Presenters, Pudsey and ‘People Like Us’!

Marie Giraud, Cultural Intern at BBC Birmingham this year, pauses to reflect on the first half of her internship before winding down for Christmas…

Not only have the first few months at BBC Birmingham been animated and engaging, they have flown by. Settling at my desk in The Mailbox (blissfully located by the bay windows overlooking the canals) and consolidating the list of events I have been involved in leaves me in total disbelief! Instead of giving you a detailed chronological account of my experience, I thought it’d be easier to give you a taster of the departments and projects I had the pleasure of working with so far…


You can’t work at the world’s oldest and largest public broadcasting service without some background knowledge in production. I began my first few weeks in local radio production with the BBC WM teams. As a listener of only podcasts and radio programmes on the weekend I had never experienced what’s involved in radio broadcasting. Shadowing Danny Kelly’s midmorning breakfast show I was astonished by the sheer volume of calls, texts, tweets and posts the show receives which the small (but perfectly-formed!) production team have to deal with on a daily basis. Kelly has been described as the ‘Champion of the West Midlands’ and his show often ignites debate, discussion and resolutions amongst his listeners. I also tagged along to BBC Introducing sessions. For you music enthusiasts, you’ll know that BBC Introducing showcases the region’s freshest musical talent which gives artists a career boost and keeps the BBC connected to its local and creative audience. On the TV side of things, I assisted the Midlands Today Arts Correspondent Satnam Rana with a live feature on the Library of Birmingham and Ikon gallery’s big unveiling of its A Real Birmingham Family sculpture. I also made my TV debut (you all knew this big day would come!) and played a victim of stalking in the January edition of Inside Out, so watch this space!


(Image: Crew filming Inside Out stalking special on the streets of Birmingham)


Fundraising was a big part of the BBC’s programme in November with the Children in Need Appeal Show being aired on the 14th. In the run up to this the Mailbox office dug deep in its pockets and bought cakes (all made as part of our BBC Bake Off!), tucked in to a Diwali-inspired lunchtime feast and created a ‘Mailbox Mile’ walking tour to encourage more mingling and exchange between departments. As goes the BBC intern tradition, I helped out with live filming of the Appeal Show. This year, specially selected children’s choirs from all over the country sang live (and in unison!). Birmingham’s output came from the incredible Thinktank Museum. Donning a high-vis jacket and plenty of layers, I had to make sure that a hundred primary school children were fed, watered, concentrating and just generally having an awesome time. All hell broke loose when Pudsey came on the scene – who knew the big bear could even overshadow Andy Akinwolere (Blue Peter presenter of 5 years!).


The BBC’s Outreach and Corporate Responsibility has always been an area of the organisation that interested me, so when the news came that Radio 1xtra and Real Stories were going to be in town, I volunteered my services. Unless you’ve been out the country or all your laptop’s set on fire you’ll know that Radio 1xtra held a ground-breaking live show at the NIA with big name artists like: Mary J. Blige, Rick Ross, Boy Better Know and Fuse ODG. If you didn’t know this…I recommend you watch this nifty video that sums up the Outreach work the team did in the run up to the live event. Do it NOW! I helped out with a ‘How to Get into Radio’ session, complete with a Q+A from Yasmin Evans and Twin-B, established 1xtra breakfast presenters which saw a huge turnout of young listeners and fans from across the region interested in radio and got to attend the pre-party and live show with the rest of the Outreach team.

BBC Outreach volunteers at 1xtra pre-party
BBC Outreach volunteers at 1xtra pre-party

Two weeks ago saw the fruition of an ambitious project in Chelmsley Wood. Following on from the BBC 3 series ‘People Like Us’, Outreach staff, volunteers and regional producers hosted a full day of factual storyboarding and pitching for the area’s young and hard to reach audience. The day enabled members of the young community to voice their opinions on what is or isn’t being represented in the media.

BBC's Jenny Wilkes leading a brainstorming session in Chelmsley Wood
BBC’s Jenny Wilkes leading a brainstorming session in Chelmsley Wood

On top of this, we host a plethora of digital-related events in the Public Space such as: Coding Club (for under 18s), Social Media Café (for entrepreneurs) and Social Media Surgery (for community groups and charities). You’ll be pleased to know that following some training I can now code (a little) or at least explain the concept to people…and no, you won’t be seeing any interactive websites anytime soon.


As if the perks mentioned in this post weren’t enough, one great benefit of being a BBC staff member is the sheer amount of training and educational resources available to me. I’ve had access to classroom courses and workshops held by Senior Broadcast Journalists which has enabled me to build on my media knowledge as well as facts and figures that remind you of the great privilege it is to be working for a public service.


BBC Birmingham staff on training at MediaCity in Salford
BBC Birmingham staff on training at MediaCity in Salford

On that note, I’ll leave you with this astonishing fact 97% of all UK audiences will consume some form of BBC content at least once a week. For someone who has always been fascinated with people and engaging with them, what other organisation could give you the capacity to connect with them so widely?



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