Daughters let loose at Auntie's: Marianne Macdonald joins 830 adolescent 'Kate Adies' for a day at the BBC

The labyrinthine corridors of Auntie BBC echoed to giggles yesterday as hundreds of teenage girls trooped into its studios for Take Our Daughters to Work day.

Dressed almost without exception in jeans, waistcoats and heavy lace-up boots, the 830 daughters, mostly of BBC staff with a few girls from local schools, had turned up to learn how to become Kate Adie and Anna Ford. It proved harder than it looked.

Whoops] Filming each other on the Newsround balcony, the camera kept tilting backwards so their faces slid off the monitor. Then the sun came out and the exposure went into the stratosphere.

It was worse when they put the camera on their shoulders, their legs buckling under its weight. 'John Major would have had a cup of tea and left for Chequers by the time you got your camera running,' Deidre the camerawoman briskly told 11-year- old Hannah Cramer, daughter of Chris, the head of news gathering.

For the diminutive reporters, hidebound with adolescent self-consciousness, looking into the lens was a near-impossibility. The rapt audience watching the monitors burst into piping titters as first Teresa, then Joanna, delivered their lines to the floor or stared over the White City rooftops, in west London, into the middle distance.

The group of teenagers let loose on an afternoon news summary at television centre had further treats in store for their parents. As the newscaster Jennie Bond read the news the camera started wobbling in the most alarming way, while her voice was inexplicably cut off mid-sentence as the pint-sized engineers grappled with the complexities of the engineering suite.

Hailed as a way to encourage teenage girls, who often lose confidence between the ages of 11 and 15, to think of entering high-profile organisations, the organisers had failed to make allowances for the problems this could cause even those with a keen desire to be in the media. As they watched their pieces to camera, the teenagers squeaked and hung their heads. 'Oh my God,' Anna Fletcher- Smith, 12, wailed in despair. 'I look terrible.'

Leading article, page 17

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