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It happens, sometimes …

Elaine Smith on a rare but fascinating phenomenon

Just occasionally, and not often – when tuned to the television or radio broadcasting media – the viewer or listener gains the sense that he or she is being exposed to something ‘live’ on air which might possible later make a news story of its own.

I’ve had two such examples in the past week.

In the first, James Landale, a top BBC political reporter, contributed a piece on Wednesday 18th December to the BBC London local early-evening television news programme at 6.30pm. He had been out in the high street of Richmond-upon-Thames, recording some representative ‘vox pop’ interviews on the subject of Sir Howard Davies’ chaired interim report on the future of British commercial aviation – and specifically, the surprise that two of the three short-list solutions mentioned involved Heathrow, the one airport that prime minister David Cameron had promised the electorate would not be expanded in the 2010-2015 parliament.

winklerSaid ‘vox pop’ exercise passed without incident until the reporter’s third or fourth such interview, which took place with a small, dumpy middle-aged American man outside the House of Fraser department store.

Contrary to previous speakers, he said he was completely unconcerned about the prospect of greater Heathrow flight traffic, commenting that he had no problem with the sound of aeroplanes passing overhead.

A completely unremarkable interview, you might think, save for the fact that I had instantly noticed who the American interviewee was – unlike poor James Landale.

It was Henry Winkler – formerly famous for his character The Fonz in the US hit series Happy Days – who was about to appear as Captain Hook at Richmond Theatre pantomime over the festive season. Something of a classic encounter, I feel …


The second took place on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 22nd December.

Amongst the guests on the show who gathered on the sofa as the programme drew to a close shortly before 10.00am were Vince Cable (Coalition business minister), Peter Mandelson, impressionist Rory Bremner and Coalition defence minister Anna Soubry.

soubryAs they chatted politely with Marr, Bremner did a brief impression of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, whereupon La Soubry commented mischievously to the effect that – for her – Farage tended to look as if he had just had a finger shoved up his bottom.

Cue stunned fellow guests and Marr.

“Are you allowed to say that?” enquired the surprised Bremner as Mandelson and Cable tried to steer a course between polite indifference and hysteria.

“She just did” responded Marr, before seeking to swiftly move the conversation on to other things.




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About Elaine Smith

A single mother of a teenager, Elaine will be filing reports from the family battlefront. More Posts