Few months ago I became part of BBC Generation 2015, a ground-breaking BBC project involving 18-24 year olds in the run up to the general election. Here is the story of how I managed to secure a place on the project, and the many times I thought I’d failed only to be proved wrong…
I remember it well. It was just over three months ago now - 3rd March 2015, to be precise – and I was up early at 6.30am, ready for a 9am seminar at King’s College London on Dombey and Son. I checked my emails, as I do by habit every morning, and was very surprised to see an email from the BBC. I was even more surprised to see it was about BBC Generation 2015, a project I’d applied to which planned to draw 200 young people from across the UK together, to stimulate debate and use for BBC General Election coverage. I’d applied for it just a few weeks before, but a lot had happened in-between; and having seen others on twitter attending interviews for two weeks beforehand, I’d assumed I’d missed my chance and hadn’t been picked.
As it turned out, I had, but because of an unfortunate email mix-up (involving an ‘h’ where one shouldn’t have been) I’d missed all the London-held interview days. Well, all but one – but that day happened to be 3rd March 2015. But I wasn’t about to throw this chance away – so I agreed I’d attend, and after making my excuses to rush out of my seminar fifteen minutes early, I trekked over to BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, arriving just in time to start.
It was an absolutely fascinating three hours – the people there had been pulled together from all backgrounds, beliefs and walks of life, and the discussion – centred largely around politics, as you might have guessed – was never dull or rudimentary. The diversity of thought in the room threw up some fascinating coalitions as Green and UKIP supporters joined together to criticise TTIP and Conservative voters of different shades debated benefit policy; the one unifier I noticed was support for increased mental health awareness and support.
That, and getting a unanimous ovation when I told the group about my nomination for the National Diversity Awards for raising autism awareness – which I really wasn’t expecting! Unfortunately, I had to leave early to attend another seminar – but as I was rushing away from BBC Broadcasting House, salmon sandwich shoved quickly into my mouth before dashing off, ready to translate and perform some Old English poetry in class, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun the experience had been.
And then four weeks passed and I didn’t get a call, email or notification, so I figured that I hadn’t been selected; that that rousing ovation hadn’t melted the hearts of the Beeb after all, and that my 3rd March trip would be my last. So I settled back into revision and coursework writing, until one day at the tail end of March. I’d just enjoyed a leisurely train journey and long walk home, having completed my first exam of 2015. I was expecting my afternoon journey through the green fields of Orpington (Greater London’s Greenest Borough, by the way) to be followed by a relaxing afternoon. Instead, I got an extremely pleasant surprise when I opened my inbox to find I’d been selected after all! Oh, and I needed to write a blurb and send over some pictures. And film a video and send that over too – as soon as possible!
It was a hectic afternoon, but it was well worth it because the next Monday my face was up on the BBC website for all to see – I was even given my own BBC webpage – and I was a fully-fledged member of Generation 2015! But it didn’t end there – despite having to juggle it with dissertation and essay writing, I also managed to appear on Victoria Derbyshire, filmed a video for World Autism Awareness Day, and got involved in a number of twitter discussions with ‘In My Shoes’. And most excitingly of all – I got to appear on the BBC’s 2015 election night! But that’s a story for another time…
You can read Jonathan’s Generation 2015 profile here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31930358
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