezed my question in about climate change and the need to come up with creative ways of addressing the fact that we are running out of fossil fuels and water, there was no time to come back to the Panel once the politicians had responded. Two of them just agreed with my concerns but did not actually answer the question. It was pure flannel and none of us had the chance to comment.

What surprised me even more was how good I thought the Labour candidate (Dr Starkey) was because she actually answered every question and said what Labour's policies were on each issues. Even one of my facebook friends made the same point after she watched it on TV. What I also liked about her was her conviction that we need to move to a proportional representation system and the reasons why we had not in this current parliament. My concern is that many of Gordon Brown's responses to the Economic Crisis have been either too little too late or completely the wrong thing to do so overall the country needs a new direction. It is all so difficult. Do you vote for the credible individual whom you know would be a good constituency MP or the Party.

In reflection it makes me realise that it is all about how a person makes you feel. I sensed Dr Starkey's commitment and passion for what she does whereas I felt in different ways the other two were playing a game, saying whatever they needed to say in order to get elected. As for the broader issue, it made me realise how much the professionals practise so that when the camera is rolling they are in role, whereas us members of the Public who have agreed to step forward or just thrust into the limelight and expected to deliver anyway. Is it any wonder therefore that Politics today is so full of spin. Instinctively we decide whether someone is trustworthy within a blink of an eye which means that first impressions do matter and so in this media-savvy world those who have to go in front of the camera are polished because they have spent hours getting just the right tone! So what do you think? Do leave me a comment.

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