It's all done by Mirrors



If you’ve ever watched the local news on ITV, you may have wondered why some news items cover an area far wider than the southern area mapped out by the BBC. I too thought this rather odd until I went on a visit with nine other members of U3A Quester10 to the ITV studios in Whiteley near Fareham.

It turns out that this innocent looking modern office building houses a team of professionals who cover an area stretching from Dorset in the west to Kent in the east and up as far as Oxfordshire in the north. Three separate local news programmes are produced every weekday to cover this large area – and all are hosted by the same two presenters. It is at first a puzzle as to how three programmes, all broadcast at six o’clock, can be introduced by the same people. It only became clear when we saw how two of the three programmes are recorded earlier that afternoon, leaving only one of them going out live.

Sometimes two of the three areas have a common story and in those instances transmission comes together at a pre-arranged time with recorded news changing to a live presentation. It all necessitates complex scheduling, split second timing and a team of around ten people working feverishly behind the scenes during the broadcast to make sure it all goes without a hitch.

So when a presenter says “Joining us in the studio we have Mr X ….” Mr X is probably miles away, having recorded his contribution earlier that afternoon. Even the weather girl records her presentations of maps and charts in advance, calmly remaining seated in her studio chair whilst the forecast is transmitted. Yes, it’s all done by mirrors but with such precision that you really cannot be sure if what you see at home is live or recorded. It all feels live - and maybe that’s what matters.


Vernon Tottle