Monday 1 February 2016

10 Things I Learned During My First TV Interview

After the article about us being a vegan family appeared in the Metro last week, I got an email from an Australian breakfast TV show asking if I’d agreed to be interviewed. Sadly, they weren’t offering to fly me out to Australia, but I figured it might be worth doing anyway. I’ve never given a TV interview before, and if I ever decide to step back into my previous life as a charity campaigner, it would be useful experience to have. Also, I’m really terrible at interviews so the thought of it only appearing on Australian TV was quite appealing. I once did such a bad radio interview that I shouted at the presenter. It’s safe to say, I’m better on paper.

The show organised studio hire at Media City and the interview was pre-recorded on Saturday night. Here are some things I learnt about doing television:

1. Morning sickness lasts all day
I started throwing up at about lunch time on Saturday. I’ve basically thrown up every single food item that’s passed my lips over the past week or two. I spent most of the afternoon in bed, smelling of vomit, wishing I hadn’t agreed to go on TV. I bought some polos to take with me because last week they were helping to stop the nausea. This is not the case anymore. The polos were way too minty and made me feel even worse. I was really thirsty (side effect of all the vomiting), but every sip of water felt like a risk. There was a 40% chance I would throw up on Australian breakfast TV and ruin the reputation of vegans everywhere. Luckily, it didn’t happen, but it really could have.

2. Going to the BBC is really exciting
The email sent to the BBC to book the studio said, “The talent’s name is Fiona Peacock”. Talent, yeah. There was a pass with my name on it. It was exciting, but I played it cool in front of the security guards. The BBC studios are a lot like the studies in W1A (is that what that television show is called? The one after 2012?). There are weird circles with two chairs facing each other, they look like the setting of the world’s most awkward meeting. Nobody was sitting in them. There were a lot of screens. My dad told me I would probably be in a booth, he is an old hand at TV interviews, so I was expecting a crappy little room. Er, I don’t think so. It was a big fancy studio they use for, maybe, North West Tonight or something. I had a desk on which to place the water that was making me want to hurl, a chair on which to place my sweating butt, and a camera to awkwardly avoid eye contact with. So. Exciting.

3. You shouldn’t wear tight dresses to go on TV
Dressing for TV is probably always tricky, but it’s way harder when you’re 12 and a half weeks pregnant and fit into approximately none of your clothes. Most of my pre-pregnancy dresses are, erm, way too tight around the best, and I figured that’s the sort of thing viewers might notice. My maternity clothes are way too big, so I was left with just one dress to choose from. It’s a nice dress, but it has a tight band above the waist. This is fine until you have to try and pass a massive microphone through it in front of a stranger. Awkward.

4. Having an ear piece is the most fun thing ever
Wearing an earpiece was really fun. Like, I was a news reader or some kind of television presenter. For a while before the interview, even though I knew the technician could see me, I kept pushing it into my ear and practising my listening face. I figure the technician must see over excited interviewees all the time. I’m not letting pretending to be cool come between me and my only chance to pretend to be a TV presenter.

5. Sometimes TV presenters don’t know you can hear them
They had technical difficulties, which meant I was sat waiting for about half an hour before the interview. During this time, I could hear everything the hosts were saying. I can tell you that the male host likes to make sexual jokes about his microphone and that he’s really not on board with vegetarianism, nevermind veganism. Why would vegetarians want to eat fake meat that tastes like meat? Hahahaha. [In case you are also that ridiculous, it’s because vegetarians don’t stop eating meat because they hate the taste. It’s because they don’t want to eat animals, they might bloody love the taste. So a nice vegetarian burger that tastes like meat is right up their alley. Simple, yeah?] They were reading the article on the Metro and had stumbled across this story which they thought was the funniest thing ever (it totally is).

6. There was ‘staggering criticism’ to the Metro article
This is what the presenters said, and I’m not sure it’s really true. I mean, there were comments of course, from douchebags, but who doesn’t expect that? I saw the post shared in a lot of vegan groups, and the most critical comment I read was, “They seem to eat a lot of soya.” It cut deep. I’m assuming that’s what they what the hosts were referring to when they talking about criticism.

7. I have a northern accent
I never really hear myself, so it was a bit weird to suddenly hear my accent. It’s less Burnley than it once was, but it’s still pretty damn Burnley.

8. I should probably look at the camera more
I think I looked slightly crazy in the interview because I kept looking off to the side. This is probably because staring into a camera is terrifying. I couldn’t see the presenters, but I knew they could see me. That’s an unfair power balance. At the end of each answer, I tried to smile at the camera and each and every time ended up pulling the most mental face ever. So bad, in fact, that they cut it out of the segment by plastering a photo on the screen each time I finished a sentence. That’s how scary my nervous smile is.

9. I should have worn lip gloss
I thought lip gloss might look a bit much for breakfast TV. People would be hungover in their pyjamas, and there I would be like some cheap vegan hooker staring out at them from the TV. I thought lip balm was the way forward. But, I have now learnt, if you are drinking water whilst trying not to puke for 30 minutes before an interview, the lip balm disappears by the time you answer your first question. Next time, I’m going to wear all the lip gloss and I’m not even going to apologise if my hair gets stuck to it.

10. Even if you think people won’t see it, they will
The main reason I agreed to do it, was because I thought nobody I knew would see it. I figured it was a cheat first chance at a TV interview. I’d get to experience a TV interview without having to experience the humiliation of everyone seeing it. Remember, I once shouted at a radio presenter about my rabbits, so I didn’t really have high hopes for the interview. The problem with social media is, everything is bloody accessible to everyone now. So within hours of the video being uploaded, I’d been tagged and the video had been shared by people I know. Actually, it was ok because I didn’t shout at the hosts or vomit or look like too much of a tit. Just a bit of a tit, but that’s ok, right?

So, since it’s already out there, here you go. My first TV interview, it’s not very good, but remember, I didn’t shout about rabbits…:

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