Edward Lewis goes to the BBC

It isn’t every day one gets an answer phone message from the BBC asking you to ring back regarding Thought for the Day.

I had heard that Baroness Trumpington was to be a guest editor on the Today programme in Christmas week. Little did I think that she would ask me to deliver Thought For The Day (or TFTD as it’s known within the Beeb.) I had met the noble baroness at a function in Buckingham Palace back in 2013. Fr Paul Lockett and I had a very fun-filled half hour in her company. We had stayed in touch. There was no possibility of declining this command! 

Two minutes and 45 seconds of a live but prepared script. What to say? The theme of saints suggested itself and Bishop Jonathan Baker threw in some helpful thoughts. The editorial team at the BBC were on hand and made useful suggestions, and a week before broadcast it was signed-off by them. I just had to hope that nothing major happened that meant the script would have to be hurriedly rewritten!

The early hours of that Friday morning saw a drunk at the front door wanting to debate the difference between the Roman and Anglican churches—disturbed sleep on the very night when it was least needed! Then a major accident meant that my local station was closed (providentially I had opted for a taxi to be sure of getting to New Broadcasting House on time) and I had the beginnings of a chest infection! 

   Alongside the Today studio is the so called ‘green room,’ where those being interviewed etc. wait.

   As the picture shows, it’s just a glass wall away from the actual studio. A lovely lady from GCHQ (on ahead of me) and I were taken into the studio together and the presenters—Messrs Humphrys and Webb—made a few welcoming remarks. It was GCHQ and then TFTD! 

Once delivered it was out of the studio back to the ‘green room’ to pick up coats and then away. 

The GCHQ gang invited me to join them for tea, which was lovely. To have gone straight home, alone, after that experience would have been flat. 

Like so many ND readers, I have grown up with the Today programme and it was wonderful to see it being broadcast and of course to have those three minutes to try and share a few thoughts coming from parish ministry. 

Thank you to Baroness Trumpington for the two experiences. I just hope that as she listened (she is now in a care home) she didn’t give me that famous Churchillian salute she gave Lord King in the House of Lords, and which has gone viral on YouTube. 

Fr Edward Lewis is vicar of St Mary’s, Kenton