From education to employment

Borders College Students Meet the Debate Night Team

On the 6th November 2019, a young team of fresh-faced college students made their way to the Heart of Hawick to lend their hand for the filming of the BBC Debate Night episode that was taking place there.

BBC Debate night is a show on BBC Scotland. The show is similar to its older sibling “Question Time”, except on a local scale, talking to politicians representing certain areas of Scotland as well as inviting people affected by these MPs and MSPs.

The parties/organizations represented on the show that night included the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, SNP, the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, and the Labour Party. A large audience was also invited, representing different parts of the Scottish Borders, meaning that the students had many tasks to accomplish to ensure the night went smoothly.

The students of the NPA journalism course at Borders College arrived at 1:30pm to act as runners for the debate show. The first main task was building the set. There was a lot of heavy lifting and running back and forth. After taking a break and having a hearty meal in the evening, the show was beginning to come together.

Other tasks that the students were requested to do included having to sit in the panellists’ chairs to allow the camera crew to align their cameras to the perfect angle. The students also had to stretch their legs out and see if they could touch the BBC Debate Night disc on the floor with their feet. If so, their chair was moved back and repositioned. The Floor Manager also asked the students if they could see each other without having to lean forward, which was important because this would stop panellists from blocking any other members of the panel from the camera.

Once this was finished, the camera crew asked the students if any of them wanted to work the camera. Ross jumped at the opportunity. He learnt how to focus the lens on a particular shot as well as how to zoom in and out without destabilising the camera. He also learnt how to add peaking which is deciding how sharp he wanted to make the image.

Another of the jobs the students were assigned was at reception in which they would sign guests in by asking for ID and email confirmation. The task was given to Reagan and Ruth who enjoyed their experience at reception, which included funny moments with two security guards as well.

After watching and enjoying the show as part of the audience, it was finally time to pack up. The students began to deconstruct the set – bringing the backdrop and chairs through the dark and back into the moving van – take a few photos, and have one last talk with Caitlin about apprentice opportunities and careers in the industry, before parting ways and returning home after nine hours of hard work.

The students all appeared to enjoy the day very much. Being away from school was a big enough incentive; however, a chance to partake in an exciting experience with the BBC and to meet a few notable figures related to the organisation offered a brilliant chance for students to step out of their comfort zones and have experiences which may help them in their retrospective careers.

At the end of the night, everyone was rewarded with some Star Wars-themed M&S chocolates as a “thank you” for the work done that day, which went down a fair treat. This was a terrific experience and was thoroughly enjoyed by the college students and provided an excellent taster of what the television line of work had to offer if they were ever going to go into that line of business.

Written by – Ruth Ridley, Scott Milliken, Sean Tennant, Finlay White, Ross Lothian and Reagan MacQueen. Edited by – Louise Dalgliesh, Adam Sloan and Sam Young-Ferguson

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