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, 22 January 2009

Over to Belfast!!!

I woke up after a slightly less restful sleep than I would have liked. The satellite problem was not something that I was consciously worried about but I assume that my subconscious was having a bit of a hard time. Anyway time to meet the guys in reception at a quarter to six. Dave and Bob had arrived last night after I was in bed but not sleeping. Michelle had come up from the metropolis, no not Glasgow, London. We had been together on a couple of the Motivator workouts last week.

Sandy, the jolly round janitor greeted us at the school and was very helpful by doing the important thing of getting the kettle on and coming up with the coffee. Sadly by the time I got around to even looking at mine it was pretty cold.

The TV gods were on my side for once. The GP room that we were going to use for the workout faced out in to a little quadrangle but at least it was in the rough direction of where the Astra satellite should be. So clambering out the window I started to wave the dish about a bit and after a short while found a signal. I was just a bit relieved. The only problem was that it was all german channels. I had found the wrong Astra. The one I needed was just a little way off, only ten degrees. Yippee! Found it! Now another little problem, I really didn’t want to spend the rest ot the morning perched out on the window ledge with a satellite dish held above my head. A step ladder and the roof above the classroom came to my rescue and after a little more fiddling with the satellite receiver box and a crash course in German we found ITV. Then I started to breathe a little more easily.

By then it was getting very close to the time of our first little tease and the first workout. I turned my attention to getting some lighting done and making sure that the camera was ok. Once I was happy with that there was time to have a quick run through of what we were about to do. The plan was for the presenters in the studio to talk to Louise Smith, the teacher and Rachel, one of the kids. Then they would all follow Mr Motivator in his workout routine. It all went off according to plan. Louise and Rachel were great. I often have to marvel at how people cope with a strange disembodied voice in their ear asking questions when they know that several million people will be watching.

We did two bits into the GMTV programme one at ten past eight and one nearly on hour later. Time to catch another breath you might think. Oh no because I had to feed some material to London that I had filmed on Sunday. That took up all the time in between the live broadcasts.

Once we had finished we all had to get on the road straight away. So getting the stuff derigged as quickly as we could we said goodbye to the teachers and Sandy the Janny.

I needed to get back to Edinburgh for an appointment with my Physiotherapist at The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. I had torn my calf muscle on the Sunday before New Year and I an still getting rehab treatment on it. I also had to get Michelle to Edinburgh airport to catch a flight to London. We did manage to grab a coffee and bacon roll to go in Aviemore on the drive down. It was a beautiful bright sunny day, perfect for the spectacular snow scenes on the A9 through the Scottish Highlands. It is a magical sight even thrashing down the road, legally of course, with a deadline to meet. Enroute we were both taking calls, me hands free of course, about various things going on. I was to go to Belfast on  another Motivator live broadcast and then at the weekend jet off to the Caribbean for a few days shooting. It was shaping up to be a busy few days ahead what with Rabbie Burns’ 250th Anniversary on Friday and a possible live broadcast for me in Alloway near Ayr.

I got Michelle to the airport in time to wolf down a quick snack lunch before she left and I carried on to the Physio’. The car park queue at the hospital was huge and I sid not have time to wait in it. So I found a space where there is some building work being done. Along with about half a dozen other cars I parked up and went in for my session with Jade. I was there getting my leg sorted out with various exercises for about half an hour. When I got back to the car I had been given a ticket!! I was rather pissed off to say the least. I could go on and on and develop this in to a real rant about the state of traffic mismanagement in and around Edinburgh. Something best kept for another time I think. 

I just had a little time at home to organise the minimal kit to take over to Belfast for tomorrows live. I got it down to the minimum possible to do the job to reduce the chance of having to pay a crazy amount of excess baggage. I then headed for the airport. I was almost there when  a vision came into my mind. It was of a television camera sitting on my lounge floor waiting patiently to be put back into it’s cosy little box in the back of the car. I rang home and organised my son to get the camera to me at the airport. I checked in with my two bags. Even although I had rationalised my kit it was still 30kg. The allowance was 20kg. I had to pay £10 per kilo!! The budget flight was no longer much of a budget at another £100 plus £3 for paying by credit card. Gone are the days when the airlines gave a bit of flexibility in charging regular flyers excess baggage. After I reluctantly but with a smile paid my excess the camera arrived and another sigh was heaved. In the lounge I had time for a sandwich, a fruit juice and a coffee.

The flight was uneventful except it was quite windy on the approach to Belfast City airport, but nothing major. As I was getting my expensive bags off the belt my wife Anne called to say that there was a problem with the Sky box and remote at home. I offered some suggestions as to how that could be solved. 

I met Sarah the Producer and after getting the little hire car I drove us to Ballymena. We met Julien, a very bubbly hairdresser at her salon above a trendy furniture shop in the town. We had a quick look around to see if things would work for tomorrow. It all looked great. We got back into the car and got to our hotel at around nine thirty pm. 

Just another day in the life of a cameraman on GMTV. 

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