Gardeners’ Question Time Christmas broadcast


Eric Robson at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Eric Robson at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

I’ve listened to BBC Gardeners’ Question Time for years, so when recently asked by Gardeners’ World Magazine to photograph the Christmas recording, I really looked forward to a behind the scenes view of how the show was put together. It was also the first time they had all panelists together for one broadcast.

Gardeners' Question Time panelists during a briefing before recording the 2010 Christmas programme

Gardeners' Question Time panelists during a briefing before recording the 2010 Christmas programme

Briefing before the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Briefing before the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording, with Matt Biggs and Bob Flowerdew in the foreground

The production company’s office is located in a small side road near Old Street Tube station, and like many London streets, the building numbering is a bit haphazard.  Whilst checking the address on my phone, I was approached by a very nice man who asked me, “Are you looking for something else.” Previous experience has taught me not to hang around in situations like this, but strangely, I found myself saying, “Yes.”

“I thought so,” he replied,  “I could see your tripod – you need the first door on the right.”

Somethin’ Else produces several radio programmes including GQT, and is involved with many other media activities too –  so  lost photographers in Brunswick Place must be a regular occurrence.

studio at the Christmas 2010 GardeneThe studio during the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recordingrs' Question Time recording

The studio during the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Some of the GQT team I had photographed before – either for magazine features or for my 43 Gardeners’ Hands project, so I knew them to say hello to – a useful icebreaker when shooting reportage pics. The only problem was the noise of my camera – I think it was expected that the occasional clack of the shutter and mirror would disappear into  the background chatter. Obviously the sound technician was hearing something much closer to a rifle shot, so I had a tap on the shoulder from from Howard Shannon, the producer, who asked me to wait for breaks. I think every whisper could be heard. In all the behind the scenes shoots I did for Top Gear, I was never asked to stop during filming. Perhaps it was just the noisy cars!

Christine Walkden, Bunny Guinness and Chris Beardshaw at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Christine Walkden, Bunny Guinness and Chris Beardshaw

Chris Beardshaw and Christine Walkden the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Chris Beardshaw and Christine Walkden the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Bob Flowerdew trialing some grapes with Rosie Yeomans at the 2010 Christmas recording of Gardeners' Question Time

Bob Flowerdew trialing some grapes with Rosie Yeomans

Pippa Greenwood and Anne Swithinbank at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Pippa Greenwood and Anne Swithinbank

What seemed to differ with a TV recording is the speed in which it was done, and how few breaks there were. It was finished in around 90 minutes, with large chunks recorded ‘live’, and not many stops for errors. Eric Robson controlled the discussion with the panelists like a conductor, with answers to questions unscripted, and a queue to respond. There was a genuine air of fun which interesting to watch. The programme will be broadcast on 26th December 2010 at 1400.


Comments (4)

  1. The Constant Gardener

    Brilliant! I’ve always wondered what they looked like when they were recording. I’m very surprised to see they do some of it standing up (love those old radio mikes) – must be most uncomfortable over such a long time. My mental picture was far closer to that shot of Anne and Pippa 😀

    Reply
    • Paul Debois

      It’s possible the outside broadcasts are less formal. But I thought it was recorded in the same way as the black and white 1950’s and 1960’s broadcasts I’ve seen on Tv – the Goons comes to mind – though no one was standing in a dustbin!

      Reply
  2. Arabella Sock

    Those are the absolute best pictures of Bob Flowerdew et al and Chris Beardshaw with Christine Walkden. I saw them on a link on twitter and thought for a moment they were ones I could grab for my blog and put amusing captions on but sadly saw your copyright. Probably just as well – the pictures speak for themselves without the need for captions. Fantastic!

    Reply
    • Paul Debois

      Hi Arabella,

      Thanks for the comments! I think they work because they were taken on the fly. All were grabbed shots in the few breaks during recording. I like working this way.

      Reply