I work for Trevor McDonald
Pauline Heard is PA to the newscaster
Wednesday 02 July 1997
I arrive between 9.30am and 10am and my first job is to liaise with the network via a conference call to schedule in the night news bulletins by finding a time that suits everyone. Then I go through the newscasters' post and diaries and usually have lunch at my desk. Trevor arrives at around noon and I sit opposite him, which means we are in constant communication. Even when he's away, as he has been now, broadcasting from Hong Kong, I speak to him via the computer. In the afternoon we go through his post, which usually consists of requests for interviews or appearances, followed by dictated letters from Trevor. People often write in with invitations, adding that they can get him back in time for the News at Ten. They don't seem to realise that Trevor's job involves quite a bit more than just turning up to read the news. He works very hard, including having meetings throughout the day to discuss what is to be featured on the programme and reading up on the stories of the day.
People send in all kinds of things including birthday cards to be signed and other odd requests, like the Toby Jug company which wanted permission to do one of Trevor. But the strangest request recently arrived from a consultant doctor who wanted Trevor to send massages of encouragement to his group of incontinent female patients. Apparently the ladies had been asked to think of someone they all admired when doing their exercises which resulted in the call to "Tighten for Trevor". I have to confess to being completely gobsmacked by this letter but it demonstrates that Trevor is quite a role model among the elderly as well as the young. At this time of year we get a lot of interview requests from students and since we couldn't fit all of them in individually, I hit upon the idea of holding mini press conferences with groups of them which is good practice both for them and for Trevor. I also take groups of school children round the newsroom and studio from time to time.
Trevor is a very gentle man, both caring and sympathetic, which makes him a joy to work for. When I was in hospital for three weeks he came to visit me every morning and he treats me as one of the family, which in a sense I am. He never refers to me as his PA; he calls me his colleague, which I very much appreciate. He is also easy-going and easy to talk to. Trevor and I tend not to discuss the news stories, although there are ones which are clearly upsetting to both of us, particularly if they involve children, since Trevor has a young son. But we can have a laugh at the "and finally ..." stories.
I have no input on the studio floor apart from discussing whether a programme went well and offering advice to Trevor about his ties, of which he has hundreds. He dresses immaculately, but occasionally I tell him I'm not too keen on a particular colour combination. We also have a twice weekly ritual when I buy both of our lottery tickets - I dare not miss one. We still laugh at Rory Bremner's sketch of Trevor reading out the lottery numbers and gradually realising that they were his own.
The telephone doesn't stop ringing and I often don't leave work until about 7.30pm. All kind of people call with queries, from ordinary folk to ambassadors, MPs, showbiz personalities, leading business people and all those involved in the Better English Campaign, of which Trevor is president. Phone manner is one of the principal skills needed for my job, but I like chatting with people on the phone whoever they are. One also needs to be diplomatic about some of the weirder requests. Recently I organised two big memorial services for former newscasters which was a little frightening responsibility-wise because of the number of people involved.
Unfortunately I'm not allowed to travel with Trevor but I do get invited to some of the functions and celebrations. One of the best moments of my career was the night when both Trevor and my husband won national TV awards. My husband is production manager for The Bill, which won best drama, and Trevor won an award for most popular newscaster. I was back- stage jumping up and down for joy. Trevor gave me a special mention in his acceptance speech which showed what a kind person he is.
I like not knowing what the day has in store as well as working for people I'm fond of. I'm too outspoken to stand working for someone difficult and I'm sure I'm seen as a bit of a dragon at times. I think I will stay on here until they don't want me any moren
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