Last week, it was my BBC leaving party. It was fabulous and the perfect send-off.
I’ll admit that beforehand, I was a bit worried because I was feeling so ill in the week running up to it, and at one stage, I really thought I might not be able to make it. However, I got myself some antibiotics and was determined to be well enough come the day.
If I’m honest, I was also anxious that not many people would turn up. After all, it was midweek and freezing cold. However, I knew I would enjoy it, even if only 20 people came. I needn’t have worried though. I got there with my family at about 6.30pm and soon after that, the blagclub in HollandPark was full. Of course, I then realised that I wasn’t going to have any meaningful conversations with anyone that evening, as no sooner did I start talking to someone than I would have to stop mid-way as someone else came to say hello.
There were so many wonderful people there and it was especially lovely to see so many from my early days in the newsroom.
At about 7.30, everyone went very quiet and gathered round a big screen, and we watched the most amazing film that had been put together. It was mind-blowingly fantastic and even though I am obviously biased, I think it is one of the best leaving films I have EVER seen and believe me, at the BBC, we are very good at them. It was edited mainly by my lovely friend Duncan Knowles and presented by the BBC’s best Arts and Entertainment Correspondent, David Sillito. I can freely admit now that I have been a bit in love with both of these men for over fifteen years
The film centred around the premise that my rather loud laugh, which it seems I am quite well known for, was responsible for Television Centre’s crumbling foundations and the real reason why it had to close. It starred past and present colleagues and featured fabulous contributions from the likes of the great Bill Turnbull, Susanna Reid, Esther Rantzen, Terry Wogan, David Frost and unbelievably, the gorgeous David Tennant. That contribution alone has seemed to finally gain my daughter’s undying awe and respect!!
It was incredibly funny, apart from the seemingly endless footage of me that they managed to find of me from over the years, much of which I had tried to keep secret!
I loved it though. Totally loved it and am still completely overwhelmed at the time and trouble that so many of my lovely friends and colleagues took to put it together.
It didn’t end there either as then my lovely manager, James Buchanan, gave an amazing speech which although was full of all my bumbling incompetencies, was also full of true affection. I had already cried during the film but I admit to being emotional at Jim’s speech too.
Then of course it was my turn. Fortunately, I had prepared something in advance as by now, I was genuinely speechless, and could barely get the words out. I’ll publish it here sometime but now it seems so trite compared to such a fulsome tribute and to the most beautiful gifts which included the prettiest tea set by Katy Potts, a posh Cross pen and a notebook together with the comedy bible so that I can start work on my own sit-com (watch this space) and an amazing Waterford crystal rose bowl.
All so beautiful, and I am getting emotional again just thinking about that fantastic evening which saw the end of a fabulous thirty years. That’s why it has taken me so long to write about it because even over a week and a half later I’m quite emotional at the realisation that saying goodbye to all my brilliant colleagues means that I really have now left the BBC.
It is no longer my present, but part of my past.