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Telling It Straight

Honesty and balance are the values respected BBC broadcast journalist Anne Davie s has strived for throughout her inspiring media career. PUKAAR MAGAZINE asked the Leicestershire -based award – winning news anchor to share her own story and tell us what she is expecting from this special summer time.

Leicester and our county are very close to the heart of Anne Davies, who launched her awardwinning journalism career at BBC Radio Leicester.

Leicestershire is also the county she calls home and Leicester’s Cultural Quarter is just one of the places this former student of Drama and English loves to spend time.

A much-loved and respected presenter for BBC East Midlands Today since 2001. Anne has helped reflect developments right across the region in an equal fashion. Her coverage of the shocking disappearance of Madeleine McCann also helped the weekday evening
show win Best Television Programme in the Royal Television Society Awards.

Off camera Anne is a gourmet, a wife and mother, and a passionate patron of the charity Macmillan Cancer Support Leicestershire and Rutland, helping raise £100,000 over the last six years since her father was nursed by Macmillan.

Anne, what are the most challenging Leicesterhire stories you’ve reported for BBC East Midlands Today?

It has to be the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I was sent to Rothley on the Monday after she went. I know Rothley very well and have many friends who live in and around the village. My children go to school nearby. My friends know Madeleine’s mother.

As our programme went to air that night the centre of Rothley filled with people and with silence. The candle that still burns was lit and every heart there prayed for that little girl to be found. I shall never forget it and I don’t think anyone else who was there that night will either. Sadly the candle still burns.

How do you keep your emotions in check?

My job as a presenter is to give you, the audience, as clear and honest a picture of what is happening in our region as I possibly can. We need to provide you with, as far as possible, every side of the story so that you can make your own mind up. To that end my emotions are irrelevant and it is only right that I keep them in check.

After all, what can seem fair and reasonable from one point of view can be perceived as outrageous and biased from another. However, that said, the other quality I believe is of the utmost importance in a news presenter is honesty and to show no emotion at all on certain stories would be dishonest. Ultimately it’s all about balance.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in Leicester as a reporter and presenter in the region?

Change is a strange thing. It sort of creeps up on you when you’re not looking and then one day you open your eyes and everything is completely different.

I’ve been in Leicester now for longer than I’ve been anywhere else and, despite moving away for a few years when I was on GMTV, there is something about the county that always draws me back. There have, of course, been huge changes but there is also something timeless and constant about Leicestershire that keeps it connected to a truly colourful past – the years of fascinating history that will hopefully live forever in the county.

When I started out in Leicester having an elected Mayor was inconceivable, but Leicester seems to be paving the way, with other cities now looking at the possibility themselves. And then the fabulous improvements in our city’s arts quarter: Curve and Phoenix Square for example. As a former student of Drama and English one of my big treats is to go to the theatre and Curve is such a great place to be. The staff are always so nice and so helpful, and the productions I have seen there were truly outstanding. I wept buckets at the Umbrellas of Cherbourg and longed to take up tap dancing again after 42nd Street!

Can you pinpoint any particular stories or interviews that have helped keep your passion for journalism alive?

It may sound corny, but pretty well every story I do keeps my passion alive. It is a hugely privileged job. One that allows you to enter another person’s world, share their life, their hopes, their desires, their work and their passions for those few moments you are with them. It can be hugely challenging, heartrending nearly always fascinating and, when you’re lucky, truly inspiring.

And every now and again you get to meet a giant – only a few months ago, Michel Legrand, the legendary composer was at Curve, and ever so slightly star-struck, so was I.

What are you most looking forward to covering during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations?

What a year 2012 is going to be. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and her tour of Britain starting with us here in Leicester – and not just the Queen but the Duchess of Cambridge too. On top of that, the Olympics. With so much focus on our region, with Loughborough University playing such an integral role, it looks like being a fabulous year and one that we’ll be wholeheartedly reflecting on the programme.

One of my favourite parts of the job is the Outside Broadcast. Being out of the studio is always that bit more unpredictable and exciting. Chatting to people out and about, reacting to whatever happens. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of that with everything going on in 2012. The Olympics have a special place in my heart too, as my husband is an Olympian – a freestyle swimmer. It was a long time ago now, but his delight in the Games is something he has passed to all of us in the family.

What’s a typical day as a presenter for East Midlands Today?

Well, I get to work usually in time for the afternoon meeting, which is hosted by the day’s producer and attended by all the presenters, the director, graphics, technical manager, camera diary, production assistant and others. Here we go through the night’s running order, find out what outside broadcasts there are and where, what interviews are required and who our guests are.

It can take anything from five to 25 minutes depending upon how much there is to discussand invariably which court cases are still
hearing and stories still breaking.

The programme that goes to air at 6.30pm is not the same as the one we thought we’d be doing at 3pm.

Sometimes I have been out filming that day, so then it’s even more of a rush especially if the story is for that night’s programme. Then you have to juggle writing your script and editing with all of the above. On days like that your co-presenter always takes up the slack and helps out. It’s all about partnership and a team effort – no one person can put that programme on the air – because each person is an integral part of the end product.

Do you ever worry about the news profession?

I do occasionally worry that news can lose its edge when it stops following its goals and passion and becomes too

hidebound by rules and regulations. But equally without certain rules and regulations there is only mayhem and that is a freedom that is not worth having. So once again that word “balance” comes back. And when the world is in balance then I think we have achieved a state that cannot be much improved upon.

Are you still working towards any goals?

I have goals all the time. Sometimes they’re really simple. I’m always trying not to be late for things, but how it just never seems to work I do not know. And there are bigger goals too, all sorts of things… learning to fly, achieve more qualifications, read more, write more – the list goes on and on. To be honest I have all sorts of goals all of the time. Once you stop having goals in life what’s left?

How do you relax?

The best place I can possibly relax is in my own kitchen. I love every part of it and if I’m feeling down then, sad as it may seem, chopping an onion or measuring out some flour puts a song in my heart again. So as you can gather I just love to cook. Perhaps that is one of my ambitions and goals then – to be on the Great British Bake off. Apart from cooking I am, sadly, very good at relaxing indeed. Give me some chocolate and a movie, or a book or a magazine, a sofa, my kids and the dog and I really don’t need anything else.


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