Adam Bird


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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Nervousness Nearly Killed The TV Star

On Sunday 2nd February, in response to a group that I had set up on Facebook "Say NO to the Ebbsfleet Angel" I was invited by the BBC to appear on the Politics Show to speak alongside Mark Davy, one of the directors at Future City, the people behind the landmark proposal.

To help me prepare for the interview I wrote a blog outlining my arguments and gave detailed answers to potential questions - which did help me out on the day, although I did succumb to a severe bout of nerves and forgotten most of which I had written, or wasn't able to articulate what I really wanted to say.

Leading up to Sunday, playing various scenarios out in my head, as is nearly always the case - nothing is ever as bad as you think it will be and nothing is as you would imagine it. There was no tripping over the camera, using a profanity by mistake, gibbering incoherently, although there was a brief moment after the first question was put to me that I managed to lose track of myself and apologetically coughed to create a moment respite for myself and to gather my thoughts.

If ever you are trying to give up smoking, I would recommend avoiding nervous situations such as these and in leading up to Sunday my will was broken and I am still in relapse, but all the Marlboro Lights in the world wouldn't have been able to stop me shaking as I signed a disclosure form ensuring that the BBC had exclusive rights to my 'performance'. It may have been my entrance to the building in Tunbridge Wells that didn't help matters. On opening the blue door entering the building I managed to pull the big brass door handle out of the door, which clumped to the floor, made a loud rattling noise and I attempted, clumsily to put it back!

On arrival into the green room, other people were sitting patiently awaiting further instructions and I was keen to meet the person whom I would be speaking with, but nobody had a clue what I was talking about when I asked the two men present which one was speaking about the Ebbsfleet Landmark. One was a Liberal Democrat MP and the other a university professor so goodness knows what impression that had of me!

As we met with the producer and ran through a mic check, I was sat with the presenter whom asked a few dummy questions, which I was entirely grateful for. Having sat in the chair, under the lights, with the camera's running and seeing myself on numerous television screens dotted around the studio I felt slightly calmer. With my fellow interviewee still conspicuous by his absence I was imagining a scenario whereby I was to be interviewed by myself and having to fill a whole six minute spot with why I didn't like the Ebbsfleet Landmark designs.

Fortunately, Mark Davy arrived shortly before going on air, we was sitting in the studio, away from the green room waiting patiently for the national elements of the Politics Show to finish and cut away to the regional areas. Mark and I shook hands, but wasn't able to talk, but managed to convey through whispers and hand signals that we were both nervous but it was good to meet each other!

To be quite honest, the interview stage was quite a blur - I remember Paul Siegert, the presenter introducing me as Adam Bird, from Northfleet, which put me off slightly as I wanted to correct him! I also remember thinking to myself that I want to say this, this, this, this and trying to think ahead but not answering in the way I would have wanted.

All in all the outcome has been pretty positive, I don't think that I made a fool of myself, or came across particularly badly, it was clear that I was nervous, but grew in confidence as time went on. It's a shame that we never had another five minutes or so for me to get over my stage fright! It has been suggested to me that the presenter was keen to hear more from Mark Davy rather than allowing me to get my point across, but I think the presenter was too concerned about my nervous disposition and the potential for things to go wrong than anything!

However, once the camera's had stopped rolling Mark and I had the opportunity to have a more relaxed conversation about the whole proposal and the various issues that have been floating around. It was clear to me that Mark is very passionate about the project and cares about it deeply, just as much as I do - despite our opposing angles..

Both Mark and Paul, the presenter argued that 40,000 people had responded to the proposals and that was justification in that the local people had been consulted. Which I agree, is true, but they had been consulted after the event, and the results in which 40,000 people gave needs to be fully analysed. Of those 40,000 people, how many come from a 10 mile radius of the Landmark? The exhibition at Bluewater will have drawn many responses from people who are day trippers from surrounding areas and such don't have an affinity with the surrounding towns and villages, nor will the Landmark have an effect on their day to day life's.

Also, the 40,000 people were given the opportunity to give their views on the 5 designs, they weren't asked anything else. How many people liked design A, design B, etc how many didn't like any of the 5? It is quite possible therefore that the final number in which people are actually FOR the winning proposals in significantly lower than the quoted.

If 40,000 people had responded to a questionairre, in which their feedback was used to put forward a design and those same 40,000 people had responded to the design choices, you probably wouldn't be reading this.

It is not by all means a foregone conclusion that Tuesday's winning design will actually be built, the current financial climate dictating the pace and the funding behind it. There will also need to be planning reviews, which will give the local people the biggest opportunity to have a say. The project itself has already cost a lot of money, with the original briefs, the artists time and effort to come up with something - which couldn't have taken long ;-) plus as well all the exhibition fees and overheads.

I don't know what the next step would be, the most logical I feel would be to answer back and provide 40,000 people who DON'T want the Landmark, or find 40,000 whom like the idea, but not the concept. This way we have given a fact, matching there own opening a potential avenue for publicity. The question remains, how do we go about it?

Related Links

» BBC News article relating to funding of the project
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