David Whiteley: Farewell Inside Out; hello Galaxy Productions (and Christmas!)
PUBLISHED: 15:19 01 December 2020 | UPDATED: 17:18 01 December 2020
As one door opens, another closes... Following the axing of his TV show, David Whiteley now runs his own production company. In his new column, the South Essex-born TV and film director shares memories and experiences of the county he loves
I’m not sure if this has been a year that has dragged or flown by, but it’s certainly been a year most of us will be glad to see the back of. It’s also been one of great change. Changes in the way we behave, interact and socialise (remember that?).
We’d normally be working out whether we actually wanted to go to the office Christmas party. This year we’d be glad of it. Any excuse to drink together and celebrate. Just no kissing under the mistletoe. In fact no kissing, full stop or hugging. Unless you’re in the same bubble.
As we leave 2020, things have been changing for me too, particularly in my working life. In the summer, the BBC announced it was axing my TV show, Inside Out, the current affairs show I’d fronted and produced for getting on for two decades.
Over a zoom call, we were told the programme was cancelled. So, along with many others this year, I found myself facing redundancy. With that, I had to also leave my radio show, which meant my 23 years at the BBC came to an end.
My former colleagues were amazing at giving me the best, Covid-safe, send off they could. We had a ‘rule of six’ gathering in Cambridge to bid farewell to Inside Out and a few drinks, to say the least, after my final radio show. But before that I had to say goodbye to the audience.
As I approached the end of the programme, I could feel my heart rate quicken as we headed towards 1pm. I’d only announced that I was leaving the week before and the response on social media had been humbling and overwhelming. I am truly grateful for the wonderful comments that certainly helped get me through.
So I gathered my thoughts and said what I thought was my final goodbye as a BBC broadcaster, only to be invited to stay for the next hour for a This is Your Life special. The producer had the theme music and a whole host of colleagues and friends, past and present lined up to wish me well.
The first was a former co-worker from my very first days at Essex FM. Clare, who was the travel reporter, then went on to tell everyone how we used to be an item and she had to drive some pink jeep to promote the radio station. I’d forgotten this, and the fact we were referred to as Barbie and Ken!
The next guest on the show was a legend of Essex broadcasting, Roger Buxton. A familiar voice to many thousands on Essex FM and then BBC Essex, I have to admit, that when I heard his voice, I started to well up. Roger was the very person who helped get me into broadcasting in the first place. He’d sorted my work experience out at Essex FM in 1995 and the rest is history.
The whole show was peppered with friends reminiscing with me about the ‘good old days’ and culminated with my wife and daughters on the line, to reduce me to yet more tears.
And then, it was done. Out into the world I skipped. Self-employed, a production company up and running [Galaxy Productions], and a resolute hope that things will work out. It’s daunting, yet exciting.
You may well find yourself in the same boat as me; a lifer in a company, and then suddenly, all change.
If that’s so, good luck to you.
Whatever your future, here’s to a brighter 2021 for all of us. Merry Christmas.