In Aberdeen an iguana called Terry shows off his ability to operate an iPad. A Norfolk man is riding a bicycle made out of driftwood and contestants in Lancashire are limbering up for the World Gravy Wrestling Championships.
Yes, folks; welcome to the glorious world of the Last Item On The Local News. These are the ‘and finally’ stories you get just before the weather. It’s that golden time when regional news reporters are allowed to loosen their collars and lark around for three minutes. It’s a land of BMXing pensioners, piano-playing pets, obsessive collectors and the very best nutcases the region has to offer.
To present these items, most regional news team will have a specialist. This is the reporter who’s given license to wear a patterned jumper. They are often honoured with a matey nickname, such as Granada TV’s Paul ‘Croney’ Crone. In return, they scour the area on our behalf looking for the odd and quirky and inspirational.
It’s a land of BMXing pensioners, piano-playing pets, obsessive collectors and the very best nutcases the region has to offer.
They are fearless. They will do whatever it takes to ensure a bit of light entertainment - whether it’s dressing up as Batman, attempting to ride a penny farthing or being gunged by evil toddlers. They are pioneers of the kind of daft items which the Internet is now built on. They were finding cats playings organs before You Tube was a twinkle in the eye of Eric Schmidt.
In the 1970s, the best of these regional news items were combined together to create a network show called Nationwide. This is where we have the classic clips of the beer drinking slug and the odd middle-aged man in shorts trying to stand on an egg. But it was thought to be too frivolous and not ‘newsy’ enough and eventually axed.
So now we have 24-hour-rolling news channels with serious analysis and on-the-spot reporting. We still have The One Show carrying the torch for daft and quirky stories, but for quality and surreal madness, you still can’t beat the last item on the local news.
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