Making the BBC Royal Wedding montage



I put the first five shots on the timeline over the music I was sure would be right and my heart sank. It wasn't just Coco Pops with gravy, there was a dollop of guacamole on top. Oh god.
The plan had been to use Elton's 'Are You Ready For Love?' for the Royal Wedding montage. On paper there's no better choice.

The tune's poppy and uplifting, it's beats are easy to cut to and it rises and falls and rises again.
It's a musical union between Britain and America - Sir Elton singing a love song written by three Americans. Plus it would have been a nice nod to Princess Diana.

But it felt like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle with a hammer. Sorry Elton. There's no time to be precious or sentimental. Off the computer and into the editing bin slid the tune.

Shit. We're two hours away from TX and we have no song, the most important ingredient to a montage (even if you have no pics, you can still use text and a good tune).

We're a wedding with no bride.

Asking colleagues on other deadlines got me the responses I deserved. Thanks but 'You're The One That I Want' from Grease probaby won't work. Billy Idol is a no. Of course I am totally in control! It's going well...

Thank God for Melanie. We'd been sent the Order of Service and Mel who's subbing (one of the BBC's best...) had gone actually read it. There in small print right at the end was an Etta James song.
'At Last'?! Surely not...

The song arrives via email from the vast archive and onto the edit it goes.

We're not just back on track but the montage is editing itself. When you have a great story to tell or an amazing photo to take (or a montage to edit with the perfect tune) you become, not a creator but a more facilitator to magic.

I mean, Harry and Meghan's footsteps while leaving St George's Chapel are in sync with the beat. The song, Etta James's 'Amen / This Little Light Of Mine' has created alchemy.

An hour ago we had a pile of clips, no song and no clue. Now we're finished before the TX deadline. I show it to the programme editor. He orders no changes. Hallelujah!

The moment of transmission and colleagues are watching. I am watching them watching it. Fuck.

Will it glitch? Is there a jump cut I missed? Is there a dropped frame? A flash frame? What if I didn't realise I'd gone mad and edited in a photo of Peppa Pig as a joke and forgot to edit it out?!

When stress transforms into warped paranoia, that's the sweet spot. I love it. When you're standing on the edge of a skyscraper with no harness you might as well dance.

It's over in a flash and as the final slate appears there's applause in the newsroom. Relief. Joy. Pride. Even the bloke who suggested Billy Idol is clapping. Same to you mate.

I give Mel a huge hug of relief and thanks for her help and we search for an open bottle of fizz. These are the moments this job is for.

Since there isn't going to be a major Royal Wedding montage needed for another 20-odd years, I'm wondering if I need to buy a really fast Italian motorbike to ride down the M4, without a helmet on, at night in the wet?