Last Friday, you may have seen my face sprayed across the homepage of the BBC website in a bizarre twist of fate where I became an overnight internet sensation…even if it was for 24 hours! This began when I decided that I needed to expand my audience and attempt to elevate Beyond The Title to heights which it had never seen before. I’m determined that 2019 will be the year that I come from behind my iPad and step into the entertainment spotlight. My ambition is to hopefully become a recognised writer and journalist who can attract the biggest names in Britain to his podcast series.
I am under no illusion of just how difficult it would be for me to take part in a standard interview. Television moves at such a fast rate that it would be impossible for producers to devote enough air time for me to speak at my normal rate. If I were to do this it would require a lot of work from both my PAs and production staff to ensure that I would be able to fit the small time slot. Yet the irony is that I believe that the only way to develop a personal rapport with the public is for them to see me as myself but it’s extremely difficult to do this given the obvious communication barrier. I would really love to be able to speak as eloquently as Sir Ian McKellen and in my head I do. Yet when I open my mouth, the sound of a strangulated Yoda seeps out! Luckily all of my personal assistants are able to understand me and can translate for me when I need it so I have no problem in regards to making myself understood it’s just about how this would work in a broadcasting situation.
Yet last Monday I was lucky enough to welcome a BBC radio crew to my house where they turned the tables and interviewed me about my recent book release and Beyond The Title. I appeared on BBC Radio Solent last year following Lost Voice Guy’s victory on Britain’s Got Talent providing reaction from a fellow Cerebral Palsy sufferer within the Arts but now this was a feature all about me and my achievements and it felt great! Not that I want to fly the flag for disability as I feel it would be slightly contradictory with what I do but if I can get some wide exposure for Beyond The Title by doing this then that’s what I do. I imagined that the reporter would just do a similar interview to what they had previously done on the phone and it would be a five minute excerpt which would be great to listen to but wouldn’t be the key to national acclaim…how wrong I was?!
When they arrived they asked to film me for a piece on their website and social media which I wholeheartedly agreed to thinking that any exposure is good exposure, even if it is local BBC radio. It was here I realised the simple equipment required to make a quality broadcast, knowing how much sound resources I have to undertake my interviews. They took shots of every aspect of the development of my writing from me writing with my nose on an iPad to the way I propel myself in my wheelchair. Indeed the biggest hurdle was to attempt to include my speech in an appropriate way without the viewer getting too lost in understanding me. This is always easier when you’re in a visual medium as the use of subtitles is the perfect solution. Encapsulating all of these elements into a two minute clip, they were able to do a fantastic job.
So when I woke on Friday morning, I thought it would be any old day, I certainly wasn’t ready for the utter bizarre twenty four hours that was about to unfold. At 8 o’clock on Friday morning I was awoken by my PA James informing me that I was the number three trending story on the BBC website – was I still dreaming? I couldn’t be trending on bbc.co.uk, it’s impossible but sure enough when I got up I realised that James wasn’t lying. The kind BBC had also included a link to the website within their report and I was excited by just how much traffic Beyond The Title would receive. By 1pm we already had 2000 visitors to the website and I was completely overwhelmed by the reception it had received. Finally people were seeing my face and hearing my words and it just felt amazing!
Throughout the day I was truly humbled by the amount of heartfelt messages I received on various platforms whether it was people sending me Facebook messages or those getting in touch through the contact section on my website. This adoration certainly gives you a lift and it’s incredible to think about just how many people have perused your work. This is exactly what I was looking for and I’m just so overwhelmed that I’ve been lucky enough to get it. A massive thank you has to go to Dominic Blake and James Warwick from BBC Radio Solent for doing such a great job in telling my story in such a respectable manner. It didn’t feel like the story was about a disabled man battling his adversity, instead it was just an accurate reflection of me and where I am in my life as an entertainment professional.
The story was so widespread that it was even the subject of the National Anthem section on Steve Lemaq’s BBC 6 Music show presented by Huw Stephens who was sitting in for the cult broadcaster. The feature allows listeners to suggest an appropriate song to accompany a news story and incredibly my book was chosen as the story. Eventually the consensus decided that the song which best described my plight was Elvis Costello and The Attractions’ Every Day I Write The Book which was ironic because I actually happen to love this song. Such a great day kept getting better!
Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, I realised that I had made BBC South Today at 6:30. This was a great shock and was the perfect ending to a fantastic day. A day when I was fighting with Teresa May, Brexit and Donald Trump as to who would remain in the top five BBC trending news stories. It was a feeling that I could get used to and I really hope I do in the coming years. In the meantime I’ll cherish it and feel a great sense of accomplishment every time I think about it.
After such a crazy week I felt like I wanted to write a celebratory blog about my fifteen minutes of fame and it has definitely brought me closer to my 2019 ambition to elevate myself to a recognised writer and journalist. Yet I would still love the opportunity to expand my notoriety even further and attract even more big characters to the Beyond The Title microphone. So let’s keep our fingers crossed and maybe one day Josh Barry will take on the universe!