Cameraman based in Edinburgh, employed by ITN, working for ITV's Good Morning Britain covering stories all over the UK and the world. War Zones, World Cups, Royal Tours and many other less exciting assignments, like interviewing current and ex Prime Ministers have kept me busy over the years working in Breakfast Television since GMTV came on the scene back in '93 and regional TV before that. In 2009 I began to record what it is like to work, the often strange and long hours needed to bring the hard news, human interest and fluffy fun to the UK's TV screens in the morning, mostly broadcasting live.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Colleen Rooney's 15 cases, "Frequency Police" and the Suarez bite that forced extra time

Monday 16th June
Rio de Janeiro

It was in the afternoon after we managed a little bit of a sleep when Sean spotted Colleen Rooney’s tweet.

She and the kids were in a car on their way to the airport to fly to Rio.

Now that Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham and Co were no longer around and the England manager was not keen on encouraging the WAGs, allied with Wayne’s poor performance in the game against Italy, their journey to Brazil was interesting.

The last time that I had seen Colleen was on the eve of her wedding. I was the only member of the media to get a shot of the pair the day before they tied the knot when, along with GMTV reporter Michelle Morrison we got them to pose for a picture.

It did not take a degree in maths and travel to work out which flight they would be on.

So, with a handful of photographers Sean, Rav and I waited at Rio’s International Arrivals.

We rather hoped that being the only TV crew around, something we found a little bit surprising, she would be happy to talk to Sean, as she has been breakfast TV friendly in the past.

The sign that she and the boys were coming through the doors was a convoy of trolleys laden with suitcases being pushed by airport porters.

First to appear was Kai. It was not exactly a low-key entrance. He was wearing a Manchester United top emblazoned with his name and his dad’s number pertched on the shoulders of a man we thought was Colleen’s dad.

Colleen was the last to appear pushing a baby buggy.

The snappers’ flashes started firing, Sean went off to see if she would talk to us and I dashed off with him to get the shot.

It was a bit of a bun-fight, as these things often are. The snappers tried to get some shots, Sean tried to talk to her and I tried to get as clean and steady a shot as possible.

She did not want to talk, ignoring Sean’s questions with a hard stony stare. She did not seem at all happy with the attention that she was receiving.

It did seem a little bit strange given that it was her that told us when she was arriving by sending out the tweet on the way to the airport.

If she had not sent out that tweet then no one in the media would have been alerted to her arrival. She and her entourage would have whisked through the airport without any hassle at all.

Instead she had to contend with a posse of photographers, one TV cameraman and a few reporters including Sean, as she and the family tried to get to their cars.

There was not a lot of room for manoeuvre as the mad moving scrum headed through the airport to the lifts down to the car park.

It was so much of a scrum that one of the photographers fell and Sean said that he heard the sickening thump as the guy’s head hit the solid floor.

I was totally unaware of that as I was concentrating on getting the shot and avoiding being mown down by one of the guys pushing one of the laden trolleys.

He did make a pretty good attempt at breaking my leg as he forced me into the wall at the entrance to the lift.

Rav had also tried to get a few bits of footage on his little camera, getting a hand in the face from someone for his trouble.

Rav's material of the mayhem in arrivals

After our outing to the airport we did not have enough time to get back to the hotel for a bit of sleep before our live broadcasts. Also we needed to get Colleen and her family's arrival shots back to Good Morning Britain in London.

So, we went straight to our live location at the ITN apartment in Laranjeiras where I fed the material back and we tried to get a bit of sleep on the sofas in the apartment.

On the way we stopped off to grab some food and drink from a supermarket that was still open late into the night.
Getting the late night supplies
The apartment kitchen filled with kit boxes

Tuesday 17th June
Rio de Janeiro

After a bit of an all to short snooze we were back on air into the morning's Good Morning Britain.

Thankfully all the broadcasts went off with no problems.

At around 6 am local time we got back to the hotel to get a good solid three hours sleep before going out to get some shots around Ipanema.

Then it was time to hit the beach, not to enjoy a bit of sunbathing but to record a few pieces to camera for a promotion spot to be played on ITV.
Ready to record the piece to camera...
..on Ipanema Beach with Rav wielding the reflector
The Good Morning Britain Brazil team's mascot, Bonzo..
..and Rav getting down to get another shot
Later we needed to get a few bits of commuter kit because our memory for editing was getting critically full.

We thought that all we had to do was to head out on a ten minute walk to a big shopping mall called Shopping Leblon and get the needed hard drives and other bits and pieces we needed.

Our team walk there was slightly slower than normal because we had our own injury to deal with. Sean was sporting a fetching elasticated bandage around his knee.

Unfortunately he had not sustained his injury in a spectacular way. He had simply twisted it getting out of bed.
Sad Sean and his injured knee
On the way we did notice that most of the shops on the way were closed and the place felt rather quiet.

Then it dawned on us. The Brazil v Mexico game was about to start. There were groups of people gathered round anywhere there was a TV, regardless of size or location.

We carried on to the mall never thinking that such a large busy mall would be closed.

It was and the city was turning into somewhat of a ghost town. The traffic was eerily calm and the streets were emptying fast, as if a curfew had been decreed.
Tiny TV at a news stand
Crowd round the bar/restaurant of our hotel
There was not much sleep in the evening because we had to pack to be ready for our flight to Saõ Paulo after doing more live broadcasts from the ITN apartment.

Wednesday 18th June
Rio de Janeiro

Getting set up for the live broadcasts

When sleep has been in short supply it usually means that patience is also not as plentiful either.

This was certainly true when we once again tried to negotiate the nightmare that was TAM check in for the short flight to the largest city in Brazil.

There was a huge, slow moving queue for the check in and bag drop. So, with TAM being a member of the One World Alliance like British Airways, me having a Silver Card and with us having many bags, (we had a few extra on the flight to Saõ Paulo filled with body armour, helmets, respirators and other protective equipment just in case we had to get involved in filming any of the trouble that might pop up again. In the last few days there had been reports of live rounds being fired.),  I asked for directions to the Priority Line.

The lady, a bit flustered at dealing with the mass of passengers in the queue appeared a bit confused at the question. She called to one of her equally flustered looking colleagues.

After a brief chat they pointed to the other side of the check in area that was deserted and told us to go to desk 16.

As we went round we could see that the desk was unmanned, but we carried on assuming that it would be manned soon.

As we got to the start of where the queue would snake around the flexible barriers to the desk we were stopped by a short chap in a TAM tank top. He indicated in brusque Portuguese that we needed to go back to where the long queue was.

It took us a bit of time in slow English and a lot of gesticulation, pointing to our piled trolleys and frequent flyer card, to make him kind of understand that we had been told to head over here.

He motioned for us to wait and got quite excited when we tried to continue towards the actual desk.

After a brief conversation with another guy, obviously some kind of supervisor in an ill-fitting TAM suit he came back to us to allow us to go to the desk.

The desk was the last one in the long line of empty desks. We went to go round the outside of the barrier tape directly to the still unmanned desk. Our little man just about had an apoplectic fit.

He all but pushed us into the lane that snaked round to the desk. Not quite believing that he was making us take our trolleys along the lane with its many hair pin bends we did as we were told.

His job then became one of replacing the posts and barriers that we knocked as we manoeuvred the stacked trolleys around the tight bends.

When we got to the desk after our precision trolley pushing exercise it was still unmanned.

The little man then scurried away his jobs worth job done for the day.

We waited for someone to come and check our bags in. We waited for about five minutes.

Our collective annoyance was bubbling up. We could see quite a few apparently spare bodies in TAM uniforms wandering around not really doing anything.

I went back over to the woman who had sent us to this desk.

She told me that someone would be there right away.

I went back to the desk. We waited again.

This time when I went back over I made it quite clear that I was not happy with the state of affairs.

The guys that would have been behind us in the long queue were now almost at the check in desks as that queue kept slowly snaking along.

We had to wait for another few minutes whilst a few of the check in staff had a chat with the guy in the ill-fitting suit.

At last a thin attractive girl sauntered over to the desk and without initially acknowledging our presence started to tap away on a keyboard.

After she had finished what appeared to be writing a short novel she lifted her head an put her hand out presumably for us to provide her with our passports, which we gave her.

When we told her that we had nine bags between us she visibly flinched.

Once the bags had been weighed and tagged, a process that took long enough for us to have watched a box set of 24, she mentioned the "E" work, excess.

Then there proceeded a lot of writing and discussion before she tried to explain what we needed to pay.

"You pay for 159Kg excess."

I said, "Why so much?"

"It is excess" came the short reply.

I tried to make her explain how that had been calculated and what our actual allowance was before the excess baggage was calculated. This took quite a while.

I was trying to keep a lid on the pressure of infuriation that I was feeling but, it was getting increasingly difficult.

She put her head down and did a bit more scribbling on the scrap of paper.

"I give you now 139Kg excess."

It was clear that there was no more give to be gained from her so we wearily accepted and Rav went over to wait in another long queue at the ticket desk to pay the excess baggage fee.

We were not allowed to put the bags on the belt or take them to the outsize area that she had pointed out until Rav came back.

When Rav was waiting to pay I had another go at asking what the baggage allowance was.

It appeared that we were each allowed 13Kg.

Now Sean and I were totally baffled. How could the initial amount of 159 suddenly come down to 139 if our collective allowance was 39?

Even though we had arrived at the airport in plenty of time for the flight a lot of that time had ebbed away. Sean and I thought better of re-opening negotiations.

Once Rav came back having paid our tribulations were not over.

Our personal bags went on the normal belt with no problem. The kit flight cases was another matter.

We took them over to the desk and x-ray machine that we pointed in the direction of.

The lady at the desk looked at us as if we had two heads with strange forked tails and speaking gibberish, which to be fair we probably were having no grasp of Brazilian Portuguese.

We pointed at the trolley load of flight cases and the machine and the TAM check in desk trying to make her understand that we had been sent over.

She simply ignored us.

Then another guy appeared and sat beside her similarly ignoring us, particularly when Rav and I started saying things like manager, supervisor, supervisorio and other variations on that theme.

Now barley able to contain the impending eruption of anger we managed to get another member of the TAM staff to come over to the desk. There then ensued a heated exchange in Portuguese.

At last we were able to put the boxes through the x-ray and hoped that they would make the flight as they were piled up in a corner next to the machine.

It took the length of the flight for us to get our temperatures and blood pressure back to normal.

Gi, our Rio fixed was having his share of stress on his journey to Saõ Paulo.

He had gone on the flight just before us to get there to collect the hire car and be ready for our arrival.

The car that he had been presented with was a inch or two bigger than a Fiat 500. The four of us would just about have been able to squeeze into it with no baggage and certainly not wearing heavy coats.

He did manage to get a larger car but not without a lot of haggling.
We only just got the kit into the estate car
We had been warned that the traffic in the city made the Rio roads appear like city centres in the UK on a bank holiday.

We were not disappointed. The traffic is so slow on the motorways in and around Saõ Paulo that street sellers can walk between the cars touting there goods and improvised souvenir stalls are all over the place.
Busy Saõ Paulo..
..jams all the way in to the city
At least there are places to pick up a gift..
..maybe not the highest quality..
..not sure who'd want them either
 The traffic being busy was a bit of a problem because we had a couple of things that we wanted to film.

As time ticked away we had to ditch one in favour of the other. So, Gi took us in the direction of one of the less affluent areas of the city where we had to quickly film some of the local kids playing a bit of football with some England fans and being given some football shirts that had been collected by Mark Heelis.

He had managed to get over 500 football shirts that he could distribute to the poorer kids in the most deprived areas of Saõ Paulo.

On our way up the steep road to the covered concrete five-a-side pitch we were warned that there might be a bit of animosity towards us as the locals were not keen on the media, mainly the local Brazilian media who allegedly do nothing but bad stories about the area.

I was also advised not to film the older boys watching the kick about as they were high and somewhat unpredictable.

In the end the shoot went off very well. We were greeted very warmly and like kids everywhere they loved being filmed.

The noisy samba band in the room next door to the one where the kids were being given the gift wrapped football tops were even happy to stop in order for us to do a few interviews and pieces to camera.

Filming the interview with Mark as we walk down the street
The kids posing for a quick pic..

..before getting the shirts..
..that they were clearly pleased to get..
..putting them on straight away
The samba band
Next stop was a very quick snatched meal at a service station before the next bit of shooting

It's not every day that we eat lunch..
..out of a dog bowl
At the Saõ Paulo's Arena Corinthaians we did a bit of filming with some excitable and confidant Uruguay supporters.
One eccentric fan with a replica 1930's ball and other memorabilia  
Confident Uruguay fans
Sean taking a few notes on his phone
When we went through the airport stye security at the media entrance to the stadium I was immediately confronted by two members of the Federal something or other wearing official police style badges.

I was forcefully but, politely escorted by one of them to an office in the broadcast compound where another two of these "frequency police" had a quick look at my hand held radio mic even though I had told them that we were only going to be in the stadium for a little while and would not be using that microphone at all.

It ended up with a "uso naõ permitido" sticker.

The was then a very heavy rain shower. So we stayed in there after the sticker had been applied to wait for the rain to ease. During that time a succession of TV and radio people were brought in with various radio equipment that went out with the same sort of sticker that mine had.
Frequency police at work..
..the resulting "do not use" sticker
When that was done we then had to negotiate the loan of a couple of brown bibs so that Sean and I could go into the stadium during the Uruguay training to do a quick piece to camera and get some shots of the training and Luis Suarez in particular.

Sean had to had over his passport as a deposit to make sure that we retuned the precious bibs.
Uruguay training
Inside the Arena Corinthians media centre 
I wanted to get the material that I had just shot sent to London as soon as possible so that we could get to our hotel for as much sleep as possible before coming back to a house near the stadium for our live broadcasts.

However, the "Frequency Police" were busy going through Colin's satellite equipment in great detail. At least after the scanning, searching and questioning the equipment was given an approved sticker unlike the one on my radio mic.

So, it took a while before I was able to get the material back to Good Morning Britain and ITN, they wanted the shots of Suarez in training. He was potentially going to be the main danger against England.
The "Frequency Police"going through the satellite equipment
At last we got to the hotel at about 6:30 pm  where we checked in and got room service meals before crashing out for a short sleep.

Before midnight we were back on the road heading to the live position in a small house not far from the stadium. We were a little bit later than we wanted to be because the taxi that we had pre booked had not turned up so we had to wait for another one.
Even at night the traffic is busy. View out my hotel room window
Also a bit to time lapse from the window

Thursday 19th June
Saõ Paulo

Rather like Rio the roads were very different at night.

When we arrived at the little house opposite the stadium our arrival was announced by the neighbour's two, snarling, baying hounds.

Surprisingly the loud row did not stir the lady that lived in the house that we were trying to get into. It took quite a few knocks on the gate before she came to let us in. Clearly she spoke no English but welcomed us in with a huge smile.

We made our way up the narrow tiled stairs to the bedroom with the small balcony that would become our live point. She followed us, indicated, using the international sign for sleep by putting her hands together as if to pray beside her cheek, that she was going off to bed and motioned that there was coffee available downstairs in the small living area. She then disappeared into another part of he small house.

We had gone there in a taxi because this morning's broadcasts would not just be with Sean. Football analyst and presenter Chris Kamara was going to be joining us.

Gi had gone to collect him from his hotel.

The position was not the best. It was quite difficult to get a clean shot of the stadium because there was a lamp post and lots of power and telephone cables strung across the shot just behind where Sean and Chris were going to stand.

The little house behind the wall..
..on the corner of this street
When I started to get things set up I was dismayed to find that I could not find one of my little lighting stands. It had not been brought in from the taxi. It had disappeared into the Saõ Paulo night and we never saw it again.
Our little tight corner on the small balcony
Rav getting the scripts from London
Sean doing his live thing with the Arena Corinthians in the background
Rav, Sean, Chris and Gi watching the Three Lions vt before Chris' live down the line interview 
In an effort to bolster support in England the crews and presenters at Good Morning Britain had done a version of the Three Lions England football song.

We had contributed to it with Sean miming to some of the lyrics. I had shot some of it on my little drone camera.

I was very pleased to see that I had the video's opening shot and quite a few throughout the video.

The GMB Three Lions Video
Getting that opening shot..
..with my drone
The morning's broadcasts although very cold went off smoothly.

We got back to the hotel at around 6 am to get another few hours sleep.

When I got up again I went out my room to get the lift down stairs to get some food.

Gabby Logan was already wasting for the lift. She said that she hoped that I was not in a hurry. She had been already waiting for at least ten minutes for the lift.

It had passed our floor, the 12th on its was up and down without stopping several times before I arrived and no less than four times after I got there.

When it eventually stopped and we got in a guy said, "I thought this was the 8th this time".

He had been join up and down trying to get off at the 8th floor for fifteen minutes.

It was not possible to get off at another floor and use the stairs because there was no access to the upper floors from the stair well. The stairs were purely there to be used as a fire exit.

Earlier Gabby had complained to the staff on the reception desk that the lift was broken. She was told quite politely that there was nothing wrong and the lift was working perfectly.

Strange then that there was a man wearing the uniform of the lift company, a laden tool belt and carrying a tool box coming in and out of the lifts.

The traffic was as busy as ever on the way to the stadium. Gi could not get us very close. We had to get out the car a mile or so away and do the rest of the journey with the kit by train and on foot.

On the way to the station..
..Gi also putting his best foot forward
Getting to the station,..
..on to the train.. join the crowd..
..on the way to the stadium
The only thing that we needed to do or in fact would be allowed to do because we did not have the relevant tickets or bibs for that game was to get the reaction of the fans once the game was over.

Rav settled down in the media centre to edit the footage that I had shot of Mark and the kids with the football strips.

Sean and I went out to the press tribune area to watch some of the game. We needed to leave before the end to get ready to get the interviews with the fans as they left the stadium.

Rav edits with the game on in the background.
The view Sean and I had of the game

Uruguay come close.. the bar for England..
..but it's Suarez that is overjoyed at doing the damage.. are his teammates..

..before finally breaking his World Cup duck Rooney forces a save..
..Welbeck, perhaps lucky to get away with this challenge..
..great reaction save at the other end
With about ten minutes or so to go Sean and I headed out of the main arena ready for the exodus of the few England fans that were in the stadium.

We saw the goal from Suarez that all but sank England's chances of progressing to the next round on one of the big screens that we could see from outside.

On the whole the interviews might have been a bit downbeat but polite but there were the few idiots that peppered their opinions with F and C words and liberally sprinkled with ones that began with B. They found it surprising when Sean said that they would not make air.

Also a handful of the usual sort of suspects told us what they thought of us and telling me where I could put my camera.

When the interviews were finished I went out to send the material from the ITN satellite dish. There was a bit of a wait until the ITN news came off the air and the post match press conferences had been sent back.

Back in the media centre post match interviews,..
..match reports and.. calls are made
An omen? Not often London is not on a world time display
When the interviews and a pice to camera that I had done with Sean were safely in the Good Morning Britain system we made for the hotel to get our heads down for two hours.

Friday 20th June
Saõ Paulo

The witching hour of midnight coincided with Gi taking us back to the little house on he corner.

Once more as soon as we were up in the small bedroom the lady of the house went off to bed.
Dinner/midnight snack/early breakfast in the little house 

Sean and Rav go through the scripts..
..and then out to the balcony to get on air
When we came off air it would not be wrong to say that the three of us were a little bit hysterical from lack of sleep. We found everything and anything uproariously funny.

At least today we had the chance to get a little bit more sleep. Bedtime was about 6 am as was now the pattern. We did not need to emerge until around midday so that we could get some lunch prior to heading to the airport for the return to Rio de Janeiro.

Following the theme of disorganisation and chaos we had our share here too.

Thanks to the Saõ Paulo traffic we got to the check in just in time to dump our bags. This time there was no hassle with the excess.

We were given our boarding cards with Gate 15 marked on it and told to go straight there by the check in lady as the flight was ready to board.

As we rushed through the departure lounge we felt compelled to make a quick stop to snatch some photographs of this character.
He enjoyed being photographed..
..but, can't be natural though?!
Once the pic's were taken we joined the queue of passengers and Gate 15 and continued to talk about the slightly freaky body builder, or plastic surgery victim.

As the other passengers went through the door to the aircraft walkway we noticed that the TV screen above them had a flight number different to ours and the destination said Recife.

We asked the guy who was ripping the boarding cards if we were in the correct place. 

He said that we were and our flight would leave from here later.

We thought that was strange because both our flight to Saõ Paulo and the flight to Recife that we almost boarded were due to be leaving at the same time, which was now!

We asked again about our flight, this time we were directed to Gate 17 by one guy and Gate 21 by another woman.

We could see Gate 17 a few meters away so we dashed over to another queue that was quickly getting shorter as the people filled the aircraft at that gate.

This flight was not going to Saõ Paulo either. Once more yet another guy told us that our flight would leave from the gate soon.

The girl that had told us Gate 21 shouted over that we should go to Gate 21.

Then a brief but heated argument endued as the girl and the guy screamed at each other, "Gate 17!"

"No! Gate 21!"

As this diplomatic incident was carrying on I went over to one of the screens to see that it was indeed showing Gate 21. It was also flashing red with the words "Last Call".

I called to Rav and Sean. We ran off in the direction of Gate 21 with the echoes of the argument fading behind us.

We got to the aircraft as the crew's thoughts were heading towards informing the ground staff that they should be looking for our bags to take them out of the baggage hold.

All the other passengers on the flight, including Gi who had disposed of the hire car and taken his seat in the coveted A1 position, were sitting comfortably waiting for the door to close when we made our way to the back of the plane to take our seats.

The good news was that when we got back to our Rio hotel home at around 9 pm we had the prospect of getting a full night's sleep because there is no Good Morning Britain on Saturday.

The other news was that we now knew when we would be going home. England's very slim hope of staying in the competition had gone courtesy of Costa Rica beating Italy.

The three of us were not to unhappy about the prospect of not spending longer in Brazil, not that there was any problem with Brazil. It was quite the reverse. After all the security and safety hype we had found the place to be friendly, welcoming with a great atmosphere.

It was that we were pretty much on our knees with the hours that we had been working and the lack of sleep. I was cultivating a bit of a cold, Sean was just dead beat and Rav had resorted to Red Bull.

It was great that for the first night in a while we had the prospect of a full night's sleep in front of us.

Saturday 21st June

Rio de Janeiro

Rather weirdly none of the three of us had a good night's sleep. It would appear that our bodies had become annoyingly acclimatised to sleep coming in short slightly irregular bursts.

When the trip had been planned today had been scheduled as a rest day.

A few days ago that had been ripped up. A very deserving dad had been nominated by his sons to appear on the Father's Day edition of Good Morning Britain.

Matt had been put forward by his boys because of the way he had coped and looked after them when their mum had died tragically in hospital after undergoing a fairly routine operation.

The prize that GMB had given him when he was surprised on air by correspondent Jonathan Swain was a trip for two to Brazil.

He had come out with Debbie, a close friend who had helped him through the traumatic time of his wife's death and the aftermath.

It would not be to far from the truth to say we were not too enamoured with loosing the down time to recharge our batteries a little.

However, when we met Matt and Debbie and did our bit of filming with them their warmth, Matt's obvious still slightly raw grief, the love for his lads and their clear delight at being in Brazil made any thoughts that the job was a chore melt away.
Matt tells us his story in the lobby of their hotel 
Filming them on the Ipanema Beach
Sean with the inspiring Matt and partner Debbie
In the afternoon we said goodbye to the pair as they went off to do some sightseeing. We had an early dinner because although there was no need to be up during the night again we did need to get up early to catch the red eye flight to Belo Horizonte in the morning.

Sunday 22nd June
Belo Horizonte

We were not looking forward to another check in experience with TAM. Our fears were not unfounded, although this time the process was not nearly as bad as the previous one it was not smooth and easy.

We had checked in on line and checked the box that said we would collect our boarding cards at the airport. However, when we went to go into the normal queue to drop off the bags and sort out the excess the staff manning the entrance to the queue would not let us in without a physical boarding card.

Sean and I almost had to restrain Rottweiler Rav. His temper fuze was nearing full ignition when things started to get sensible and sorted out.

The good news was that this time the excess baggage was more intelligently done, costing us virtually nothing. This was also due to the fact that we were not taking the heavy body armour, helmets and other protective gear.
On the phones at the Belo Horizonte baggage belt
When we arrived at the hotel in Belo Horizonte it was absolutely heaving with people trying to check in.

Before the whole trip there had been many briefings and protocols about safety and security in Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro around the Copacabana. The whole time that we had been there we had not experienced any problems.

However, being out at night into the early hours was far from recommended.

We needed to do live broadcasts into Monday's GMB programme using the little BGAN satellite dish because the ITN big dish was not going to be in place at the stadium until tomorrow in time for our Tuesday prematch live broadcasts.

There was no nice roof terrace at our hotel that we could use like we did in Manaus.

The choice was to go hunting for a one hundred percent safe location in a city with a population of more that five million that we had never been in before and knew little.

Thankfully the BGAN was able to lock on to the satellite from my bedroom. So, we could do the live broadcasts from there. 

It would take a bit of careful lighting but, we might just be able to get away with it.

Monday 23rd June
Belo Horizonte

At 1 am Sean and Rav joined me in my room to prepare for the broadcasts.
Rav putting up covers from our beds to reduce the reflections in the window
Sean going through scrips sent from London
Sean and Rav discuss changes to the scripts..
..then make final adjustments..
..just before we go on air
We did have one little problem that meant we missed one of the first broadcasts.

The problem stemmed from the delay on the talkback on the BGAN system. When I established satellite link I called Doug, the Technical Director. 

When I heard his familiar Scottish voice on the phone then talking a full six seconds to reach me via the talkback I knew that something had to be done to reduce the delay.

Otherwise if any of the presenters asked Sean a question it would take him six seconds after it had been asked before he would even be able to think about the reply.

So, Doug put the talkback onto a phone line that I could dial into which brought the delay down to about a couple of seconds, much more acceptable.

Then just as we were about to go on air the call dropped out. 

I scrambled over the bedroom furniture that was between me and the phone to redial. 

The phone connected. I scrambled back to the camera.

When I got there it was not the programme sound that I could hear over the talkback but talkback form the gallery.

Erron, the director was as clear as a bell but, Sean and I could only hear what the presenters were saying faintly as it was just audio spill from the speakers in the gallery.

We were seconds away form going on air.

I had dialled into the wrong talkback number. There was no time to redial into the correct one.

Sean let anyone who was listening in the gallery that we were not listening to programme sound but the gallery's open talkback.

He was going to have to rely on a cue from Erron because it was all but impossible to hear the presenters however, we were not sure if he had picked that up.

Clearly he had not because after a second or two of silence we heard Erron say, "What happened? Can Sean not hear?"

By that time one of the presenters was apologising for the technical problem and moving on to another item.

I gave myself a good talking to for dialling up the wrong number but, also wondered why Erron had not given Sean a cue like he had done on most of the previous occasions.

The moment had gone. I dialled into the right talkback for the rest of the morning. There was no need to hold a postmortem because it was a mistake that should not get repeated.

The best part about doing the live broadcasts from my room was that as soon as I had dismantled all the camera, sound and lighting I could straight to bed. Likewise Sean and Rav only had to go up a couple of floors to get to their rooms and beds.

Even with this convenience we were only tucked up for what was now a long time, four hours.

Then we had to head out to the stadium to organise the live location for tomorrow's live broadcasts.

Rav had received an e-mail that amused us. ITV Creative were going to be making a pretty big budget promotion film for Good Morning Britain that would air on ITV prime time.

A crew of 15 would be shooting the video in the studio over the next couple of days. We had been requested to provide some material.

The Creative team had provided us with some suggestions for behind the scenes shots.

We considered how we could produce the magic needed to get behind the camera material of what life is like on a live broadcast when I only had one camera.

I had a couple of ideas that might work but would probably not make the final edit given the  high production values that were expected and all that we had to offer was that of a basic news style operation, not a big budget, big crew set up.

At the Stadium Mineirao we liaised with Kelvin the ITN news engineer about the places available to us for our live broadcasts.

We agreed on a location near the north entrance.

The next step was to make sure that we would be allowed by FIFA to be there in the early hours of the morning.

Fabiano, one of the host broadcaster officials was a great help and got all the permissions sorted. He also said that he would join us at midnight when we needed to get in just in case there were any problems.

We went back to the hotel happy that the arrangements for the morning had been organised to try and get some sleep.

If it had been a normal evening then we may have been able to get some precious sleep, but this was no normal evening.

Brazil were playing Cameroon. The hotel was in the middle of the city, which looked like a ghost town. My room was on the eighth floor. The window was double glazed and locked shut.

Even so it sounded like I was in the middle of the stadium. Whenever Brazil looked like scoring or made a good move the roar was loud and sustained.

When the two Brazil goals went in the noise was tantamount to deafening accompanied by volleys of firecrackers and ringing of church bells.

As a result we were lucky if we got an hour of sleep.

Tuesday 24th June
Belo Horizonte

A little after midnight we presented ourselves at the dark, locked gates beside the media entrance. There was no one around.

Rav called Fabiano. Within a few moments he appeared with a couple of security guys.

One of them started to open the gate and then suddenly stopped before there was enough room for us to get through.

There appeared to be some sort of problem. The guy who had been in the process of letting us in was now preventing us getting in. He made a call on his radio.

His eyes seemed to be fixed on my feet.

They were. Speaking with a tone of disbelief Fabiano told us that the problem was that I was wearing flip flops.

For the last couple of weeks this had been, along with a considerable number of others, my main style of footwear.

The brief radio conversation came to an end.

I was not to be allowed in unless I was wearing boots.

Fabiano told us to wait a moment and walked off quite quickly, returning in a matter of a minute or so with a pair of blue boots.

I sank my feet into them. There was almost enough room for me to put both my feet in just one of the boots.

The gate was then opened and we filed through.

For the rest of the morning I clumped around in the boots that must have been at least two sizes to big for me.

The only unusual aspect of this stadium apart from the footwear requirement was that it was not fully lit during the night.

Dave, the engineer came up with the answer by providing an HMI light and a generator to power it so that I could at least light a little bit of the stadium.
The only light on the stadium up the background
Sean on a box again for these broadcasts
Shooting the live
Fabiano had left a short time after he had made sure that there were not going to be any more little hiccups that would scupper our broadcasts.

So when we left around 5 am I left the boots he had lent me flapping around hanging  from a hook outside the Broadcast Information Office.

My levels of stress jumped a bit this morning. Immediately after the last live broadcast my phone ran. As soon as I saw that the incoming call was from my mother I knew that it was not  bearing good news.

She had called because she was not well and needed some immediate help. It sounded quite serious.

I made a few hurried calls. The good thing was that she had been able to call for a Dr as well as calling me.

After a worrying few hours things settled down. She was certainly not better but things were under control and not critical anymore.

There was not a great deal of time to get a lot of sleep this morning when we got back to the hotel because to get back to the stadium with all the kit we had to be on a media bus that was going to leave sharp at 10:30 am.

Since England had been knocked out and we knew when we would be heading home our enthusiasm had declined as had the fervour from London what with the start of Wimbledon and other stories that had overtaken ours.

It was a bright sunny day for the game. One of the best days we had had since being in Brazil. Not bad though considering it was the middle of the South American winter.

Although we had needed to get to the stadium early the only job that we had to do was to get some post match reaction from the fans.

Unfortunately we were not able to get into watch the game from the stands. There were no tickets available for us.

So, we watched from inside the media centre. As has become routine Sean and I left before the final whistle to get the interviews.

The game had been a dismal end to England's campaign in a World Cup that was already being heralded as the best ever. 

Up until now the games had been great contests with some superb goals and the stars had been delivering breathtaking samples of their skills. All that in truly fantastic surroundings and setting.

The fans were honest and depressed about the team's performance with a few suggestions about what needs to be done to improve England's chances in the future. This time there were no hysterical drunken outbursts or offers to insert my camera into any bodily orifices.

The one universal thing that came out was how much the fans had enjoyed being in Brazil and how well they had been treated by the Brazilians and the fans of other countries.

It had been a pleasure doing these interviews not just because of the lack of idiocy, but because we had done them in the bright warm sunlight, not in the dark and needing the horrible piercing light form the camera's top light.
Fans pile out of the stadium in the sun
I then fed that material back to London from the ITN satellite dish before we went back for another pre broadcasting sleep.

It had been a food v sleep contest. Food had won. The three of us gobbled down a pizza before going to our beds.

The bed enveloped me for all of two hours. 

Then I had to get up, earlier than usual to get the gear ready for the live broadcasts and pack for the flight back to Rio.

Once again we would not be able to do all the broadcasts live. The last one would be prerecorded prior to another hasty departure to the airport for the early flight.

We were buoyed up by knowing that these would be our last broadcasts and we would have a full night's sleep tomorrow night followed by almost a full day to relax and perhaps do some sightseeing before the night time flight home.

Wednesday 25th June
Belo Horizonte

Packed for another morning's broadcasting and flight
On the way to the stadium we talked about the story that had emerged out of the Uruguay Italy game. 

Unbelievably, or maybe not quite so unbelievably given his history, Luis Suarez had bitten one of the Italian players.

The social networks like Twitter and Facebook were full of puns and doctored photographs.

My personal favourite by far was the headline put up in the Huffington Post, "Chewy Luis and the Blues."

We thought that this would be the main thrust of our broadcasts. It came as quite a surprise when it was deemed that the story just warranted a couple of lines in Sean's script.

There was no problem with my footwear this morning. The problem was that we were just not going to be allowed in because no one knew anything about us needing to get in.

Rav got straight on the phone to Fabiano. He handed the phone to the security guard. There was a bit of a conversation and calls on the radio.

Then it was apologies all round.

It did not take up long to organised. It is always much easier getting set up in a location that is familiar.

It was the last knackering hurdle. When this morning's broadcasts were over we would be able to relax and think about the journey home.
Sean and Rav getting to the end
Japanese's NHK HD outside broadcast truck 
Our UK ITN slightly smaller set up in a hired van
When the last live broadcast had been done and one to be broadcast later  had been recorded we quickly packed up, said good-bye to Dave and then got a taxi to the airport.

If the return flight from Belo Horizonte had been a little bit longer we may have had something a little more uplifting to drink rather that sparkling water.
Part of the sprawling city of Belo Horizonte from our flight to Rio
Approximately five hours later we were back at our Rio home looking forward to a catch up sleep and some relaxation before tomorrow's flight home.

When I opened my hotel room door to Rav a matter if a few moments after I had dumped my kit his face said it all. I knew that our down time had just become up time.

We were not the only one to have plans to pack up to leave put on hold.

Back at the ITN apartment Colin was being contacted and told not to derig the satellite equipment that he had been hoping to get boxed up.

In London Carol the Good Morning Britain programme organiser was sorting out some new satellite bookings.

The Suarez story had taken off big time. So, we were needed to follow up on it now that FIFA had started an investigation.

Rav and I decided not to tell Sean immediately because he had gone to bed.

When we did tell him after he had managed a short sleep it took us a little while to get him to believe that it was not a joke.

It was not until we were on  our way back to the live position after midnight and he had seen an e-mail referring to our planned live broadcasts from one of the bosses he actually believed us.

We did have time to get a reasonably relaxed meal before another short pre-broadcast sleep.

Thursday 26th June
Rio de Janeiro

For definitely the last time Gi drove us to the Laranjeiras apartment for the extra time broadcasts.

Prior to leaving for the live point I received a little bit of good news. I had been having a few problems with getting checked in and sorting out my seat using the BA iPhone app.

I had sent an e-mail having a bit of a moan about it. When I went to check in for the return flights to Heathrow and on to Edinburgh the surprise that greeted me was not only that I had been allocated the aisle seat that I had wanted, but I had also been upgraded.

So, when I went off to the lives I did not feel quite so bad knowing that on the 11 hour night flight to London I would be able to get a pretty good sleep.
Colin pushing the buttons in Rio for the last time 
Sean doing the voice over for a report before doing the final live broadcasts
At 5 am it was all over. We sent a message to London and had a glass of wine to celebrate going home.
The message we sent to GMB in London
Gi drove us back to the hotel.

Our flight home was not leaving until 9:40 pm. We needed to leave our hotel in Ipanema by about 5 pm to allow enough time to get to the airport.

This meant that we would have time for a quick bit of sightseeing after we got packed. 
Some kit I was glad never made it out of the cases
Gi planned to come and pick us up at 11am to take us up to see Christ the Redeemer, the statue that stands above the spectacular city.

In stark testament to the hours that we had been working since getting to Brazil Rav received a text from him to say that he was not going to be able to make it because he was "destroyed".
Part of Gi's "I am..destroyed" text to Rav
He had not come with us on the trips to Manaus or Belo Horizonte yet he had fallen at the last pleasurable hurdle.

So, we made our own way up Corcovado along with hoards of football fans from all over the world.

Everyone in Rio is watching the World Cup.. 
..including the taxi drivers, when they are driving 
One of the cheeky monkeys on Corcovado..
..many of the football fans..
..lots on their backs to get the shot 
Sean in a bit more of a dignified picture taking position
Spectacular views from the base of the statue
Looking over the lake to Ipanema
Selfie and sightseeing photos from the top of the mountain
Our final bit of stress was not over though.

When we got to the airport to go through the customs formalities, normally during events like simply a rubber stamping process it was anything but.
The customs guy checked every bit of kit 
At last we boarded.

I was not the only one relishing the comfort of the Club World cabin. There were quite a number of other crews who had either been upgraded like me or had actually been booked in the comfort cabin.

Of course there were a few turning left when we got on. They were from the BBC. That was a bit of a surprise. I thought that the licence fee didn't allow for that these days.

Anyway I settled down for the pleasurable flight to London with all the stress behind me, or so I thought.

There was one little bit still to come.

Late on Friday afternoon when I eventually arrived in Edinburgh I arrived alone. The BA Baggage system in Terminal 5 had decided that I did not need any of my nine bags.

I had to wait until Sunday afternoon to be reunited with them.