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A masterclass in the unrehearsed ad lib

During the long wait for the birth of Prince George, we were treated to some fabulous examples of ‘filling’ – the age-old broadcasting technique of talking without content. Minutes, hours, days of air time were padded out with the merest hint of a fact, and the broadcasters in question should all be knighted for their services to waffle. I remember such moments from my broadcasting days and so watched the hapless reporters with a mixture of pity and admiration.

Ad libs can be a very effective tool for all speakers/presenters but the key to their success is thorough rehearsal! Don’t be fooled into thinking that professional speakers like stand-up comedians really do “just remember that funny incident”. In almost all cases their material is meticulously planned, structured, paced and fine tuned over many rehearsals. Their skill is in making it sound fresh every time.

But back to the unrehearsed TV ad lib and what I believe to be the finest example of live, in vision filling as a result of a set of unique circumstances. Here’s David Dimbleby in one of his finest hours (or so it must have felt). Apologies for the irritating canned laughter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4Zs9iOlO3o