Forgive me if my blog lacks its usual pizzazz and sparkle this week. The truth is that I feel physically and emotionally drained after spending a week staring at golfers miss-hitting shots over and over and over again. Although it’s easy enough to smile the first time by the 16th you would rather be explaining to the club captain how your sliced drive off the first dented his Mercedes SL than watch it again. But watch it again is what you have to do because that’s how it is when you’re making television programmes.
Sometimes when I’m writing I mess up a sentence and start again. I didn’t that time, although you, of course, can’t tell and therefore have to trust me. Occasionally I mess up a second time and start yet again. But if I mess it up a third time I give up and go away to do something useful like sort out my tee pegs by size and colour. That’s how it is with writing, but that’s not how it is with television. Being a much more complicated medium, television involves all sorts of clever technology that can do all sorts of wondrous things but not necessarily the first time or the second time or the third time. By about the ninth time you begin to wonder if it will ever manage it and by the 26th time you don’t really care.
I like writing because I like words and enjoy putting them into some sort of order so that they make some sort of sense, convey an idea and, who knows, possibly make you chuckle. That gives me a buzz that is almost as thrilling as chipping dead from off the green. Television, too, entertains but it requires dozens of people, banks of equipment and more patience than is needed to play 36 holes behind a group of Germans with handicaps averaging more than 40. (Incidentally, I messed up that last sentence the first time but then more or less got it right second time.)
Regulars may recall that I went to the Algarve a couple of weeks ago as a member of the TV crew filming the Henry Cooper/Mike Reid Charity Golf Classic for Sky Sports. As well as interviewing the celebrities in this genuinely fun event, I was making my debut as a TV producer. Poncing about behaving like I imagine TV producers behave was great fun. With earphones on and carrying a clipboard, even Stephen Spielberg might have thought that I knew what I was doing.
The tough bit came later. As far removed from the Portuguese sunshine as it’s possible to be, in other words in a darkened edit suite in deepest Scotland, I and my good friend and co-producer Gordon had to take the hundreds of hours of what we in showbiz call ‘footage’, extract the interesting bits and weave them together in a logical and coherent way so as to make an entertaining, 90-minute programme. That sounds relatively easy until you take into account all the other complicated technical and non-technical factors that somehow conspire to transform the seemingly simple exercise into a gruelling marathon.
The final tweaks are being applied as I write and you can decide when the programme is transmitted on Sky Sports on July 7th and 8th whether I have wasted a fortnight of my life or should be considering relocating to Hollywood. And now, if you’ll forgive me, I must catch up on my sleep. (Sorry, can we do that again, there’s a problem with the aghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!).