Radio Times

CHRIS MASON

BBC NEWS

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Were you surprised by the election news? Yes. It was like a cataclysm, with my plans shredded as fast as my trousers were getting wet during the announceme­nt in Downing Street. My plans to spend half-term with my wife and two kids went out of the window.

What was it like to be on Downing Street when the Prime Minister made the announceme­nt in a downpour? I’m a Yorkshire Dales boy, so I’m used to getting soaking wet at a moment’s notice. It’s a hazard of the job that you sometimes look less than perfect on camera, and I’m no oil painting to start with. But as always it was a privilege to see this moment playing out.

What’s your typical campaign day like? I’m up around 6.30am in a hotel somewhere, on the phone to the parties within five minutes, and sometimes on air within 15, plugging in kit to talk to Radio 4’s Today programme. Then writing something for the app and the website, and talking to Radio 5 Live. After that, lots of driving in the BBC van, lots of filming and interviewi­ng. Possibly something for The World at One, definitely something for the Six O’Clock News. Then every week night Newscast, our podcast, and re-cutting for the Ten O’Clock News before driving to the next day’s location. Day in and day out. I wanted to be a reporter from the age of seven and never imagined in a million years that I’d do this job. You just crack on.

Are you eating or getting any sleep? One of the tips I was given when I started this job was never forget to eat. That said, we have a BBC van that I work from throughout the campaign, and I have been told I’m very messy – banana skins, wrappers, litter. I thought I wasn’t too bad… But no. I’m knackered so I sleep very well for seven hours.

Is election time the best part of your job? This is a political reporter’s Glastonbur­y. It’s what doing this job is all about. It’s not about us, though. It’s about voters first and candidates second. We, the reporters, matter not a jot.

Do you think voters are engaged? I think so, judging by the number of people stopping me in the street and remarking on how busy I must be. That suggests they’re paying attention. Engagement will crank up the closer we get, because people are savvy and they know it really matters.

How much competitio­n is there with other political editors? We’re all friends – I like them, respect them, chat and joke with them – but there’s rivalry all the time. I’m super-competitiv­e. Do I want to beat them to the story? Too right I do!

Are there new challenges since the 2019 election with AI, fake news and social media? There’s never been a more important time for free, open, fair, impartial journalism that creates a “town hall”, if you like, inviting all views from all parts of the country.

What will you be doing on election night? I’ll do 25 hours straight on the air from the polls closing at 10pm until after the 10 O’Clock News the next day, with no sleep in that window.

When will it officially be over for you? You can add another couple of months to the other side; whatever the outcome, there’ll be a new Cabinet, shedloads of new MPs. I admit, I’m looking forward to a holiday in August. ▷

‘Do I want to beat my rivals to the story? Too right I do!’ CHRIS MASON

 ?? ?? NEWS HOUNDS Mason shares a joke with the BBC’s Faisal Islam and Sky’s Rob Powell
NEWS HOUNDS Mason shares a joke with the BBC’s Faisal Islam and Sky’s Rob Powell

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