Felicity Spector, Writer, London

felicityspectorThis week, Hannah Hoskins interviewed Felicity Spector, Chief Writer at Channel 4 News, and dessert-obsessed food writer

I don’t have a typical Monday, so here’s a snapshot of just one, Monday 26th September.

This happened to be the day after my second night of birthday parties. Those party plans had been thrown awry after I failed to realize I was working over the weekend and arrived home just thirty minutes before all the guests turned up. Luckily everyone rallied to the cause, bringing food, cakes, and cooking in my kitchen. New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel even sent me a cake. It was an amazing night, but it meant that Monday morning was a bit of a blur.

The wonderful Italian food writer Eleonora Galasso had stayed in my spare room after the party, so I made us both strong espressos from my beloved Sage Barista machine, before dashing off to work. I was slightly late for the editorial meeting where we discuss the day’s news (due to a queue for a free Waitrose coffee en route to the office), but thankfully I arrived in time for the crucial part about the US presidential debates. Due to exhaustion and an excess of caffeine, I can’t actually remember much more about what was said.

Monday morning was as busy as always: calling the channel to check running times, sorting the daily running order with the programme editor, suggesting people to interview, and going through social media. On top of that, there’s always a noon bulletin to keep an eye on, and this Monday there were also emails from our teams at the US election debate, and the Labour conference in Liverpool to deal with.

I always mean to go to a pilates class at lunchtime, but this has actually never happened. My excuse today was that I needed to nip home to finish the cleaning up from last night’s party. Luckily I live a 15 minute walk from work, so I could quickly dash there and back, picking up another coffee on the way.

At 2.15pm I have another editorial meeting. This time I take copious notes as I have to write a trail for the channel and a daily email to viewers, which outlines what we’re covering on the show. I then ate lunch at my desk while listening to a podcast (OK, I was listening to the Archers). Normally I go to a fantastic place called John Charlick Foods which does amazing salads and things, but this Monday I had a great selection of party leftovers — lentils and burnt aubergine, beetroot borane, and labneh with dill.

Then it was on with my main day job: writing the night’s news. I write everything the newsreaders read out, apart from their very top headlines and the live interviews. We have to keep to very strict time limits, so most scripts are about 25 seconds long. Our lead story this Monday was about the bombing of Aleppo — another grim day in the Syrian conflict. The news is rarely cheery. If new developments happen I often have to change the script at the last minute, and if new stories suddenly break I have to find a way of getting them onto the show, along with the relevant pictures, graphics, and other details. It’s an intense few hours. At 4pm I have another coffee, accompanied by a slice of birthday cake number two — an amazing carrot cake from Lily Vanilli.

At 6.30pm I check the legally contentious scripts with the compliance lawyer, before dashing into the studio minutes before going on air at 7pm. I always take a cup of mint tea in with me: it’s my moment of calm (and the studio is quite chilly ).

We have to come off air at exactly 19:57:30, so the show is constantly timed. This means I’m always shortening or lengthening scripts while we’re on air. This Monday was busy as an interview we were doing from Oslo was late, and the Liverpool debate went on for longer than planned, so I had to hack back several scripts pretty quickly. Once off air we had a quick debrief, before I dashed off to dinner.

I always go out to dinner. Today I was at a preview of a chestnut menu at Rivea London. I met my friend Kylee Newton from Newton and Pott Preserves at the restaurant and we had an amazing meal — chestnut velouté with ricotta ravioli, chestnut blini with gravadlax, scallops with chestnuts and pumpkin, and a chestnut and pear crumble Vacherin. It ended with (yet) another coffee. I got home after a bit of a fandango on the tube, and tried to stay awake for the first US presidential debate. Despite all the coffee, I couldn’t manage more than the opening remarks at 2am. It had, after all, been quite a day.

Instagram: @felicityspector

Twitter: @felicityspector

Hannah Hoskins is Entertain/Holiday Editor at The Daily Meal

She blogs at http://honeyandricotta.blogspot.com

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