TRICKS OF THE TRADE

1: HOW TO READ THE NEWS; INTERVIEW WITH PETER DONALDSON Chief Announcer on Radio 4. A former actor, he reads the news on R4's bulletins and 'Today'
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Radio newsreading has hardly changed over the 25 years I've been with the BBC, though it has become more accessible. We still read off the page and there is surprisingly little technology in the studio, just microphones. There are no computers and we wear headphones, not earpieces. I sit in a small studio for bulletins and a much larger one for the Today programme, since we are with other presenters and guests.

Just before I go on air the adrenalin flows and the armpits tingle - as long as that happens I know I'm in the right job. Newsreading takes lots of practice. One needs a lot of wind. You breathe from your diaphragm rather than your throat (that's how I justify the shape I am). To fluff is absolutely human. On Black Wednesday I said, "In the shitty ... er... city, share prices have fallen". I got two letters to say how right I was. I didn't dare look up at the producers but I could feel the glass vibrating with laughter.

We don't write our own material, but in between programmes a good newsreader spends as much time as possible in the newsroom. If you don't understand what is being said on the page then there is no way you can impart that information.

If we're stuck for a pronunciation, then one of the team will check it out for us. The current dispute is Althorp. Earl Spencer wishes it to be known as All-thrup, and though the BBC's Pronunciation Unit have been aware of that for years a decision was taken to call it All-thorp - to be consistent with ITN.

We don't have to wear suits. More often than not it's shirt sleeves and a tie, and that's out of courtesy for the guests who are coming in. Announcers used to wear a dinner jacket - I'm quite relieved that I don't have to do the same.

The BBC also has the unique facility of having a pronunciation unit. I'm a complete newsaholic and when I've finished a day's news I will watch the nine and 10 o'clock news, watch Newsnight and if I'm still awake I will even try and catch some at midnight.

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