The Newsroom

BBC Breakfast - 16th July onwards

Split from BBC News (UK) presentation - Reith launch onwards

SW
Steve Williams
For me, it was the afternoon of Thursday 12th March when BBC One joined the News Channel for the first government daily briefing presented by a serious looking Simon McCoy.


In fact I would suggest Dan Walker was at least partly responsible for the daily briefings happening in the first place, because he tweeted to the effect around that time "it would be good if we had a daily press conference" which got a lot of traction and then they started doing it.

This is all fascinating stuff, it's all really interesting to read. As suggested, it seemed to happen really quickly, in that on the weekend of 7th March everything was as normal, my partner went out on Saturday night and on the Sunday we went to Westfield, then in work that week there was a bit of "well, imagine if it did happen here", but things were still pretty normal - on the Tuesday my colleague went up to Manchester for a meeting, on the Wednesday (when I remember watching Simon McCoy on BBC News in Wakefield High Street after the Budget) I watched the Liverpool match and my partner went out with her friends, and on Thursday I left the office before the end of an unrelated meeting so I didn't miss the train.

On Friday 13th I decided to work from home just to make sure all was OK if I needed to do it more, then pondered all weekend if I should go in on Monday, decided I would if only to grab some stuff, but my train was cancelled due to a signal failure so I took that as a sign and didn't go in. And I haven't been in since, and that was the last day any of my colleagues were in the office too. Life comes at you fast.

The other week Danny Baker on Twitter asked what Day One would be in all the films about it, and someone suggested it had to be Friday 13th, not just because it was so appropriate, but because that was the day the football was cancelled.
MA
Markymark Meridian (Thames Valley) South Today
Weekend of March 14/15 myself and 6 others were working in Central London, installing kit in a deserted building, (which had emptied itself of staff during the preceeding week) We were staying in a deserted hotel round the corner. I think it hit home with me real trouble was imminent on Monday morning flicking between the TV breakfast shows. We commuted in to London from our homes Tue and Wednesday on virtually deserted trains, the building we were working in was evacuated and shut Wednesday lunchtime. Not worked since.
VM
VMPhil Granada North West Today
So for me, the media and government response is what alerted my of the severity. Ignorantly, throughout January, February and early March I never even dreamed of it coming to the UK. I remember lead stories of the first cases in the UK and they had a media frenzy around a couple of coaches carrying people.

I don't think you were being ignorant, I think like most people you had a belief that if it was serious, measures would be put in place to avoid us getting to the point we are at now.
BF
BFGArmy Channel Channel Islands
For me, it was the afternoon of Thursday 12th March when BBC One joined the News Channel for the first government daily briefing presented by a serious looking Simon McCoy.


In fact I would suggest Dan Walker was at least partly responsible for the daily briefings happening in the first place, because he tweeted to the effect around that time "it would be good if we had a daily press conference" which got a lot of traction and then they started doing it.

This is all fascinating stuff, it's all really interesting to read. As suggested, it seemed to happen really quickly, in that on the weekend of 7th March everything was as normal, my partner went out on Saturday night and on the Sunday we went to Westfield, then in work that week there was a bit of "well, imagine if it did happen here", but things were still pretty normal - on the Tuesday my colleague went up to Manchester for a meeting, on the Wednesday (when I remember watching Simon McCoy on BBC News in Wakefield High Street after the Budget) I watched the Liverpool match and my partner went out with her friends, and on Thursday I left the office before the end of an unrelated meeting so I didn't miss the train.

On Friday 13th I decided to work from home just to make sure all was OK if I needed to do it more, then pondered all weekend if I should go in on Monday, decided I would if only to grab some stuff, but my train was cancelled due to a signal failure so I took that as a sign and didn't go in. And I haven't been in since, and that was the last day any of my colleagues were in the office too. Life comes at you fast.

The other week Danny Baker on Twitter asked what Day One would be in all the films about it, and someone suggested it had to be Friday 13th, not just because it was so appropriate, but because that was the day the football was cancelled.


I think it was definetely that week beginning 9th March where the magnitude of it dawned on me. I'd heard it mentioned plenty on channels like CNN but something as severe as going on lockdown still felt miles off.

The weekend before I was still going to the pub to watch the rugby (but had got to the stage of trying to avoid touching regularly-touched surfaces such as door handles by hand) but that following week things suddenly escalated, I was checking my WFH set-up and not long after everyone was on lockdown.

I've been quite fortunate actually in that where I am (Guernsey) they locked down very early and we've had no new cases for a while and been able to move back to something approaching normality. There's reduced ability to travel off-island but that's a necessary evil in the circumstances. There's certainly been way more Guernsey politicians on UK media than there usually are.
Last edited by BFGArmy on 10 July 2020 7:18pm - 2 times in total
WO
Worzel Anglia (West) Look East (West sub-opt)
For me I was on the radio when the government briefings started and I ended up taking them live.

The mood very much changed from the Tuesday to the Friday. By the Thursday there were calls for the country to be locked down.

One of the most spine tingling moments for me was Ben Brown's opening line on BBC News at One on the Friday before lockdown on the 20th March - 'The government calls on retired Doctors and Nurses to come back to work and help fight the coronavirus outbreak. Letters are being sent out to 65,000 retired NHS staff in England and Wales telling them their health service needs them'.
MA
madmusician Central (West) Midlands Today
As somebody who works as a cathedral organist, we were all keeping an eye on it from when we were back after February half-term, as a local school had a scare upon returning from their ski trip to Italy. But it was definitely w/c 9th March when it stepped up. I remember speaking to colleagues about it on Thursday 12th and wondering what would be happening and what wouldn't. A concert was cancelled on Saturday 14th, although we still did our usual services. By Monday 16th, it was clear that a further concert on the Saturday would be cancelled and then the following day it was announced that public worship would cease nationally. And I've not been back to work since. Who knows when we'll return. Crazy times.
CM
cmthwtv West Country (East) Points West
For me I was on the radio when the government briefings started and I ended up taking them live.

The mood very much changed from the Tuesday to the Friday. By the Thursday there were calls for the country to be locked down.

One of the most spine tingling moments for me was Ben Brown's opening line on BBC News at One on the Friday before lockdown on the 20th March - 'The government calls on retired Doctors and Nurses to come back to work and help fight the coronavirus outbreak. Letters are being sent out to 65,000 retired NHS staff in England and Wales telling them their health service needs them'.


The whole week felt tingly. The Six on the Wednesday previous to lockdown was 45 minutes. Points West went single headed. Ben Brown, who was hosting the special from Studio A, expressed the severity of the situation in his tone.

The presentation changed - I knew that it was going to be one of the biggest stories to ever face. And, it is the biggest story we have ever seen, in fact, the only story through March, April and much of May.

It was a massive week for TV presentation as well, something that, surprisingly, was not discussed as much as I thought it would be here as each and every one of us, up and down the country, were engrossed in what seemed like unimaginable situations we could end up in.

We've seen stuff which we wouldn't have dreamt at the start of this year. On the lighter side, it has brought many together and has kept my TV news enthusiast self more entertained than ever.
BR
Brekkie Wales Wales Today
I think it went from "it's just flu" to "must buy toilet paper and gloves" pretty quickly - certainly the Premier League cancelling their fixtures was the real "this is happening" moment. The unveiling of the furlough scheme was probably when it became most real.
Stay Local. Stay Safe. Stay Alive.
TI
tightrope78 UTV Newsline
I went to Stockholm for Melodifestivalen at the start of March. I didn’t consider it risky as there’d been no deaths in the UK or Sweden at that point. Whilst we were there the Danish NF was held behind closed doors and mass gatherings banned so it was obvious that the pace was quickening. Hand sanitizing was the norm in Stockholm that weekend but nothing more obvious than that. At that point there was absolutely no thought amongst the fans I talked to that Eurovision would be cancelled

We arrived back at Heathrow on Monday 9th March and had a wait for our connecting flight. There was one of the first daily briefings on and it was obvious things had escalated that weekend. By the time we got back to Belfast Italy had announced their national lockdown and the reality dawned on me as I watched the BBC News at Ten that night. It was like Armageddon.
SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
The thing that struck me was how quickly the situation changed. I work in a university as a learning technologist, we were aware that other places had announced they were going to "pivot online" but other than a few vague and under the radar contingency planning meetings there was nothing official and not a great deal of urgency around it.

Monday AM, Told the boss I was going to start putting together a "how to teach online" crash course, just in case.
Monday PM, Announcement that we were going online from the following week. Training session hastily cobbled together and scheduled for next day.
Tuesday AM: Biggest ever turnout at one of my training sessions.
Tuesday PM: Announcement of everything online from tomorrow, work at home if you can. Not been in the place since.

From a broadcasting point of view, I think the first thing I noticed was Global banning studio guests and Chris Moyles doing a proof of concept show from home on Radio X.
Write that down in your copybook now.
BF
BFGArmy Channel Channel Islands
I was actually in France when they closed the ski resorts for the season with no advanced warning (after 'changeover day' too so many people would just have arrived - when I'd arrived it was still pretty much as normal) so remember hastily arranging travel back to the UK as I figured the next step would be France going into lockdown.
IS
Inspector Sands
Oddly enough I was listening to an LBC podcast from late February last night (I've a massive backlog as I'm working from home and not commuting) and was amused as the handover to the next presenter was left in which had the, shock horror, headline that 15 people in the UK had Coronavirus!


It escalated very quickly, but it did seem from early March that something was going to change soon, people started talking about restrictions coming in... and many predicting far greater ones than we had. My work had been on top of it for a while though, we had restrictions on movement and hand gel, wipes etc for a while before hand. I had a few visits to my local hospital in Feb and March and nothing really was different, a few signs at the entrance but business as usual

For me it was the week of the 9th March that everything started to get real, I was working a lot that week and it was becoming obvious that my time off afterwards wasn't going to be the relaxing week I had expecting, and it wasn't as society gradually closed down we had to make some tough decisions such as whether I continued going into work. For various medical and childcare reasons I decided to work from home as best I could. I'm quite lucky I had the choice as my normal role can't be done remotely. The thought of potentially not going out for 3 months scared me

Those first few weeks were like a grieving process for everyone, normal life and everything we'd taken for granted had suddenly gone. Took a while for me to get my head round it. There was also he thought that when it was over there would be lots of people I knew, or knew of, or saw regularly that I wouldn't ever again. Thankfully I don't know anyone who's had it,

I couldn't avoid the news while at work but barely watched it once at home, partly because of the kids but partly because we just couldn't bare it and I think mentally I was better for it. I even turned off news alerts on my phone as it was too much.
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 11 July 2020 11:53am

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