Studied: Economics & Public Administration
Place of Work: BBC
Position: Editor, Live Political Programmes
What did you think of Royal Holloway as a university?
I was proud to be a student at Royal Holloway (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College when I was there). It has the best of both worlds - being located in beautiful countryside, in a magnificent setting, but close enough to jaunt up to London at the weekend. The accommodation has improved significantly from my time at the university - I think my block has been demolished! I can see why Royal Holloway has developed such a good reputation.
Were you involved in any sports or societies?
I like to exaggerate just how involved (and successful) I was at football. In my mind I was a star winger. In reality I trained with the university third team and only came on as a substitute.
What is the most important thing that Royal Holloway taught you?
Often the one thing we ignore when looking back at our time at university is the course we went there in the first place to study. My degree was in economic and public administration. I wouldn’t claim to have been the most conscientious or brilliant of students, but the grounding I was given has been the foundation of my understanding of much of the current political debate on the state of the economy. I do enjoy occasionally interviewing some of my former tutors. My time to ask them the difficult questions.
What is your fondest memory of Royal Holloway?
My fondest memories will have to remain confidential as this is a family publication. However, I did look forward to Sunday mornings, reading and arguing about the Sunday papers with friends in the student restaurant block. A less fond memory was trying to find a parking spot for my mustard yellow clapped out mini. Is this still a problem?
What did you learn at Royal Holloway that helped you develop your career?
Like many students I was hopeless when it came to career planning. I stumbled in to TV journalism through my interests and contacts in politics and debate. Looking back I wish I’d made more of the excellent support and help available at Royal Holloway.
What has been your career path since graduating?
I spent my first year after university freelancing for independent production companies, writing scripts for corporate videos. I earned £6,000 in my first year – not great! I then joined the BBC as a political researcher, on a short term contract and ended up working for the then Sunday lunchtime politics programme, On The Record (the one with the crocodile in the titles for those with long memories). I jumped around inside and outside the BBC before eventually ending up at Newsnight as deputy editor. And four years ago I became editor of BBC’s Live Political Programmes which includes the Daily and Sunday Politics programmes and This Week.
What do you do in your everyday job?
The Daily and Sunday Politics runs 6 days a week. It really is a labour of love. I’m woken every morning at 6:23am to Radio 4’s Today programme to get the very latest overnight developments in the main political stories. At 7:45am I call the office and confirm the running order for the todays Daily Politics before tweeting out our plans from my phone on the train (@robbiegibb). The programme is on air at noon everyday so the rest of the morning is spent preparing for the show, dealing with editorial issues and trying to get ministers to come on the programme. The running order changes throughout the morning, and as we are live, the programme changes even when we are on air. After the show (BBC2, 12:00-13:00) we start preparing for the next day, and so it goes on. There are meetings of course (lots of them) but usually meetings with a purpose. Our most watched programme is the Sunday Politics (BBC1, 11:00-12:15). It’s amazing how quickly it come around. It can be a struggle to get cabinet ministers to subject themselves to 15 minutes of forensic grilling by Andrew Neil at the weekend. Who can blame them!
What challenges have you come across in your role?
I love the job and the BBC is an excellent employer. However, I do find it hard to switch off at home. The curse of the Blackberry and twitter (and even the phone) mean I am always available. I’m sure I’ve become a bit of a bore to friends and family.