Monday 20th April
Susan Boyle, the new sensation from “Britain's Got Talent” lives not too far away from me in a small town to the west of Edinburgh. I met Elaine Willcox at Edinburgh airport. Her flight from Manchester was right on time. Good news because we knew that we only had a limited time with this up and coming star.
The journey to Blackburn was short and we got to Susan’s house with only about twenty minutes to film our piece. Talkback Thames the producers of the programme had provided Susan with a minder to take care of the numerous calls, deliveries, requests that were starting to deluge the slightly grey grim semi that has been Susan’s home for all her life. Frank a pleasant soft spoken guy opened the door and invited us in.
Susan greeted us very warmly with a volley of giggles. The unruly slightly dishevelled hair shook as she laughed at the thought of all the attention she was now receiving.
I went back out to get my gear from my car. There was a council van outside the house and a workman busy putting up a fence. I had parked my car beside it outside the neighbour’s house. As I was getting my camera out of the car I heard a voice shout from a car “other folk have got to live here too!”
I turned and looked at a very angry face staring at me.
“where am I supposed to park my car. I live there.” he pointed to the house opposite my car.
I looked up and down the street that was all but empty of parked cars apart from the council van, my car and a couple of others.
I said that it was a public road and continued to shut the tailgate.
“ Bunch of wankers all of you!” was echoing in my ears as I went into Susan’s house.
Elaine and I worked quickly to get a sit sown interview done and then took Susan outside so that I could get shots of her in the environment of her area. I was mildly surprised when a couple of photographers leaped out of a nearby car and started to take pictures of our little group. I got better shots than we had anticipated what with the snappers doing their stuff to the rhythm of shutters clicking, flashes flashing and a fan arriving for a photograph with this unlikely new born celebrity, then stealing a hug and kiss. Susan was taking it all in very good spirits. This is nothing to what she is about to experience if she remains in the spotlight for much longer. It must be a very weird sensation to one day walk down the street as an anonymous person, just one of the crowd. Then the next to be so recognised from being on a huge national TV programme, coast to coast TV in America and be on many many newspaper front pages.
I had time in the house to do a couple of other shots before our allotted time was going to be up and Susan was off on a personal appointment. Elaine asked Susan if she would mind doing a bit of singing with a hairbrush in front of the mirror as she had done as a hopeful teenager. Giving another of her infectious giggles she began dancing around at the mirror above the mantelpiece. I asked her if she could give me a little bit of vocals for some sound. I focused on her reflection in the mirror. As she started to sing I almost forgot to zoom out to reveal that she was at the mirror because her voice was just so captivating. Elaine and I left feeling that we had captured the essence of this jolly, slightly whacky character with a voice like no other.
Outside we spoke to a few of her neighbours to ask what they thought of what was happening to the lady living in their midst. Suddenly the guy that had given me a mouthful was as good as gold. The idea of him getting on telly had him dashing off to put a t-shirt on and actually giving us a good little interview.
The next thing for us to deal with was getting the material to London. The tape would need to go in a taxi to STV in Glasgow about twenty miles along the M8. Neither of us had a great deal of cash on us to pay for the taxi. Jack, the runner in London had to make a few calls to find a taxi firm that would take payment on a credit card over the phone. Elaine and I got on with looking at the material so that she could write her voice over.
The taxi came a short time after we had finished getting Elaine’s voice on tape. I dropped her off at a hotel on the outskirts of Edinburgh and went off home for a few hours sleep before going back in the morning for live broadcasts.