THE tennis circus has moved on and it’s back to my usual job as London Editor and TV Editor of the Manchester Evening News. As you can see, we’ve also decided to move on – from Wylie’s Wimbledon to The Life of Wylie. Who thinks these titles up? That’s because the online team at the M.E.N. believe, for reasons best known to themselves, that you might be interested in the occasional insight into my working life. So shall we start with the 24 hours which ended at 11pm last night? Right, then. I’ll be asking questions later.
11pm Wed: Arrive home from Dancing In The Streets, the now touring celebration of Motown and one of Kew Gardens’ Summer Swing shows. There’s one review highlighted in the official programme: “If you want a cracking night out, great songs, this show is a must.” Manchester Evening News. Check emails and online page proofs of tomorrow’s 6am M.E.N. first edition. Bed just before midnight.
4.30am Thu: Not exactly dancing in the streets as my alarm goes off. More a case of What’s Going On?
5.35am: Mini cab arrives – too early to rely on a tube to Euston station.
5.46am: Stop In The Name Of Love…or in this case, a police patrol car. The shirt-sleeved officer inside pulls my driver over in Marylebone Road and warns him about speeding. Eventually arrive at Euston, which is always virtually deserted at this time of the morning.
6.20am. The first northbound Virgin Pendolino of the day leaves for Manchester Piccadilly. Settle down to read the papers and catch up with some work on the laptop.
8.47am: My train arrives one minute early. Need to be at film and TV studios near Bolton by 9.30am, so no option but to jump in another cab.
9.30am: On set with the cast and crew of New Street Law, currently filming a second series of the BBC1 legal drama. A location day like this, which can be anywhere in the country, is just one way of getting access to the stars for feature interviews which will eventually appear on the TV pages. The new series isn’t due to be seen on screen until this autumn, so most of the material will be held until then. I was here back in February and watched the entire first series, so know the production well. The ratings were disappointing but there are high hopes for this revamped second run. Actors become available for a chat as and when their scenes allow.
Over the course of several hours, obtain good interviews with – in order of appearance – Chris Gascoyne (clerk Al Ware), Susie Amy (new character Tessa), John Hannah (head of chambers Jack Roper), Lara Cazalet (barrister Annie Quick), Penny Downie (barrister Honor Scammel), Lisa Faulkner (barrister Laura Scammel) and John Thomson (barrister Charlie Darling). Several interesting stories, which I’ll save for another day.
The sun is streaming down outside but we’re stuck inside what is, effectively, a huge warehouse, transformed by the magic of television into various sets, including a court building and two lots of Manchester chambers. Cast, crew and the rest of the production staff work very long days and haven’t seen much of the summer. But don’t feel too sorry for them. The end of filming is now just a matter of weeks away and holidays are being planned. Several cast members are thinking of taking a cruise off Hawaii or the Caribbean.
3.20pm: Get a lift back to Deansgate and pop into the M.E.N. office for a few hours. Our new building next door will be ready for occupation later this year. The current HQ will then be demolished.
5.35pm: Set off to walk across the city centre back to Piccadilly. Good to see plenty of people reading the paper. Will try and think of that next time the 4.30am alarm goes off.
6.16pm: The 1815 for London Euston leaves one minute late. If you’re a regular Pendolino traveller, you’ll know how obsessed you can become with time. Or is it just me? Too tired to focus on any more work. Buy a sandwich plus a bottle of water and enjoy the view.
8.38pm: Now what was that about being obsessed? Oh, yes. Train arrives at Euston six minutes late. Walk down to the underground. Spot several people on their way back from the first day of the Lord’s Test Match. One, in particular, appears to have taken a little too much refreshment. Or perhaps he’s been out in the sun too long. Whatever. He now looks clean bowled.
9.30pm: Arrive home. Time to relax. Then I remember the pile of post that has arrived in my absence and the emails to be checked and replied to.
11pm. As Motown’s “The Four Tops” sang at Kew just over 24 hours ago, it’s time to “Reach Out” – for the duvet. Fall asleep within seconds.
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