Engineering radio days in Central London has its definite disadvantages – early mornings, hectic schedules and don’t even get me started on the lack of toilet breaks. But where sound engineering comes into its own in terms of work perks is the array of characters you get to meet, converse with and experience their talents first hand.
Never have these advantages been more apparent than recently, when we had a current and former children’s laureate in studio. Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell had written and illustrated ‘A Great Big Cuddle – Poems for the Very Young’, respectively.
As it turns out they were poems for the very young and, like me, the very young at heart.
Upon arriving in our Clerkenwell studio, you’d be forgiven for thinking Chris and Michael had known each other for years. They had a natural rapport that developed into a back-and-forth that could rival ‘The Two Ronnies’ and it was an absolute wonder to behold first-hand.
From the very first interview, both Michael and Chris were bouncing off the walls, Michael reading his poems with an unrivalled enthusiasm that properly engaged the interviewer (and therefore, hopefully, the listener). However, Michael and Chris have rarely, if at all, spent any time with one another in a physical space.
Chris’ illustrations, which perfectly compliment the sing-song intonation of Michael’s short, sharp poetry were the creation of both minds working completely independently, but somehow in sync – two masters of their craft at work.
As Michael delighted the airwaves with his ability to bring the written word to life, Chris was frantically doodling a timeline of the day, some of which you’ll find littered across this post.
As someone who is artistically stunted (everything I draw ends up looking like a horse, except horses) it boggled the mind to watch a perfect cartoon of the scene in front of me come to life on the page. Delicately weaving in the various jokes, poetry puns (John Para-Keats, anyone?) and set-ups they’d come up with during the interview, often while they were happening.
It became apparent how these two had somehow, completely independent of one another, worked so brilliantly together.
Chris and Michael, from a radio perspective, were an absolute dream team. They painted the perfect picture with their words and made their children’s book properly come to life.
You can listen to Michael and Chris’ fantastic interview with BBC Radio Kent’s Dominic King below.
By Stuart Buchanan