The Midland was the name of Big Centre’s original daily news programme. The main anchor was Bob Hall with Lois Swinnerton, Roshni Patel and Monika Plaha also presenting on a regular basis.
In November 2015, Big Centre went through a rough patch. A number of people were made redundant and various programmes were slimmed down, re-jigged, altered or combined with others to help save money. My magazine co-host Chanelle Shea-Calvin was very sadly made redundant, and one of the altered programmes was The Big Centre Magazine. Chanelle was such a loss to the station. I guess I was lucky at that point because although I presented and produced, my actual main ‘day job’ was as one of the studio directors who alternated between the remaining studio-based programmes (however, our working hours were reduced for a while).
The Midland Weekend Edition was essentially a combination of the regular weekend news bulletin, my magazine programme, the what’s on show, and items from other programmes, all pulled together to be played at the weekend.
The programme was produced week by week, in turn, by the 3 studio directors Tom Russon, Tom Wilkinson and me (obviously my name isn’t Tom, ha ha), and I continued to occasionally present.
One of the ‘innovations’ that I’d brought to the Magazine was the community news, which I’d titled Community Noticeboard, so I lobbied for this to be retained as the ‘new’ news segment in the Weekend Edition (the rest of the news items being presented as a ‘review of the week’). This worked and I’m happy to say that my Community Noticeboard continued all the way through to the time when the rest of us left the station.
It’s no secret that this was quite a difficult time for Big Centre, for many reasons, and the break-up of much of the original team was hard on everyone concerned. However those of us who remained pulled together and managed to settle down into a nice, tight group with the programmes we continued to make. For any anoraks or TV geeks reading this, think of how TV-am got through their mid-80s problems, although our situation was quite different, that similar spirit of camaraderie – despite a number of technical hiccups – got us through and made us stronger.
For me, The Midland Weekend Edition is a good example of keeping calm and carrying on, against the odds. And I think we did all right, you know.