For the last couple of weeks I’ve been lucky enough to work with film-making legend Michael Cockerell on a profile of Ed Miliband as part of Newsnight’s election coverage. This gig is a political junkie’s dream; it’s given me the opportunity to spend lots of time reading about the Labour leader (including Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre’s excellent biography) and also watching hours of footage to find the moments that tell the story.
Three weeks ago we were excited to discover that an ITV crew had filmed “Ted” Miliband as he was then known as an Oxford student. We were even more excited when an ITV archivist managed to dig out the footage. The catch was that, once we asked to use it, ITV aired the footage first. So the pictures you'll see of Ed Miliband during his student days are not quite unseen. But we managed to dig up lots of other great pictures, including some early images of Ed when he worked in the Treasury with Gordon Brown.
Access can be an issue when making profiles of big-name politicians. In this case Michael was able to arrange a very rare interview with Marc Stears, Ed Miliband’s old college friend who’s now his chief speechwriter. Oona King talks us through their schooldays together, while Phil Collins and Damian McBride look at Ed Miliband’s role in the Blair/Brown years, his tricky relationship with his big brother David. Alan Duncan makes a critical appraisal from the Opposition benches.
Twelve minutes is a relatively long slot to be given for any film on Newsnight, but it’s actually quite difficult to tell the story of Ed Miliband’s political life in this time – you can’t fit everything in, so you have to listen to what the interviewees and the pictures tell you, and fit the story around them. Tonight’s show will also profile David Cameron in a film made by Matthew D’Ancona with my colleague Vara Szajkowski. By the end of this month one of the two will be in Downing Street – hopefully the Newsnight profiles will show you a different side to both men.
Here's a taster of our Ed Miliband film.