A friend left the Beeb recently. She had been in this madhouse for thirty-six years ― a lifetime, because each year at the Beeb ages you two years in the outside world. Like the American trucker who drove around with only one side of his face in the sun.
In the old days, when the place had the whole job-for-life thing going (now gone completely), you would have a staff pass and an ID number.
Mine, for example, is 272628A. Even if I plunge into Alzheimers in old age and forget who I am, forget who my kids are, forget where I keep my shoes and which end of the house the garden is, I will still know that number.
When my friend left (her name was Sue), we had a party where we showed her all the staff photos in her file. Again, sign of a changing Beeb: they might take one every fifteen years now. But Sue had eighteen! They showed her working life from start to finish.
Okay. So some of mine are above.
The top left one was interesting. I was on the Today programme as a reporter. It was taken between two items, I recall: I had come back from a trip to Russia, and was being sent down to Dorset to do a report about sheep racing. Serious, then light. I remember thinking that summed up the reporter’s life: range.
Then I became a presenter. Although initially, not a very good one.
Crikey. This is the ultimate collector’s item. Here I was in 2000, starting on Newsnight as the “other Jeremy.” Nightmare! In my book I wrote about the horror of being Paxman’s double, mini-me, whatever you want to call it. What I love in this photo is Kirsty’s expression. It reminds me of the Liberal Party campaign poster in 1979:
Next came Radio 2. “Don’t wear a suit,” they said. So someone found a Joy Division T-shirt. Now on the face of it, this was a stunning idea. I love Joy Division, whose gloomy sound defined my teenage years. But this T-shirt was ironed. Somebody ironed a Joy Division T-shirt! Can’t be right, can it? The result:
Loads of other pics followed. Take a look below and I will let you guess which smiles were genuine, and which were “I can’t do this for much longer because I remembered it’s my wedding anniversary and I promised to cook” smiles.
Suffice to say that after more than a quarter of a century at the Beeb, I was a little reluctant to go looking for too many more of these snaps. They carry a rather painful reminder of the passage of time.