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.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Elaine's Wee Stained Trousers and a Visit to The Vatican.

Wednesday 27th May

It was a bit cooler this morning as our taxi driver raced us to the location overlooking the Colosseum. He drove as if his pole position was at stake. 

Ben, Emily and I arrived at the satellite truck suffering from a slight excess of G force and well aware that our budding Mad Max would take on all comers in a game of chicken, and win.

The journey took half the time it had taken us yesterday. 

We paid for it though. He charged more than it costs to get from the airport to the city centre. 

Hey Ho, a thrill ride for three, and transport to the workplace costing a mere fifty Euros. 

The first hit was nice and Easy. It was just a sedate piece to camera with Ben and the Colosseum in the background.

Emily getting told what the programme wanted.

Looking every inch at home in Rome and blending in with the local style the smiling gent that is Henry Winter strode over to do his bit “down the line” with Presenter John Stapleton.

Henry is the Daily Telegraph’s main football writer, author of Steven Gerrards Biography and regular guest on GMTV.

He is always a pleasure to deal with and a great font of knowledge about footy.

He was joined by the Ex- Chief Exec'of the FA David Davis who has been a long time Manchester United fan. He was particularly excited because he had just become a granddad.

Emily briefing Henry and  the ex-FA Chief Exec' David Davis.

I wired him for sound from the studio and mic’d him up. As ever the interview with John about the game went very well.

Ben and Kevin have a chat before he does his bit.

Emily had organised for a lot of fans we had met yesterday to come to our location to be on the programme. As the morning wore on they started to turn up with the regulation football strips and scarves.

Some even arrived with banners and replicas of the cup. They were all excited and brimming with confidence at the prospect of another cup win.

We did a lot of broadcasts with them leaping up and down, and singing various football chants that were able to be put out to the breakfast audience. Ben also did a few little interviews with some of the fans.

It was looking pretty good. All the action and bright red of the Man’ U. colours in the bright morning sunlight really giving a good flavour of the mood.

It is a pity that the same could not be said for the sound. When there is no Sound Recordist that is my responsibility. 

There was one of the broadcasts where the sound was a bit distorted for my liking. I was trying to get the sound levels right when there was all this variety of soundscape going on.

There was also a bit of pressure on Ben from that point of view because he was having to do it all with a stick mic. So it was his job to try and keep the mic at the correct distance.

Anyway on one of the occasions when I was busy trying to; keep an interesting framing, make sure, with the sun going in and out a bit, that the exposure of the picture was correct, be thinking about who Ben might talk to next, listen the sound of the programme Presenters in my left ear, listen to the sound from the Director in the Gallery back in London in my right ear, and monitor the sound with both ears the sound was no up to scratch.

I earned great kudos amongst my sons and their friends when on one of the broadcasts we did a little bit with Mani the exbass player with the Stone Roses and now Primal Scream.

Sometimes I can be a cool dad.

Mani the Man "on air".

The Manc' and The Geordie.

After the madness of a busy morning we went to our little nearby coffee shop for a very welcome breakfast.

We were all pretty tired because none of us had a great deal of sleep last night by the time we had finished.

Back at the hotel we planned to relax for a couple of hours before the busy night ahead.

Elaine went for a sleep. Emily tried to chill, but had to think about and contact potential guests for tomorrows programme.

Ben went for a short sleep. I chilled for an hour and wrote my blog.

Ben had not seen much of Rome apart from this morning’s location by the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain during our bit of filming last night.

To be able to give a truer overall flavour and his impressions of the city he really needed to see and experience a bit more.

So, with only a short time available and our hotel being quite near to the Vatican I went with him to do a whistle stop tour.

We arrived at the Vatican Museum to see no queue. At the door we asked a guide if it was still open. He said it was but only for an hour.

Ben and I looked at each other, shrugged and went in. There was a slight flash of surprise on the guide’s face.

As we got in to the building proper after going through security and buying the tickets we began to realise why.

The place is vast and full of fantastic wonderful works of art.

We decided that the obvious must see is the Cistene Chapel. 

The great historic and breathtaking things on display kind of whizzed passed us as we strode through the long corridors, our heads on a swivel as we looked this way and that.

Then we noticed a rather interesting thing. There were many more Manchester United fans in town. Barcelona had even returned several thousand of their ticket allocation unable to sell them all.

There were thousands of Man’ U. fans around the place desperate to get a ticket because the Man’ U. allocation was sold out.

In and around the Vatican there were countless Barcelona strips and loads of people not wearing them speaking in Spanish.

We saw one red Manchester united strip and heard very few folk talking in English.

The few that we did see were keen either to nudge each other as we passed and whisper “Is that Ben Shepherd?”, or “Is that guy on the telly?”.

Some wanted a quick photo of Ben.

They were mostly just here on holiday and not interested in the game.

The Cistene Chapel is a pretty special place and we gazed and marvelled at the artwork not really knowing what it all symbolised.

We both felt a bit embarrassed about our ignorance of what the significance of all this breathtaking beauty was.

There were a few little guided groups being told about the history of and told stories about the site of Michael Angelo’s masterpieces.

We sidled up to a few hoping to get a little education, but we would have needed to have been educated in either German, Spanish, Italian of some strange slavic language to have taken advantage of our eavesdropping skills.

I did buy a guide book from a shop on the way round, but neither of us had time to read it.

It was getting near the time to get back in order to get ready for the night’s action.

There was just time for a quick nip to St Peter’s Square. 

Only Barcelona strips in sight near the Vatican.

Ben on the other side of the camera in the famous square.

Ben and another new friend in St Peter's Square.

Ben went off to see the game.

Elaine, Emily and I went on the hunt for fans watching the game. 

First stop was a bar called the “British Bulldog”. It was so full that there was a crown on the street peering through the doors and windows craning their necks to get some kind of view of the game.

There were a few English accents but the bulk were Italian. 

There had been a booze ban imposed by the Italian authorities for a period before, after and during the game. Bars and restaurants were not allowed to sell alcohol of any description.

A great number of the people were drinking out of plastic juice bottles. It was a strange thing because this “juice” was causing a little bit of slurred speech and staggering. 

It also had a familiar non fruity smell!

I did a few shots of the activity and surprisingly, the lack of reaction to the game. 

The inside of the bar was very dark so we decided to go and check out an Irish bar that we had been told about.

The Irish Bar was huge,two bars with a restaurant in the middle. There were two things that were clear as soon as we pocked our heads round the door.

There were lots of fans in red and they were scooping back the supposedly banned booze.

I was stunned that the management of the place was happy for us to film the flagrant disregard for the ban. There was a big sign on the door saying that no alcohol would be on sale.

Anywhere I pointed the camera all I could see were faces that were fixed with resigned disbelief. 

All the fans we had spoken to and every pundit earlier were quite certain that it was going to be a definite Manchester win, No question.

That confidence had seeped away like the beer from a lone discarded beer bottle trickling down a drain in gutter.

At the end of the game we did the obligatory interviews with the disappointed fans. They were upset about the result but did not offer excuses just saying the on the night the best team had won.

The losing fans always evaporate away right after the final whistle leaving the streets clear for the victors to party.

We went to the Trevi Fountain to do a piece to camera and sure enough within fifteen minutes of the end of the game almost the only fans visible on the street were wearing the red and blue of Barca.

Elaine did her piece to camera accompanied in the distant background by Barcelona fans singing and banging a drum.

The really pleasing thing for us was that the advertised trouble had come to nothing. The body armour was safely in the bags we were obliged to carry with us.

The only thing left to do was record the voice over and send the material to London, this time by the much more reliable way from a satellite dish.

The only place I could find for Elaine to record her script was a little dark corner beside a wall near to the satellite truck.

Elaine sat on a low wall below the higher wall to get shielded from the small amount of background noise. 

Wiggling her bottom on the wall to get comfortable she prepared to deliver the lines into the mic. A slight zephyr wafted past us delivering a cooling breeze. Simultaneously we wrinkled up our noses and gagged.

The stench of human recycled drink was overwhelming. At the same time Elaine screwed up her face as she stood up slowly and gingerly.

The little dark quiet corner not far from the satellite truck and a bar was obviously an annex to the bar’s toilet.

Elaine had sat in the improvised external urinal. Her white trousers were now not really so white and certainly not fresh!

Back at the hotel as we parted to fall into our beds Elaine was aware that her Blackberry had joined my sunglasses as Italian crime statistics.

I fell into my bed with the prospect of nearly three hours in it before the next days live broadcasts.

No comments:

Post a Comment