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.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Back Over the Sea to Sanquhar

I was pleasantly surprised when I got to George Best Airport to get the flight because I did not have to pay any excess baggage. That was because I had been booked on Premium Economy with Flybe thus upping my baggage allowance to cover the full 30kgs I had with me. The other good thing was that I was allowed into the Executive Lounge upstairs. Pity I only had time to grab an orange juice and make a few calls about what’s happening next week.

The flight across the water to Edinburgh was uneventful but not pleasant because I was desperate for a pee and there was a little bit of turbulence. Anyway I made it to the terminal building without mishap!!

Once you leave the motorway and head across country in to deepest Dumfries and Galloway the scenery is beautiful. Not rugged and spectacular like the mountains farther north but, softer with many sheep using the roads as extensions of their fields. I saw none of it because it was well dark. All I was aware of were the twisting bends on the road and the huge puddles made by the melt water flowing off the hills. 

I arrived a very pleasant looking tiny Country house hotel called Blackaddie. When I went to open the door it was locked. I was a little surprised as it was only around 9pm. As I tried the door for a second time, thinking that perhaps it was stuck. A small stocky lady arrived and let me in. She greeted me with a good Scottish Borders welcome by saying, “If your wanting food you’ll need to think about ordering it now!” As I was quite hungry I did. Then I saw my two colleagues, Nick the Reporter and Minty from Visit Scotland laughing from the small dining room at my first encounter with the hotel staff. 

The food was, I have to say, quite superb and the room very comfortable. It should have been it was their Bridal Suite.

After the great food we all went off to bed, separately of course, life in telly’s not all grabbing shagging and leaving, I sometimes wish it was.

I managed about 5 hours kip. We left the hotel at 5am. There was a lot to do when we arrived at Sanquhar Primary  School. There was Skerryvore, a great band with drums, a fiddle, guitars and naturally, bagpipes, loads of  kids with lanterns they had made for a big parade in a few days, the school choir and the vital thing, a haggis. There was a bit of mad dashing about because as the band were half way through setting up the rain started to fall. So we had to quickly get them a position under some cover. Then a lamp I was lighting the action with decided to blow. These lights have an inbuilt mechanism that makes sure they go out with just not enough time to repair them before the live broadcast starts. So the first little piece started at a rush. Fair play to all those that took part, they were great.

The Burns poetry was done well, the little choir sang perfectly and Skerryvore were the consummate professionals hitting every note spot on even with fingers numb and blue from the bitter cold.

The rest of the mornings broadcast went well, even the Mr Motivator work out that was thrown in at the last minute involving the whole school. TV reception is not great. To allow the kids and teachers to be able to see GMTV so that they could join in. I had to get a lovely little girl to hold the TV ariel in a certain position to keep the fuzzy picture as steady as possible. It made a fantastic shot for the workout. Then of course there were the little primary 1 and nursery kids in their tiny kilts and sporrans not quite sure what all the madness was but joining in anyway and looking very cute.  The staff at the school had obviously put a lot of hard work into it all.

The kids loved joining in with Motivator even if he was a bit fuzzy.

I then drove home via the airport to drop Nick off so he could get back to London. We had said goodbye and thanks to the lovely Minty (Short for Lavinia ??) from Visit Scotland and were on a bit of a high as the feedback from the studio in London about our hard work this morning was very positive.

At last I got to see the lovely countryside in the bright clear sunlight. One or two sheep did try to graze on the tarmac, but without success. There wasn’t enough room to drive round them. Thankfully they had just enough road sense to move before I claimed them as road kill.

When I got home I had some domestic things to do before getting packed for the first leg of the trip to Jamaica. There was so much I needed to do to get ready and there were the obligatory calls from the office with final details about the kit I was and wasn’t taking so that the various vital but boring bits of official paperwork could get done that I got to the airport check-in with my four cases just as the flight was closing. I duly paid the excess baggage and heaved yet another sigh of relief that I had made the flight.

The flight was to Heathrow but I would be leaving at 9:40am from Gatwick. That meant a car to take me to the hotel at Gatwick. I arrived there at 10:45pm. I will need to be up again pretty early to give me enough time to do all the customs paperwork and get checked in for the flight to Montego Bay.

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