A reader just emailed to ask what happens before and after the Andrew Marr show, so I thought I'd share a few backstage secrets with you.
When you do the paper review they normally send you the papers the night before to prepare properly. However, as I live in Kent I said not to bother (ever mindful of the need to save licence fee payers' money!) and I'd arrive a bit earlier. Anyway, when the alarm went off at 6am, I did wonder why I was doing it. I arrived at TV Centre at 7.45 and was taken up to the green room with Caroline Lucas, where we started trawling through the papers. Andrew Marr and his producer Barney Jones were already there. I remember when I last did the paper review in 2003 when David Frost was presenting the programme that Frosty didn't turn up until a quarter of an hour before the programme was due to start. Andrew Marr has a more hands on approach.
Caroline and I each chose five stories (although we only got through three on the show) which the ever attendant researcher Ajay then marked up. When I do a paper review I normally underline the important bits of the story and write a few notes in the margins, but on this programme you have to hold the paper up to the camera so you're not supposed to write on the newspaper. At about 8.30 we were taken to makeup - they always spend far longer making up women, I find. I was done in about 1 minute flat. Perfect skin, you see :)
By this time Jeremy Irons, George Osborne and Billy Bragg had arrived too. Alistair Darling arrived at the last minute, and at 8.50 we were taken down to the studio and mic-ed up. One trick I have learned is that sometimes the back of your jacket can ride up and look very odd, so the way to avoid it is to sit on the bottom of your jacket. It's a bit uncomfortable but stops you looking a dick.
Osborne and Darling were brought into the studio to sit next to each other at the top of the programme (although on screen they looked separate) and were then wheeled off again while the paper review was taking place.
Caroline kicked off with the 10 tax story and I then talked about 42 days terror detention, making the point that a wise general doesn't fight on two fronts at the same time. We had a bit of gentle banter about the Tories' green credentials but after ten minutes it was all over - was it really ten minutes? Seemed like two! I then got whisked off to do a piece on News 24 (which is tomorrow being renamed BBC News) on the political stories of the day. Afterwards I returned to the green room and had a chat with Jeremy Irons. What a nice guy. He's playing Harold Macmillan in a play at the National Theatre at the moment.
The great thing about the Andrew Marr programme is the post match breakfast. When David Frost was presenting it the breakfast took place in the BBC Boardroom. Nowadays it's eaten in the staff canteen, but very enjoyable it is too.
Anyway, if you'd like to watch the programme click HERE. My bit is about ten minutes into the programme.