A lovely thing that sometimes happens to Radio 4 newsreaders is that we're asked to read things out loud for other programmes. It might be a letter of complaint for You and Yours, a poem for Radio 2, a made-up news bulletin for Newsnight or the credits for a Radio 4 drama. Best of all is when we are let out of the studio and allowed to appear in public, a prime example being The News Quiz, where we read our naughty clippings on stage with the panelists in front of a live audience - a little daunting but a lot of fun.
I spent a fascinating few hours the other day recording on location for The Long View with Jonathan Freedland. He and his guests, including the historian Jacqui Turner and the American history professor Gary Gerstle , drew parallels between the first female MP to take her seat in the British Parliament, Nancy Astor and the American Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, not only as groundbreaking political women, but also as the wives of successful politicians.
Among the interesting comparisons was their treatment by the press, who were as obsessed with the attire of Lady Astor (what sort of hat would she wear in the Commons? Would she take it off, as men did, when wishing to address the House?) as they are with Hillary's trouser suits and unpredictable hair.
We recorded first at Lady Astor's London residence in St James' Square, which somewhat ironically became a gentlemen's club for ex-military personnel (it does now admit women members). We then moved to CNN's London HQ, where we were joined by Christiane Amanpour who talked about the global rise of female politicians, and thence to the House of Commons to record the final section beside the plaque commemorating Lady Astor's service to Parliament.
It was a great discussion and you can hear The Long View on Monday 25th July on Radio 4 at 9am and thenon the Radio 4 website.