Neil Oliver

I thought I knew what my show would be about - what GBN would be about - but it turns out I didn't. It has been a revelation.

I have found myself within a group of people - production, tech, and presenters et al - ready to stand up for something and take the inevitable brick bats.

I have found myself confronted by fellow presenters I agree with, and others I don’t agree with at all. This is a very good thing, because it leaves me no alternative but to come up with better stuff of my own in a conversation. I have been given enough rope to hang myself, which is liberating because it makes a person stay awake and pay attention.

I watch GBN in my downtime and sometimes I cheer at what is being said, and at other times I want to throw things at the screen. This is as it should be, because it is a broad church. My own show has taught me more about life (and the vagaries of technology) in a short space of time than I would have thought possible.

In the course of my show and talking with my guests I have met and spoken to such a broad range of people it makes me want to laugh or cry or both at how much I've learned. It has been an education, a privilege and just the best fun.

I have continued to receive letters from around the world of such intimacy and profundity it makes me gasp with appreciation. I have been pilloried on social media and also received the most heart- building messages of support. I welcome both.

My time at GBN so far has been about a gazillion times more affecting than I might have predicted. As far as TV goes, I came from a background of pre-recorded documentaries. I spent weeks and months with a director/camera/sound and gently we would make something for broadcast.

I was/am as virginal in the face of live TV as it's possible to be. For as long as I live I will never, ever forget that first countdown to my first live show ... Five... Four... Three... Two... One - dear God, it was an out of body experience. But so worthwhile.

I was 54 when this started. I had thought I had no new career things to learn. What a fool. I am so grateful for having had the chance to be a new boy at school again. I have been looked after and encouraged and persuaded I could do this. For the first time in my working life I have been part of the beginning of something. Together with my colleagues I saw it start. Starting something is the best because it means anything and everything is possible.

Whatever happens next, I was there with the rest. I am eternally grateful. Long live GBN.


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