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BBC's Sarah Brett and Chris Buckler praised for first Good Morning Ulster show despite lockdown obstacles


Sarah Brett and Chris Buckler

Sarah Brett and Chris Buckler

Sarah Brett and Chris Buckler

Sarah Brett and Chris Buckler had a rather unusual first day in their new jobs as presenters of BBC Radio Ulster’s flagship breakfast news programme Good Morning Ulster.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, there were over a hundred miles between the pair on Monday as they hosted their first show together.

As they took to the airwaves, Buckler, who was broadcasting solo from the BBC studio in Belfast, pointed out that "things had changed a little" as faithful listeners were greeted by their new hosts for the first time.

He said: "There are different people sitting in the chair but we hope to make sure that we become your new friends."

Meanwhile, Brett was on air from her home in Donegal.

"Testing both the limits of the broadband in this area and my technical ability so if it all goes horribly wrong, well, you can blame me,” she joked.

Buckler acknowledged that they had big shoes to fill as they follow in the footsteps of broadcasters Noel Thompson and Karen Patterson, as well as Seamus McKee, Conor Bradford and Wendy Austin who presented the show before them.

“Obviously this is a great programme and we had planned lots of different changes but things haven’t quite worked out. It’s a very different time but it’s a very important time to be on the radio,” said Buckler.

“We are here for you, day in and day out. We’re not going anywhere," Brett promised.

"It’s the strangest first day I think I’ve ever had but I think I can speak for both of us today, we’re both very proud to be here and thank you very much for having us.”

Buckler had been working as the BBC's Washington Correspondent, reporting on the Trump administration and stories across north America, while Brett hosted her own late night discussion programme on BBC Radio 5 live.

Born in Northampton, Brett moved to Donegal when she was four years old. She has been working for the BBC since 2004 when she joined Radio Foyle.

Brett and Buckler, who both worked as journalists at the Belfast Telegraph before joining the BBC, were praised for a successful first show, despite the exceptional circumstances.

"Great new team this morning," one listener commented. "Good blend of voices. Sarah has great poetic voice and Chris blends with this. Best wishes for the future to you both."

Another remarked on the broadcasters' chemistry, saying: "Big props to Good Morning Ulster who started with new presenters today in the middle of all of this. The banter was there, even though the presenters weren’t physically in the same room. It was a good show. Bravo!"

One listener welcomed Sarah home from Manchester "at this crazy time, when journalism of the standard you bring is more needed than ever".

It was announced in November 2019 that broadcasters Thompson and Patterson were stepping away from presenting Good Morning Ulster.

The BBC said the presenters took the opportunity to stand down following a review into its schedules and programmes and they would be taking on new challenges and "enjoy a change of pace".

It was also a new look for BBC Radio Ulster's drive time news programme Evening Extra, with Tara Mill and Declan Harvey in the studio for their first show on Monday.

Tara has been a familiar face on BBC NI for many years as a BBC Newsline presenter and reporter. Declan joined BBC NI three years ago after working as a news journalist for BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.

Declan said: "That is it for our first programme on Evening Extra. Thank you for company. Tara, I thought you did great," with Tara replying, "I thought you were even better."

Belfast Telegraph