Life

Lockdown diary: Good Morning Ulster co-presenter Chris Buckler

We ask people how they are coping in the coronavirus crisis. This week, Good Morning Ulster co-presenter Chris Buckler (45), a former Washington correspondent for the BBC

Good Morning Ulster co-presenter Chris Buckler is a former Washington correspondent for the BBC
Jane Hardy

How has lockdown affected you professionally?

IT'S REALLY difficult for the newsroom now. With the Zoom culture, you miss those tidbits of information you got from people when the BBC was packed to the gills. All journalists are essentially gossips and now it's a bit empty.

I came back from Washington in March straight into lockdown, having reported on the virus in Seattle. My plane was cancelled, but I got another one, and had a meeting at 10am to discuss pilots for the show. I went straight back to work that afternoon which was brilliant.

Returning was a tough decision, though, and I miss the intensity of it. I'd been offered an extended contract in America to March 2020 but my biggest concern was missing the election, having covered most of Trump's presidency – including making sense of the Mueller report on air. It's a great big soap opera. You look at CNN and Fox coverage with an amount of opinion, and part of me takes pride in doing things differently.

You miss home of course. I have a little nephew, friends and family here. It was a great opportunity to take on a programme like Good Morning Ulster. Sarah Brett and I haven't presented one show in the same studio – she's shielding with her parents in Donegal – so we're getting to know one another on air.

How has the lockdown affected you personally?

The coronavirus narrative is dark. It's very much about health with the core of the story being people getting ill and dying. Reporters are lucky in that we get to go home, have a shower, and aren't directly affected. Yet without empathy, you wouldn't do the story properly.

Colleagues would say I have a low boredom threshold but in truth, I can be happy going for a walk by the sea near my home in Bangor or making a cup of tea. Lockdown kills the need to get out and talk. We all use video calls but it was great to get out the other day and interview people about parades.

How do you feel about the easing of lockdown?

We've been very lucky, but it isn't luck. As an island community, air routes were shut down and we don't have people living on top of each other. Also, we're obedient. I find myself scowling at people who don't go the right way down supermarket aisles.

Last night I went to the Jharna restaurant on the Lisburn Road with a group of friends, including Stephen Nolan. We used to meet up once a week and it was really nice to sit down again. I felt sorry for the great Jharna team in their visors. I had palok paneer, spinach and cheese, as I'm totally veggie. We spent an hour and a half or so catching up – no more, as my alarm goes off at 4.25am

What's kept you going?

Watching a lot of TV. I really like Condor, although I came late to it. Also Cardinal on iPlayer, a standard tale with a dark twist. The other night I was entertained by an old thing, Nighty Night with Juliet Davies and Angus Deayton.

Ironically, I enjoy The Morning Show, but we're much nicer behind the scenes. We actually like each other.

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