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  • Writer's picturePeter Fearnley

Flowers on the Railings (Part 3)

The Radio Sheffield interview was picked up by BBC News online. That led to a call from one of the producers of Good Morning Britain and an invitation to go down to London to appear on the show with Becky’s Mum, Sharon, and sister, Emma. We’d been away for the weekend visiting friends and I’d switched my phone off – mainly to avoid the constant pinging every time I received a new message on Facebook or YouTube.

When I switched it back on again there were several messages waiting for me, including one from Emma asking me to phone the producer. Apparently Piers Morgan had seen the BBC News item and was keen for it to be featured on GMB. We were offered our travel and accommodation expenses for the trip, plus a driver to pick us up from St Pancras Railway Station and ferry us around. The producers wanted to make sure that the first time we met face to face was on TV, so they booked us onto different trains from Sheffield to London and into separate hotels when we got there.

My wife Charlotte picked me up from work and we boarded a crowded evening train to London. When we got there, we were taken to K West - a hotel with great rock n roll pedigree. It was once a recording studio and was where John Peel’s legendary sessions were recorded, along with some of David Bowie’s earliest performances on BBC Radio. The hotel was named after the K West sign on the cover of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust LP and there were lots of reminders of the building’s former use in the memorabilia lying around the place. I was in my element. However, we were tired from the journey and the price of drinks in the bar was astronomical, so we had a meal in the restaurant and had an early night. Not that I managed to sleep very much.

At seven o’clock the next morning, we were whisked away to the Good Morning Britain studio in West London. I was surprised to recognise the place as the old BBC TV Studios, which I’d seen regularly as a child watching Blue Peter and probably lots of other programmes that were filmed there. Instead of to the main entrance, the driver took us round the back to the studio doors. We were escorted down a high ceilinged corridor, past piles of discarded props and what looked like furniture from some gaudy game show, to the backstage area – which was a scene of controlled chaos. There were masses of people milling around, many carrying clip boards, but each one seemed to have a purpose and to know exactly what they were doing. From what I could gather, everyone with a clipboard was an assistant producer. It wasn’t long before we were greeted by a very friendly young woman, who ticked us off her list and escorted us to a dressing room deep in the bowels of the building. We passed the studios for “This Morning”, “Lorraine” and “Loose Women”, which are filmed in the same building and, along with GMB, form the backbone of ITV’s daytime TV schedule.

The dressing room was a calm oasis in the midst of all the chaos. We could see the programme being screened live on a screen on the wall. I was told that we’d be on shortly after eight o’clock, so I had around half an hour to control my nerves and resist the urge to run away. A few minutes before eight, we were taken back up through the labyrinth to an open seating area where I was given a few dabs of make up and fitted with a wireless microphone. The room was buzzing with activity. Lorraine Kelly walked past with a small entourage and seemed chatty and friendly just as she does on screen. In another corner Andi Peters was holding an award that the programme had received at some show-biz do the previous evening and he seemed the complete opposite of his screen personality. Maybe he was mentally rehearsing his next contribution to the show, but he clearly did not want to be disturbed by anyone in the room – including his own colleagues.

You can watch what happened next on the video below, but it was great to finally meet up with Sharon and Emma in person. They are lovely people and I was glad to play my part in bringing their moving story to a wider audience.

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