Interview: Charlotte Green on BBC 5 live
Charlotte Green has been interviewed by Mark Pougatch ahead of her debut reading the classified football results BBC Radio 5 live this weekend.
Here’s how it went:
Mark Pougatch: Well Charlotte, congratulations. Not every day that somebody new, not for 40 years of course, is asked to read the football results. When the phone rang and BBC management said would you like to come and read the football results what was your immediate reaction?
Charlotte Green: A certain amount of shock, I really hadn’t expected it to be the case that somebody would ring and say would you like to do it. In fact I remember my first words were ‘goodness well you’re pushing at an open door’, and I was thrilled, absolutely delighted, it’s an enormous honour. It’s something that I had always dreamt of doing when I was a child, in fact I used to sit at the kitchen table when I was about six reading the football results, and to be asked to do it and come and do it for real a mere 50 years later is quite something.
MP: Because when you left the BBC staff you were quoted as saying weren’t ‘one of the things I still want to do in my career is read the results’, but when you read that you had no idea that the possibility was even there?
CG: I had no idea at all, it was just one of those things I said off the cuff. It was something that I always felt I would have loved to have done, never thinking that I would eventually be able to do it and be given the opportunity.
MP: So tell us a little bit about the little girl, the little Charlotte who was reading the results at the kitchen table, was it a football household as it were?
CG: Not particularly, my father was very, very keen on all sports, rugby in particular. But funnily enough he was an Arsenal fan, and I am a Tottenham fan. Not because I wanted to be at odds with my father, in fact we had a very good relationship and got on very well and we talked a lot about sport and went to rugby matches together. I think it was because when I was little I used to read a lot of football magazines and I was always reading about this wonderful double-winning Spurs side of 1961. They seemed to be a team that played with a lot of flair and I really liked that and I also liked the name, so aged six I adopted Spurs and they have been my team ever since.
MP: Did your father try and put you right. Did he say there’s no daughter of mine who’s going to support the archrivals of my team?
CG: No, he was wonderful, he just laughed and shrugged his shoulders!
MP: Did you grow up in North London, is that why there was Arsenal in his life?
CG: No, I think he was a supporter of Arsenal because he could remember as a small child the great Arsenal sides under Herbert Chapman in the 1930’s, so I think for him it was historical.
MP: Did you go to Football, whether it be it Arsenal or Tottenham or whoever, did you go and watch football growing up?
CG: Off and on, off and on. Not a huge amount but I certainly followed them very keenly. I read every single match report I could lay my hands on. I watched a lot of television coverage and of course Grandstand was the absolute staple diet of my Saturday afternoons.
MP: So have you met any of the great Tottenham heroes when you were working at the BBC? Have you met Glenn Hoddle or Chris Waddle or anybody like this?
Charlotte Green: Do you know I haven’t. My hero growing up was Pat Jennings the goalkeeper, he had enormous hands. I liked him, he was a quiet person but did a fantastic job in goal for Spurs.
MP: He has the biggest hands I think in Great Britain doesn’t he?
Charlotte Green: Is that so! I was always struck in photographs from these various football magazines that I read how enormous, even though he was wearing gloves obviously which make them look bigger, huge hands!
MP: So you read the news for a long time, obviously on the BBC particularly on Radio 4. You’ve had to read out some very serious stories, some very upsetting stories. Will you be nervous on Saturday afternoon?
Charlotte Green: Yes I freely admit to that, I will be nervous. It’s inevitable when you’re doing something different and new, but also because the football results have this iconic place in radio history, its terribly significant, and for me to be given the opportunity to read them is a huge honour and a privilege and I take it very seriously. I will be nervous, my heart will be pumping quite a bit.
MP: So of course you remember listening to the results, being at the other end of the radio many Saturdays over, as a little girl and when you grew up?
Charlotte Green: Very much so.
MP: And would you father have silence when the results were read out?
Charlotte Green: Yes actually! He wasn’t a dictatorial man at all but actually yes, silence for the football results.
MP: James, a wonderful man and a legend of broadcasting, and had a very particular style, which I don’t think he deliberately set out to have its just the way that it developed, and everybody in the UK in the end knew pretty much what the result was after he read out the score of the first team. Have you thought about whether you are going to have a particular style?
Charlotte Green: I haven’t thought about that too deeply, I think what I’ve got to do is just have my own style, develop my own style and be true to that. You can only be true to yourself otherwise it sounds ridiculously fake. And in fact James sent me a lovely email when it was announced that I would be taking over. He is a very fine broadcaster but also a lovely man and he said to me in that email ‘Make it your own’ and that’s what I intend to do.
MP: So you would say to people listening, let me be myself and I will do the best that I can and you will see what sort of broadcaster I am as time goes on?
Charlotte Green: Very much so. I hope people will approach it with an open mind. I have my own particular style and I can assure them that I love football, I love broadcasting and I will do it the very best of my ability.
MP: And how will you deal with the fact that you will at some stage Charlotte have to read out a result in which Tottenham have lost?
Charlotte Green: Yes sadly, that will happen and I know it will! I just have to be utterly professional about it, there’s no question, I mean you can’t let any particular interest of your own show through at all and that’s something I have learned working with Radio 4 as a news reader; you have to be completely professional and whether they’ve won or lost or drawn people will never know that I am a Spurs supporter from the way I read that result.
MP: Are there any names that you’re a little bit hesitant about. When you listen to James, you think, well Dunfermline Athletic sounds a bit of mouthful?
Charlotte Green: Well, the one that everybody talks about of course, is the nightmare result of East Fife 4, Forfar 5 which I hope I never have to read out but if I do I shall just have to take a running jump at it.
MP: Well we have the Welsh scores now of course…
Charlotte Green: I will be checking the pronunciations of the Welsh teams before I go on air, I can assure you.
MP: We’re very lucky those of us who work at BBC Radio, particularly those in the sports department, particularly when we have, ‘Out of the Blue’, the very famous signature tune – it’s the oldest radio sports programme in the world. I mean, you’re used to working globally, when it comes to radio, have been the first of its type. Will you be aware of that when you read the results for the first time – that this is a history and a heritage which goes back an awful long way.
Charlotte Green: I’m very aware of that. I’m actually very interested in the history of radio and it is a very significant programme. I’ll be acutely aware of that, and, as I say, trying to do my very best.
MP: And of the fact that it is not just the UK, it’s around the world. When James retired particularly in the days before we had internet and television more prevalently available globally, James’ voice was the way that people accessed results literally all the way around the world, so you will be aware of the global impact you’re going to have?
Charlotte Green: Indeed and that adds a totally new dimension to it. Yes it will have a huge global audience.
MP: What about the fact that you are a woman reading the football results?
Charlotte Green: Yes to be honest I was quite surprised that there was such a response to the fact that it’s a woman reading them for the first time. In a way it shouldn’t matter what gender you are, what matters is that you do a good, professional job and that’s something that I really aim to do.