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Read this: The Secret Life of the Continuity Announcer

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The Secret Life of the Continuity Announ…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 hello today on the show where celebrating a group of people with whom you'll be very familiar but may not know anything about Jennifer gate one of the children's iron oz of the next few minutes.

I'd like to see some of the children's programmes what you doing stop it.

I want to wear that two forces wives in the kitchen for Ready Steady Cook in 45 minutes are on BBC2 after Paul Martin and his large organ that is excessive alcohol consumption and drugs this flirting there a fight I miss Office Christmas parties fabulous.

Is a continuity announcers over the Decades but who are the people behind them as well find out there's a lot more 2 continuity announcers than talking between programs, but what's their future to go the same way? I'm joined by five towering figures whose Dulcet Tones resound in homes across the country Duncan newmarch is an announcer for BBC1 and BBC2 Andrea fox works on ITV Gino Gallagher announces for Channel 4 Film4 James Steel is an announcer a newsreader on BBC Radio 4 and David Allen was for many years a very recognisable Voice on BBC One and welcome to you all and thank you at such a treat to have you on the programme.

I'd like to start by asking each of you in one sentence.

How would you sum up the role of a continuity announcer David well, we're also to move friendly eloquent if possible but not too familiar with brief we got so that's what we like to sing.

I was talking to one or two people.

Television set watching a program a bit difficult sometimes when there's a huge audience what she get that was the role more like a guy in the evening being people down tell him what's going to happen make them feel captain making people feel relax with the programs and hopefully they will enjoy them and sentence.


I think as well as dealing breaking news and schedule changes and all of that we are that friend watching the telly with you keeping you company telling you what you might enjoy later telling you what you might have missed my husband when I met him, had my voice recorded in his TV introducing recorded when I met his grandmother as well dementia at the time but she said the first thing she said to me was how many got a lovely voice and she had Coronation Street blaring out of 85 spoken to thousands of times, so yeah definitely is David said friend watching telly with you.

I think do you know is that how you say yes for sure with a friend that guide you to all the great Elle the things we think you're going to.

And was going to let you know if anything were there beside you as well to guide you through it Duncan I agree with that.

I think particularly in the last couple of years will be reminded to good people watch TV alone and in many cases we could be one of the few people who are actually talking one-on-one to that person so absolutely friendship is the secret if there is well.

What's your secret is about talking to people and it's funny cos it's anonymous, so we're just every man every woman talking to everybody and I think with radio particularly your often aware that you might be talking to somebody when they're in bed even and you're just avoiding they're here next to him on the head on the pillow talking on TV or radio for a living sounds like something a lot of people might want to try let's start with you Gina because did you always know you wanted to be a continuity announcer?

Well, I think my family will probably say this I always wanted to talk and I love the sound of my own voice for probably photo terms like that, but yeah, I kind of I should have fell into it really wants to do writing and I was interested in creative writing and I had done my degree in English literature and things like that sort of golf and done my masters and in film and you know I want to be a screenwriter really and I have to start as a runner and making tea for people and things like that very often though.

It's turned up.

I have to announce 200 people audience members who were going in and I tell him about you not turning off her phone's and things like that.

It was really good fun and I think I was able to sort of give quite a lot of sort of serious kind of health and safety topics and deal with those quite quickly and quite you know kind of with a little bit of fun.

Look at Me Now from the theatre, how did you end up in continuity long story I got some radio and did a stint on TV continuity for Anglia Television and then saw an advert in the stage for BBC2 and ounces incredibly I heard later.

They only have 20 applicants.

Can you think I got the job for me that gave for week's trial and we took it for now as a long time? Shall I put on any permanent basis? You have to try at technical things to learn at the BBC out totally floored Mia and number of my colleagues have no idea when I went to that.

It would just be talking part of the day.

Output for the channel went through the continuity test so you have to line up with programs you had to queue in the program to talk at the same time phased them in and out of love explain that before but luckily I have this background the theatre and it works but join the evening with network directors things to help the during the day.

It was a solo effort to pull everything together send shot on the 9th and what skills these days.

Do you need to be a good announcer presumably? You're not you know doing the technical and quite the way that David was was was there the line of people in the production studio controlling the Sound and Vision doing the timings and one side of the glass and then somebody who's responsible from the amount of point of view for me personally.

I think you've already touched on is a big thing with also creativity lots of people who come into the building.

What's the number of things like you sound s.

Where you live and do you do all this time? You only took this is the job that I want and of course the fact is the for a program if you take for example the line of duty final and announce it doesn't just say and then on BBC one.

Who's the final from 24-hours before will be starting to say it's this time tomorrow early in the morning.

He has a show that on later today in an hour or next and each of those needs a different line.

So you creativity particularly to introduce and talk about some of the shows that are on everyday like Bargain Hunt of the state of the country which are very similar.

What is program will have one special thing that sets it apart and it's down to you to find a new way to introduce that you are the only radio announcer on a panel that you've also works on TV Channel 4.

How does TV

In your job well, I think radio a lot more intimate because in a television studio when you doing television continuity you have the network directors and people outside Direction you and you run your script past the team to take everything you say in radio.

We're doing everything we do the technical side.

We sit in front of a mixing desk and we put ourselves on our and the programs on there and we write much longer is in script and sit there by ourselves and think about what would obviously keep our listeners or entice them to come back later, but we it's just us in the room talking to people in their rooms in their homes before we go further let's hear a little bit of ujjain in Action doing a morning shift of news reading alongside fellow Radio 4 announcer Neil Nunes TDL studio he was many many years and we loved him his portrait is inside and before.

Pattern and then freeze across the back is full of phrases that you're here a BBC continuity announcer say so you've got things like now the shipping forecast for the Arches and then there's our map of the shipping areas so when we read the shipping forecast we go clockwise around the British North-South Xperia southwesterly over here on this shelf is a pufferfish in a glass container that's been here since I've been here.

That's over 30 years used to be all the continents is back in the days.

When conduit look like a teenager's bedroom people would bring in things from their holidays and it stays there now on the bookshelf with as you see lots of dictionaries is Peugeot 204 pronouncing dictionary of British names we have all the different.

In front of Neil he's getting ready to take the network from this day program and then put me on here downstairs with the nine oclock news and then he'll introduce the first programme from Calne for the day the Pips that you're here.

So everything has to fit within a specific timeframe.

If it sounds like you're having a chat.

That's good however based on S let's do this one small make sure that it sticks within the lot of time considering forethought presented by Olly Murs and produced by Giles Edwards and you can find the full forward podcast now on BBC sounds the news just in case anything goes wrong downstairs.

And I'm going to speak to meal and play him my level meaning of volume down here tell the BBC they plan to vote against everything to check there's nothing there some trick me up for me.

I would start the day doing my script we have information from the marketing teams and the teams working on the dramas all the entertainment shows we also have access that ITV2 watch all the before they go out unless of course.

It's live and do you watch them all do you have time to watch them? All I would love to say what's not at least watch the first five minutes the last five minutes of everything and thoughts is it to how to

What's your you know you want to talk about me with the character.

That is seen first in Emmerdale Coronation Street in your intro and know what the Cliffhanger is that your ending on because maybe something that you write on the end credit menu.

It's going to look a bit jarring compared to whatever tense moment.

We leave a show with so I like to be aware of all of those we also get to see the end credits pictures, so what's going to be popping screen? Whilst I speak and that's really helpful because you know you want to make sure your referencing the right character The Rights you know the order of people that seem something referenced is that limited everyone's going to see when you speak.

We then have a read through wear anything.

That's too silly of mine in the scripts is taken out.

Have you ever had anything taken out the time in the Rita's that we do before well when we get to the Bruce when we're about to go live.

I like some sort of Christian belief a little bit and is it yourself or someone saying take it out no no no

Going yeah, I think we can we don't have to mention.

Where would have to include balls when Ian Wright's hosting a new game show Moneyball on ITV you know that you were gonna say that way you are you going to make it fun for everyone these read through I think about you when you're when the program is going out.

What are you doing? Are you watching along with a few? Are you reading a book a little bit of watching long for sure to make this following? What's happening in the program is especially as Andre mentioned when you coming up to the end of the program.

You want to be able to jump in with something.

That's quite sort of in town with what's just happened and especially programs like 24hrs in A&E and things like that.

We need to be mindful of how the end but yes in between we rehearsing and prepping for the next junction all the time.

We would rehearsed with our director transformation director.

They would kind of go through the the graphics as a gun repair on her and credit and nipping and talking as well of course at scripts to make sure that they're hitting times because you know we have her second.

Because we move on and you know nothing is worse than overlapping and you can still happen even with your view practice at several times, but that's what we're doing is your constantly prepping for that next junction in between the programs and making the activity of course for the most part.

It's nothing important always important Duncan how do you keep your writing fresh and you were saying about you know how it's the same price as you're trying to you.

No taizai for after how do you keep your writing fresh when the schedule similar from one day to the next does involve a bit of time because yes, there are some programmes with similar.

There's no point going on here and describing Bargain Hunt because we all have heard the rules of the show so for me.

Yes when I arrive to do an early morning shift and have breakfast at 6.

I've got 3 hours now to write all of the instructions for that morning so to introduce bargain hunting to find a different line means City

Watching the first few minutes.

If not a bit more and then just something will pop into your mind you'll see something go.

Yes ok and that's why you doing it you have to invest time and keep on going until you find the land it's going to work and you talk about creativity.

I believe he wants recorded an introduction to Doctor Who which included the voice of one of the Cybermen this is BBC1 and how did that come about enough to know the certain programs particularly something like Doctor Who is going to be League final episode and would know a few months in advance so I came up with this idea.

I'm going to be on that night.

So I was getting excited about it for you.

See it and we move it.

That particular episode so it was a simple case of coming up with some kind of wacky idea and an approaching the team saying that would you do this evening and in that case that we had the Cyberman voice deliver to us so I was reacting to this pre-recorded sound with the door smash sound effect in his made the wrong cameras in the Booth because yes, I'm literally reacting a pretending that and I'm on my own and Locker complete idiot David were you able to get creative like that with your script that creates strong team of editors and checking everything on BBC Two wheels, only had a leeway encouraged to maybe making comments about a program or when it finish something if you enjoyed it said you enjoyed it and then.

On BBC2 closedown where we have total free rein to close down how we like some people closed down with a poem and shows a piece of music 2nd evening on BBC2 sting after the the side roads of Shepherd's Bush so on behalf of all of the CIA working on the BBC Two at the television centre in London tonight.

It has remains me David Allen to thank you for your company and you have a good night.

Hope you'll be with us later on goodnight.

He's very nice touch the we did have a certain amount of control but not too much does a strong team get home see you did so you could move away too much when I first started at Radio 4.

We were told we could be ourselves that closed down and just speak of script as it were and I remember saying that's you lot of complaint said I expect you to say goodnight in a polite manner.

We had this woman the other night.

He's finished with that's a lot of your scripts in that kind of way, what's the most fun? You've had like when you have to introduce the show that may be introduced thousands of times.

I think that's where the creativity maybe work a little bit harder than those Big Show's Addams Family recently we had on at Halloween so I just started with durdham, and then went as well as technical any opportunity to everybody and you just have to pretend.

My head as well.

I really got into it there.

I was really you know really performing it is tonight at 9.

I'm telling you this sing a ball on Minogue we've always done bits and pieces on my colleagues technologies deliver quiz with all of our technical things.

He's done a great intro for humans which was kind of a drama that we had on yeah.

He's great for doing those kind of things and they said come up with this idea when I got my colleagues took over this idea for the kids because all of us were obviously kind of working at home secret life of 4 and 5-year olds ok my love.

Just 2 seconds to do this quickly ok.

We just tried to Intrigue as fun as it sounds I imagine that and dancing isn't the most sociable of jobs if you have to do the graveyard shift at radio for late evening on Christmas Day

You have drawn the shortest of short straws well.

It's notoriously the one that's most difficult to a staff though the latest on Christmas day.

People don't mind so much coming in and then bring up to go home and friends and family so but that one you know you have a sense of responsibility because if you're on and I was on Boxing Day late last year you are things that those people who might well be alone and cost in these times many many people are alone and so you do have that sense of responsibility that you're there with them and as I say we are literally in this little run slowly dim lighting sitting on our own and when ready for finishes at 1 we hand Radio 4 over to the world service and switch off the lights and go home, so there's this bit at the end where you 10-minutes of shipping forecast and and then you say goodnight to everyone and I think that's when I feel closest to the the people at home actually just I'm talking quietly into the area and I'm thing.

And we get under the last year on Boxing Day had a letter from somebody who was completely alone and they rodents said I was only one I heard you I made some comment to do with sailing by she said shall we sell away like that and then we play the music which always precedes the shipping forecast now.

Shall we set sail this item and said I was listening and thank you and it took me back to my childhood and I was transported and it was really lovely waiter and Christmas to you when I was younger.

I thought saying the things between the programs being it.

Just being invisible present.

I didn't think it was important until you realise you got a letter and important it is.

This is James Steel wishing you a restful night.

During the pandemic it's it's felt so important to be there in continuity2 that people can see there is some semblance of normal life going on you know we can still make you smile.

They're still comedy they'll still be music.

There'll still be us here talking to you and then use of course never have I felt it the responsibility of having the information and people desperately wanting to be informed and kept up-to-date it felt like a really special job this last two years because you know I think about those answers that came in usually doesn't answer during the war and actually that I never thought that would be the case now, but that we would ever it would have been that important again and suddenly it was and it was important for us to keep on coming in even though London was silent and the the streets were empty and walk out Broadcasting House Broadcasting House is empty like ghostly and and

Yeah, but you know the people at home depend on it absolutely Duncan Owen talking depressingly of kovid and a Christmas you know in 2020 your introduction to the final of Strictly Come Dance viral on Twitter that because you maybe because it came moments after the prime minister Boris Johnson announced that large gatherings over Christmas wouldn't be possible due to coronavirus.

Let's hear a clip flashing images in a year.

That's kept as a password.

Are you watching him Tyne and Wear Devon box Lincolnshire watching BBC One together tell us about that were you surprised by the reaction you got I remember being in the kitchen.

It was a week before the final and I'd already introduced the number of strictly finals before thinking.

What am I going to say this time that I haven't said before and came up with this idea for ok? That's going to work write it down.

Please fantastic.

So I was sat in the Booth

Saturday and that's when of course the prime minister announced.

It's Christmas wasn't going to be the Christmas window hopeful and it's mine which up until then had been a perfect introduction something seems to be the plate Leon usable so looking up thinking ok.

I've got about 45 minutes here.

We write this that's when the creativity and you have to have another ID as always got to be a second idea, so thinking while most of the country can't be together this Christmas but we are watching TV it seemed to make sense that wherever you were even if you were hundreds of miles apart.

We were still doing this one thing at the same time so the line went out and got a nice relaxing them David I saw you nothing that I mean you presumably through your illustrious career and the back in the 80s and 90s, but presumably broadcasting to some huge audiences.

Will you on shift for any?

The big TV moments presumably not quite as big as the prime minister cancelling Christmas on the moon and my BBC One when colour as on that night.

I can't remember said then something to do with colour Outdoors colourful evening.

I had something like this and nothing nothing quite as profound as the winner that we have heard already that things don't always run smoothly when you're a continuity announcer Andrew I think you had to deal with a technical issue in the semi-final of Britain's Got Talent came off due to a storm in 2018.

Let's hear how you responded well apologies, but we do a bit we having some issues bring you the live semi.

Britain's Got Talent away working on them and we hope to return at to studio as soon as possible you just sounds so amazingly car, but what was going on in your head at that point I wasn't but you can sort of fake it till you make it and very annoyed positions the panic is really happening in your headphones because it's not my job to fix it.

I don't even know what's gone wrong at that point on ITV we have sort of kind of Rules like always apologise always they were trying to work on the issue and keep talking basically and never promise that you're going to go back to the show because at that point we don't know what the issue is we will have to go to a standby Mabel have to go to a filler for a bit, but I think we did that night and thankfully.

I think we only missed about 6 minutes of the shows on at break and some judges comments so I think we still off are on time good work good David you must have dealt with your fair share of technical breakdowns back when shows rule on videotape.

Something go wrong in the evening certainly on BBC2 some minor hitch.

Do you really have to keep glued to the screen and the Secret really wants to get involved in the program.

So when it broke his first certain you could pick up as the viewer might say what a place to just about to find out turns and secret after that was to tell them exactly what was happening if you could technically the tapes broken and Kelly SR split or something we had a series of slides ready to put up with long break and suitable musically has a lot of music on finals course but the music was Keith play sometimes because you have a nice life nice piece of music in the programme relaxing as a cup of tea that sort of thing you on your toes.

Obviously, I have over time I was thinking very technical things only recently the my computer screen froze and I was battery the news and I I was sitting in the continuity and the News which we do sometimes and I couldn't see the news so I was coming up to 2 minutes and use with no news and I couldn't make the printer work at everything goes and there was one of you haven't answered Alan Smith was next door recording something for extra and I ran up and hammered on the glass between two Studios of course.

It's a gas.

So I don't know what I was doing because but my finger is movement he was a letter tomorrow because he said and I'm out that in help me he said he said after as we laugh.

I know what it would look like a woman in a glass tank that was filling with water and so I sat down and then had to force my voice into calm and finished with a play on and I finish with no that produced by a very very common and it went up to the pits and I could just play computer games gone very faint to see the top three paragraphs of the news and I read them and in my head.

I was sort of shrieking in my head when I heard it off was all you had with this excessively dead almost robotic voice when you're stressed introduced anyone wrong many many years ago is on and that was when Jonathan Dimbleby did it and I introduced him as David Dimbleby and how did that go down brother wants to be mixed up with their other brother?

What about you any any slips of the tongue anything wrong? I was going to ask this happened to good 2 years ago.

I used to work for RTE in Ireland the national broadcaster there sores on the kind of more youth oriented, but we still documentaries and interesting documentary geography and volcanoes and I don't quite know what happened even to stay I did get my PCs mixed up and I introduced as having a volcanic all the same national radio for remember looking through the glass actually see my director at bent over and they came up but I realise they were laughing so hard.

but luckily you don't know being noticed or nobody had taken the time to complain and I managed to get away with it until now directions in your career and then I thought because that is not the appropriate way to say but any issues with your granny slips of the times over that you can remember weather forecast and Miss said pissed wonderful colleagues along with us John's leather made the headlines by calling Roy Jenkins J rankins made the front page of the Daily Mirror in the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the budget and it brings a little Joy play Rangers that you can't correct you can go back and say I'm sorry that should be and you say the same thing again, but she did that will let you know that takes his Innocence you know that story made it to the papers but on the

All of you tend to be anonymous.

I mean my grandmother in law was a continuity announcer in Cyprus post and she's always tell stories about you arriving and her ball gown she was actually on the television sing the next program and she was dressed up.

That's just not the case now with you.

You know you are Anonymous Duncan wires that question nobody ever switch on the TV to hear the news.

It's not so hopefully can watch a programme and final line which might make somebody wasn't too sure thing ok? I'll give that a go so many complement the programs to Gavin and Stacey episode which was watched by 17 million people and nobody knows our names.

There was a Wallace and Gromit programme again a few years before Christmas which got much are 60 million a friend of mine kids and they recorded the program and I would watch it again and again and again.

My voice introducing everytime so then throughout the rest of the year when they heard my voice.

They would say Daddy it's the Wallace and Gromit men and some of them magic came towards me to absolutely honest don't mind people not now.

I don't want to be recognised in the street.

I am very grateful that there aren't cameras in the console.

I think it take some of the magic away and it just a quick quote from you David how big were audiences are Christmas in your day good for 21820 million was Norman could he couldn't blow your mind a bit suddenly realise you going out to 28 million people but luckily Teen Spirit teamwork lovely crew behind the glass is it worth which kept us on the level, but it was 5 or inspiring and people did recognise your voice and if you and ounces around.

Did you get spotted they hear you in the street or in the shop and sometimes it be coming up saying I've been waiting to see what you look like and you're a damn disappointment a picture of what you are and someone described as a submarine commander in charge of a did you know it's quite good description Google David Neal see it's quite a good description meeting with someone says you've got a great voice.

You should be on the radio that guy from the TV and I think it's because we do something which is very unnatural but in a very conversational way if I was to phone somebody if

Booking tickets for the cinema or something I haven't to say I'm coming to the cinema at 7 and 8:30 am going for a pizza and at 9 we're going for a cup of tea somebody then may recognise but people say good continuity is goes by noticed.

It's only bad continuously people sit up and take notice.

That's why I think that's why there's so much interest when things go wrong my phone.

You know everytime something goes wrong on any channel my phone blows up because people want to kind of see Behind the glass a little bit because like danger said it's you know everything goes along smoothly if everything goes right the windows and continuity is one of those things that's right pushed to the forefront soluno.

You are the Innocence the voices the voice of the nation how important do you think it is 4 continuity announcers that you reflect the diversity of voices in the country and regional accents different ethnicities people have difficulties with speech for example Gina what do you think about that? This is something that child for we really pride ourselves on a lot, we've had.

A lot of diversity alternative voices over the years and I think one of the things that really stands out cos I've been fortunate enough to work with a lot of the people who come in and to help train them.

It's a very humbling to get quite perhaps doing this day today, but when somebody comes in and you know princess want to people I work with his death and so just the first recorded something and he played a back and listen to when you realise that was going on there.

It was such you know the price.

He had and how does the effect that had on was just so powerful and it's a real privilege to be in a position to witness that I think it reminds you how important our voices and how important it is for people to hear themselves and to have voices from across the country on air and to Northfield there's any impediments to being on there and I think it really is it's it's responsibility.

I guess we have to reflect.

Every voice in the nation and for people to hear themselves and no I can do that someday.

There's not going to be any way of ends nothing in my way.

There's nothing going to stop me and David presumably that is a big change when you were doing the job Lancashire accent to get rid of practice on this.

You know the holidays masterclass bathroom and singing and insisted that this was even know what you're saying that you're wonderful Lancashire accent was that was told if you like classical music which only absolutely ridiculous but that changed in the 80s 90s female voices on when I join if any changes also because we're all going out to wide variety of people.

It's only right as representatives of the people who listening watching over the go, but there was a pretty difficult Daisy stamped on.

Done anything if it wasn't sounding BBC and looking ahead to the Future of continuity announcers.

You know they were created for linear TV and radio when channels holiday schedule and viewers needed to know what was coming up and Gina in the age of on-demand.

Is there still a roll 4 continuity tue 04 sure I mean it's something that we're working on at the moment because we didn't working with some of the feedback that I've heard from different people with the idea of this when you're bending a box.

Set a little bit lonely and disconnected afternoon watching one after another after another and people say they feel disconnected and it's just a miss that little connection with the voice when were popping in saying there's another one you might also like this and not helping people navigate around the schedule.

It's just as important and vital on all4 for instance as it is on Channel 4.

Because everybody knows the June scrolling that we do and I am one of the people who built yes, I will go through the movies that I can CC not seen that seen that for ages and Company if you can easily spend half an hour doing scrolling and that's for the continuity announcer comes in to tell people about this is a new show you're going to like this if you like that you like this too.

So definitely do you feel that the role of the continuity announcer is on the way out? I mean I'm wondering what universe saying you could you have a continuity announcer in Netflix for the saying you know now been to watch another five episodes of The Crown don't do too many because you know got to get from school tomorrow, but if you want to watch more that's fine.

It's a difficult thing to answer because I was VAT would wake up early on Saturday to go downstairs, and what swap shop and take the light dance and just stay there the entire morning.

Where is my children now wouldn't do that.

You know they want to watch everything and they want to watch it now and I just press one button there it is I think it's

Do you want it's done rides? We've all heard voices shouting over the end of a piece of music at the end of the film but When is sunrise it is a very thing and I think it can be very reassuring and when done properly that in a conversational manner.

You are a friend and I hope it continues because I think it is something would walk back if it wasn't there.

I'm afraid we have run out of time which is sad cos I'd love to keep talking about this all day, but that is it for today.

Thank you to all my guests Duncan newmarch from BBC one and two David Allen former TV and that for the BBC and ITV and roof box for my TV tuner Gallagher from Channel 4 and James Steele from Radio 4.

Don't forget you can catch up with past editions of The Show via the BBC Sounds app, but for now he's so much for listening and good.

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