Breakfast? Loo breaks? The challenges of two shows a day
Every weekday morning, Vanessa Feltz welcomes listeners to her show with warmth and enthusiasm. Two hours later, she does the exact same thing.
As the host of two (and sometimes even three) programmes per day – the presenter is in a rare broadcasting breed.
A standard Monday to Friday schedule, will see Feltz host the early morning show on Radio 2 (05:00-06:30), before dashing over to her breakfast show on BBC Radio London (07:00-10:00).
“It is unusual, and I suppose that’s because it requires quite a lot of physical endurance and stamina just to keep at it,” she tells BBC News.
“It’s about leaping from one role to another, keeping the momentum going, the enthusiasm going, but also being true to yourself, because you can’t be two different people.
“You have to appeal to two different audiences, but still retain some kind of integrity and authenticity, and that can be a bit of a challenge.”
It’s not just her two weekday BBC radio programmes Feltz has to think about.
Several times a week, she also appears on ITV’s This Morning – the programme which provides the biggest geographical challenge, requiring her to dart from Oxford Circus to Shepherd’s Bush.
“I can be seen on This Morning days, finishing this show on BBC London at 10am, running down the backstairs as fast as I physically can, bursting out of the door and leaping onto a Limobike, and then charging at full tilt on the back of this motorbike across the Westway towards the studios,” Feltz explains.
“[Then] leaping off the bike at the other end, charging into make-up at This Morning, where some poor long-suffering make-up ladies hurtle all this blusher and concealer on to my face before I schlep into the set at 10:30 – so by that time it’s my third job of the day.”
Other presenters who juggle several commitments include Eamonn Holmes, who often doubles up This Morning with his Talkradio drivetime show, and Kate Garraway, who frequently darts from Good Morning Britain to Smooth Radio.
Garraway has previously said the working pattern suits her, telling the Evening Standard: “The hours are rubbish for young, single people who want to go out and party but quite useful for being a mum. I can pick my little girl up from school so it works well.”
Holmes, meanwhile, has said in an interview with The Independent: “I’m very well organised. I’ve got two secretaries – it’s all run as a business.”
Feltz points out: “Most broadcasters do one show per day, some do one show a week, some do one a month, you don’t normally have broadcasters do more than one show at a time, certainly not consecutively.”
But one person who’s about to start doing just that is Jeremy Vine.
In addition to his weekday lunchtime Radio 2 programme, the presenter is about to take over from Matthew Wright as the host of Channel 5’s weekday mid-morning current affairs show.
Previously called The Wright Stuff, the new programme – launching on Monday – will now simply be titled Jeremy Vine.
But the new show, naturally, will pose a couple of logistical challenges for Vine. For example, getting from Channel 5’s studios on Gray’s Inn Road in north London to the BBC’s Wogan House near Oxford Circus.
Jeremy Vine (the TV programme) will be broadcast from 09:15-11:15, while his Radio 2 show begins at midday. But Channel 5 has already given him a bit of leeway.
A spokesman for the show confirmed to BBC News the new programme will have a pre-recorded element so Vine can fulfil his Radio 2 commitments.
This will come during the news review section towards the end of the show – which will give Vine some crucial extra time to get to BBC Radio 2’s HQ (but as a keen cyclist, he should be able to make it no problem).
There are a couple of other considerations when juggling two shows, however.
For Feltz, the amount of speech in her programmes, plus the half hour gap between them, doesn’t leave time for extravagant luxuries such as, say, eating.
“If you talk as much as I do on the radio there’s no time to eat or drink anything at all,” she says.
“I don’t eat because there’s no time whatsoever, you can’t be tucking into a full English while broadcasting, especially on my BBC London show, there’s no adverts, no music, no nothing.”
She does manage to squeeze in a few cups of coffee and tea over the course of the morning, but even the gap between shows doesn’t provide any time for breakfast.
“One show finishes at 06:30, I’m back on air at 07:00, with a handover at 06:45, plus I’ve got to be briefed… there’s nowhere to go [for breakfast], and there’s no time to go there.”
Feltz often covers Vine when he’s on holiday from his Radio 2 show – which gives her the slightly more generous gap of two hours between programmes.
One of the key aspects of the job, of course, is maintaining a show’s natural momentum, by sounding enthusiastic over several hours.
“You can see while I’m talking to you, I’m giving you hand gestures, I’m giving you a modulated voice that goes up and down and in and out, I’m not just reeling off a few things in a monotonous dirge-like manner, and that’s the challenge, it’s to inhabit the story, give it some pizzazz,” says Feltz in a, we can confirm, well-animated voice.
“And also sometimes you’re dealing with very sad stories, and you have to have in you the resources to feel for the person you’re talking to. If you’re completely strung out, worn out, exhausted, you can’t really do that.”
Feltz says she tries to get at least six hours sleep a night – although often doesn’t feel tired enough to go to sleep when she climbs into bed at 10pm.
Of course, there is also one rather basic human need we haven’t yet addressed: Going to the bathroom.
“A complete nightmare,” says Feltz. “There’s never any time to go to the loo at all.
“On Radio 2 there is music so theoretically you could leap out of the studio during a track and go to the Ladies if you absolutely had to, but there’s always the next item to get ready for.
“So you’re always busy sorting out the emails or the jingles… you haven’t really got a clear gap.
“At BBC London the longest time you’re not doing anything is during the news, but that’s only about three minutes long – so there’s not much time to do what a woman’s got to do, let’s put it that way. Go before you leave the house I’d say.”
But despite all the challenges, Feltz says she finds the whole process immensely enjoyable.
“It is quite tough, concentrating that long is quite tough, giving it absolutely full welly is quite tough, but it’s also one of the most fun jobs anyone can have, and to me that’s the motivation.
“I thoroughly enjoy it, and I know that Jeremy does too. And I think he’s going to absolutely love it. He’s going to love going from telly to radio and back again, he’s going to love having a live audience in the studio… the contrast and the different approach and doing it all is going to be an absolute reward for him.”