Trevor's six-pack

In my old job at Sky I wasn't recognised often. One woman was convinced she knew me because she thou

After all the feverish build-up to the relaunch I hadn't quite prepared myself for spending day one in the company of a stripping granny and an inventor of a new plant-watering system. But such was the reality of being a guest of This Morning on ITV1 - on the sofa with the estimable Phil'n'Fern. TV newsrooms are a world away from proper telly like this. The green room, where you wait before your turn in front of the cameras, is a glitzy circus where all life is welcome. Photos of Cilla and Les Dennis beam down from the walls.

The inventor delights in giving me the rundown of how his product works, and asks me what I'm "in" for. I tell him it's an interview about the comeback of News at Ten. "Ooooh yes," he replies. "It's with that Trevor McDonald, isn't it? What are you doing on it then?" "Er, I'm presenting it with him," I reply sheepishly. I know my place.

What pecs!

The battle of the bongs has given us, and the rest of the media, much amusement. The Guardian speculates about who would win a real-life scrap - Huw and Fiona against Trevor and me - and plumps for the BBC combo. Given that the lovely Fiona is about a foot taller than me, she would probably walk it, but Huw, beware. Sir Trevor is in seriously good shape - slim-hipped and straight-backed. He's been in training to be in as trim a state as possible for his big comeback. So don't mess. I've lost count of the times he's told me he's been in the gym, or on the tennis court. He even does a few exercises before retiring to bed, at about the same time as I'm necking a post-programme glass of wine.

Dirty linen

My first week proves a sharp lesson in the perils of being recognised. In my old job at Sky, it happened rarely. One woman was convinced she knew me because she thought I worked at M&S in Richmond. A trip to the supermarket, and I'm aware of a few stares. One man tilts his head round as I'm packing the shopping. Less welcome is the snapper who photographs me coming out of the dry-cleaner's. This leaves my heart racing and mouth dry. I'm curious to know what the story might be. As I write, that gem hasn't come to light. Newsreader in Dirty Linen Shock?

A more reassuring aspect is the number of people who've got in touch to wish me luck. "The Posse will be watching" is one text I get from a girlfriend near home. My old boss at Sky, Nick Pollard, calls me from India. I even get a text blessing from a priest friend. My mum rings to tell me about a piece in the Leicester Mercury - the paper in my home town. They've dug out a photo of me as a schoolgirl, dodgy perm and all.

Much interest in the comeback of the fabled "And finally . . ." Does it mean skateboarding ducks and hamsters with passports will find a place on the news once more? We come across the story of the moose trapped in the ice. The newsroom is divided. One camp cries that we can't possibly do an animal story in week one. The other says the pictures are great and it's got to run. The latter wins. My lovely cleaner tells me she really enjoyed the new programme, "especially the moose - oh it was amazing - it nearly made me cry". Job done.

Green gherkin

As the hours count down, the team are pale with concentration and adrenalin. Trev and I joke nervously about the quickest way to the airport. One of the things to get right is a trail on the evening news presented by Mark Austin and Mary Nightingale. All four of us need to be in the studio in the basement, but mysteriously Mark goes missing. After 20 minutes, knocking is heard from a lift. Trevor and I are told in no uncertain terms to use the stairs for the rest of the evening.

Into the studio and a strange green world, the colour of AstroTurf. Apart from the desk and chairs, the rest of the set is computer-generated. This means special make-up and avoiding any clothes that are remotely green. Turn to interview a guest or correspondent on one screen, and that in reality means turning to talk to a spot on the wall, marked with green tape. Time and care are taken to line up the shots. It would be strangely appropriate to have the halo-like London Eye circling Trevor's head, but I'm keen to learn that I don't have the Gherkin growing out of mine.

This article first appeared in Merchant adventurer

2008-01-28