Where are you from?
How did you get started in broadcasting?
I spent six years on Hospital Radio Reading while working as a reporter on various newspapers, then when a job came up at BBC Radio Berkshire, I jumped at it.
When was that?
I started at BBC Radio Berkshire in 1994, working there for two years before my first TV job, at Westcountry Television in Plymouth. I worked there from 1996 for 18 months, then came back to the BBC to take up the post of Reading-based reporter and presenter at South Today. Been here for nine years!
Why News broadcasting?
I wanted to be a journalist from the age of 14 – in part, to spite my careers teacher at school (!) who’d said it was too tough a job to get into, and I should consider plumbing instead. If I’d listened to her I’d have probably been a bit richer! But I always dreamed of working for the BBC so I feel very lucky to be where I am now
Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
BBC Radio Berkshire, Westcountry Live television, BBC South Today, and BBC 1’s Inside Out programme.
What is your Best on-air moment?
Live illustrated two-way in studio after I’d returned from the Maldives, just after the tsunami. I’d been following a shipment of aid from the South of England and had been out there as a lone VJ. I’d been basically awake for 36 hours, and was whisked straight into studio, exhausted but buzzing with what I’d seen and filmed. Big, tragic but hopeful story.
What is your Worst on-air moment?
When Westcountry studios were struck by lightning just as the title music played for a five minute bulletin which I was presenting! We lost the autocue and all our video material, so I was on screen solidly for the whole bulletin reading from my standby paper scripts – all the while, all I could hear from the production gallery was very loud swear words in my earpiece!
What would you like to do before your career ends?
I’d like to do a report that really makes a difference. Like the famous Michael Buerk material from Ethiopia. Something that changes people’s perception of the world.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m learning sign language – I have made a few deaf friends in recent years, and have always been fascinated. I co-hosted the weekly signed programme at Westcountry a couple of times.
What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Get as multi-skilled as you can. It’s essential to have more than one string to your bow these days. You need to make contact with the place where you hope to work – be sure you can offer what they need – and then just be available when they call. Make a good first impression, and they’ll want you back.
A big thanks to Allen for taking part.