The #Biscuit Trend

The last few weeks have been busy but amazing! First came our big children’s event, We Forgot The Lot! at Tate Britain, followed swiftly by the launch of our Kickstarter appeal, (we still need people to donate!) and then on Thursday I took the mic as Channel 4’s continuity announcer again, introducing all their peak-time shows that evening.

The response to my biscuit-enriched links has been phenomenal, and to my delight #Biscuit was top-trending on Twitter in the UK for hours on end. I loved how my tic-enriched announcements seemed to bring a bit of confusion into people’s living rooms. Some of my favourite tweets were from people who’d started off perplexed but quickly understood and approved:

@KellySarahW Omg did that just really happen, the Channel 4 programme link presenter has Tourettes??! #biscuit #cat #fairplay

@ChrisEatherton I thought I was hearing things at first! Great idea @Channel4. Making a cuppa now as for some reason I fancy a #biscuit

It was clear from lots of tweets that the importance of having diverse voices on TV was well understood:

@JMaccaG Fantastic to hear @touretteshero taking over the C4 announcer booth again. Wish more broadcasters would employ diverse voices.

@adrianpgibson Loving the Tourette’s syndrome announcer on @Channel4 this evening #biscuits #equaloppourtunities

A few years ago I used to search for #biscuit on Twitter after difficult journeys on public transport because I knew I’d find out what other travellers were saying about me. This wasn’t a particularly healthy thing to do but it made seeing #biscuit trending the other night, because of something so positive, even more incredible.

There was no big announcement about me taking over on Thursday, and I’m sure this element of surprise added to the impact. I only mentioned that I’ve got Tourettes once, and from then on I just got on with it.

I loved the whole process and did every part of the job on equal terms with the regular announcers. I scripted all my links, included any necessary warnings, and took part in the read-through to check content and timings.

I was brilliantly supported in the booth by Barra – an expert Channel 4 announcer. He was very generous with his time and expertise, and helped make a complex process easy to understand. Early on in the shift he showed me the fader on the sound desk that lets you speak over anything on the channel. I froze and had to concentrate very hard on not touching it.

Instead of going out totally live as it’s usually done, I recorded each of my links shortly before the ad breaks. I’m glad we did it this way because it meant I didn’t have to worry about saying anything I really didn’t want to on air. I’m one of the 10% of people with Tourettes who have swearing tics, but that wasn’t my biggest worry: I’d have been much more concerned about sharing my pin number with the nation, or revealing what I’ve got King Russell for his birthday.

The other reason I was more comfortable pre-recording my announcements is that my ‘ticcing fits’ mean that several times a day I completely lose control of my body and speech. So doing it that way meant any awkward silences were avoided.

The whole team at Channel 4 were brilliant and I was given the freedom to add my voice, with all its biscuity quirks, to the announcements. Thursday was a step towards showing how alternative voices can be heard in a more positive and long-term way.

I can’t wait to be back in the booth again soon, sharing more biscuits, messages for cats, and of course telling people what’s coming up next on Channel 4.

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