Nicole selected to work on BBC Sports personality of the Year

From Nicole Afford, level 3 LSM student:

BBC Education Partnership – SPOTY 2012: “….never pass up any opportunity in the media, as you never know where it is going to lead you….”

From Olympic heroes to sporting legends, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year was definitely one of the most amazing weekends! It all began with a trip down to Salford’s Media City UK where students were selected through a competition. Anyone who was successful for this day of talks was then guaranteed a voluntary spot at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Rehearsals.

On Saturday 15th December, at half past 4 in the morning, I rose for the first day of volunteering down at London’s Excel. As soon as we got there it was a hub of excitement with lots of students, security and BBC staff wandering around. There I met Michael Passingham and Jade Houlton, both from the University of Lincoln, who were just as excited as I was to be there! We were ushered into the set and given nametags, as we were stand-ins for the various celebrities so the crew could decide on various shots for the show! Cameras, lights, producers and crew were dotting around the set; it was fascinating.

Having completed the first half of the day, we took lunch where I was lucky enough to chat to the vision mixers of the show. Consequently, they invited me and some other students to witness the gallery in operation. The gallery was jam packed, and extremely fast paced; there is most definitely an art to cutting a live show!

As we returned to our seats in the studio, we were greeted by Emelie Sande rehearsing her songs for the show; she was fantastic and naturally talented. Similarly, the BBC Orchestra started to arrive for their practice.

Having arrived at Excel at 7.30am we were all more than ready for our beds by 9.00pm, especially the actual crew, who decided to call it a wrap.

Sunday was the final day of rehearsals before the live show later in the evening. The rehearsals went very smoothly without many technical hitches, however there were a few miscommunications of my own, having accidently taken the role of Nicola Adams, consequently there were two stand-ins who emerged on stage at the same time and secondly I believed Clare Balding was interviewing me when I was a stand in for Ellie Simmonds. I was chatting away when I realised she was asking questions to the director through her mike… both slightly embarrassing but a story to tell! Regardless, the day was fantastic, being interviewed by Gary Lineker and Clare Balding. Giving the Helen Rollason award to Martine Wright in rehearsals was an honour and watching David Beckham…can you believe it!…rehearsing his speech for later that night was crazy.

With the rehearsals done and dusted it was time to nip back to our Premiere Inn, courtesy of the BBC who had given us free tickets to the live show itself, an absolute added bonus! Don’t forget about the breakfast either! The show went off without a hitch and Wiggins was crowned king of sports due to his efforts this year in most namely the Tour de France and Olympics; it was now time to relax and celebrate!

When the show finished sporting heroes from Sir Steve Redgrave to contenders for the SPOTY award such as Kathryn Grainger graced the red carpets with many photo opportunities. But now it was our mission to be invited to the SPOTY after party. Unfortunately, this wasn’t too successful…apparently waiting around the cordoned off area wasn’t going to heighten our chances of getting in… So, we all meandered back to the Novotel hotel bar to have a quiet one before heading back to the Premiere Inn.

At around half 1 I was ready to call it a night, when BBC production crew started to emerge at the bar. The room starts to become fuller and fuller as the producer of the show, Michael Jackson… no not that Michael Jackson… strolled in along with the camera crew whom I got to have a chat to! Alan Shearer also rocked up at the bar, which was amazing!

Again, I was about to call it a night when one of the other students persuaded me to stay, as lo and behold, Bradley Wiggins himself was about to arrive! No word of a lie, Wiggins a little blurry eyed strolled in along with Cath Wiggins in tow. I and the other girls got to have a group hug with Cath Wiggins…a little out of the blue…but it was great to speak to her, she seemed like a real genuine lady.

After plucking up some courage, we strolled over to Wiggins to ask for a photograph, which he was fine about; we consequently got to sit down next to him and have a chat…who would have thought I would get to speak to the SPOTY winner himself! After he realised one of the other students was from Wigan he found nothing else more appropriate then to buy all us students on the table a drink, I mean we were all connected to him now in some way weren’t we?

So, there we were having drinks with Wiggins himself, chanting along to Wonderwall whilst he mocked me briefly about looking like Rebecca Adlington… if I can pass as an athlete, my gym sessions aren’t obviously doing me too badly or alternatively Wiggins had just had too much to drink… Eventually, Wiggins called it a night.

To top my evening, I spot and have a chat with Olympic Ski legend turned Ski Sunday presenter, Graham Bell and the editor of the programme, which is fantastic having been an avid watcher of the programme for four years! After this, I decide it truly is time to call it a night.

That evening plus the rehearsals were definitely the best experience having met some awesome students, gaining an insight into the media industry and meeting sporting heroes and celebrities, it left me in awe! My advice is to never pass up any opportunity in the media, as you never know where it is going to lead you as my weekend most certainly proved!

Nicole F Afford, Level 3 MP