With James Luxford from BBC Oxford

Normally for a freelance journalist like myself, a quiet week signals panic and desperate pitching emails. However, this week it’s entirely intentional, as I am recovering from the hectic schedule of the recent London Film Festival. Even as a film fanatic, 12 hours days with roughly three screenings a day (including weekends) for the last two weeks has left me a bit drained.

I don’t normally cover as much, but this festival has afforded me a number of ‘firsts’.

The first ‘first’, if you will, is meeting a lot of actors who don’t normally come out to promote movies. The biggest being Tom Hanks, bringing two films to open and close the festival.

Mr Hanks doesn’t do press usually beyond the odd premiere, because, well, he’s Tom Hanks and doesn’t need to do anything he doesn’t want to. So it was a particular treat to see him, and it reminded me exactly how much he had a part in the movies I liked growing up – movies like Big and Splash when I was little, his Oscar winning 90’s turns as I got older. Chances are you have a similar relationship with the actor. Despite a slightly prickly opening press conference (there were a couple of cheeky questions regarding his recent admission of developing Type 2 Diabetes) it all went very well and he was every bit the star you hoped him to be. Also, outside of the festival was a rare chance to meet the great Robert De Niro, in town to promote his new action comedy The Family.

I’m forbidden by the studio from going into particulars, however I’m fairly certain I remember nothing of what he said, because I was sitting there thinking “that’s Jake LaMotta, that’s Travis Bickle, that’s Vito Corleone, that’s…” well, you get the picture. It’s one of those times where, despite the answers you get, regardless of the mood of the actor involved, you walk out with a smile on your face, because this is exactly why we do what we do.

After all this, my second ‘first’ was presenting my own radio show for a London station covering the festival. We recorded at the famous Riverside Studios, home to a lot of classic British cinema and, more recently, popular TV shows such as Never Mind The Buzzcocks, which must have been filming at the time. One of the show’s more colourful regulars, comedian Noel Fielding, wandered past while I was chatting to my producer in the foyer of the studios, and neither of us batted an eyelid. I joked that we were just being cool media professionals, but part of me suspects that after a fortnight like I’ve had, that encounter didn’t hold quite the same allure (sorry Noel, and my sister-in-law Jen, who’s a big fan and can’t believe I didn’t talk to him). So, have I become the type of jaded hack I always despised? Possibly, but if anyone asks I’ll just blame it on festival-induced sleep deprivation.