“When I met Michael Palin”

by Phoebe Avbulimen of the ASC Youth Panel

I arrived at the BBC studios filled with excitement for that morning. I had a rough idea of what would be happening that day. I would be meeting Micheal Palin and he would use my story as an example for his Radio 4 Appeal.

When I got the BBC studios, it filled me with as much awe as the first time I came there. Last year in Autumn, I came to the studios on multiple occasions, in the lead up to the Rickshaw challenge, which I did with five other inspiring young people. Memories flooded in. There were many departments making it easy to get lost. After a few phone calls to Alanna and Steven about where I should be, I navigated myself to the correct building. We went through all the necessary security checks before heading in. As soon as we went through the revolving doors, Michael cracked a joke about how much things had changed at the BBC since his time. It put me and I am sure others at ease.

To listen to our BBC Radio 4 Appeal and donate please follow the link.

We were lead downstairs via many narrow hallways until we eventually we arrived in the radio room. When they said it would be a “tight squeeze” they weren’t exaggerating. There were two small rooms. One for speaking and the other for recording. The speaking room had two radio microphones. The recording room was filled with savvy radio and DJing equipment that took up almost half the room. I sat in the recording room with Michael and Jo.

As soon as we were settled, we jumped straight into recording. I listened to Micheal as he read out the script. He had a smooth, silvery voice which was extremely captivating. The first take was enthralling. Michael’s voice had gravitas and the kind of melodic intonation you could listen to for hours. He spoke about his father’s stammer. How he was inspiration for many of his well-known characters such as Ken, in “a fish named Wanda”. He spoke about how the stammer affected his father’s life: when his stammer was very severe he would retire from speaking all together. I could relate to this feeling also. It reminded me of the classroom at school, when I too would avoid speaking, even if I knew the answer.

To listen to our BBC Radio 4 Appeal and donate please follow the link.

After the first take, the decision was made to shorten the script. Immediately, we all sieved through the script looking for all the unnecessary words that could be omitted and rephrasing sentences into a more concise fashion. We all had the opportunity to chip in and say our piece, including me. After a few tweaks, it was a wrap.

Now it was time for the voice boom. A completely informal, unplanned, spontaneous conversation with Michael and I. The conversation was centred around my personal experiences with the charity and having a stammer. As I recalled moments from the lowest points from my speech, I felt a pang of emotion. The conversation flowed and felt natural. Michael asked the correct questions and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. As I spoke, I could see the others in the recording room, via the glass that separated us. They were all listening with attentiveness. I saw my mum smiling and nodding at me to continue. At the end, we all went outside to take photos. It was early March and the sky was bright. I was gleeful and gleaming after the productive morning. The photographer, a nice man from Clapham, guided us on where to stand. I had a massive grin on my face as did Michael. When the photographer was satisfied, a few minutes later, we all said our goodbyes. It was emotional for me and I felt privileged to be apart of this impactful project.

Later that week, back at university, I strolled down the ASC Instagram page. They had posted the photos from that day. I smiled as I thought back to that enjoyable morning.

To listen to our BBC Radio 4 Appeal and donate please follow the link.

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