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.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

MP's Ex's, Lorraine's Dad, And The Gamble Pays Off!!!

Monday 25th May

A fairly easy week last week.

Last Monday I had a schlep down the M6 and cross the M62 to Scunthorpe, the constituency of Elliot Morley one of the many MPs who have been claiming rather large amounts of expenses.

I met Miranda the reporter in the car park of a working men's club near the town centre. The local were all, quite rightly up in arms about the huge amount of mortgage interest this character had claimed when in fact the mortgage was all paid off.

I was not allowed to film in the club because the Brewery would not be happy. So we did the interviews outside. 

Dodging the heavy showers but making use of the dark grey clouds hanging over the dreary place I  shot some general views.

We found a local shopkeeper who was so angry about the whole thing and this local MP in particular. A  scammer who has not appeared to live up to the term “honourable”.

Miranda did an interview and I shot some set up shots of him. All easy stuff so far.

Things got a little bit more stressful when we got to the hotel. The tape of the material had to go over to YTV in Leeds before it closed for the evening in order to be fed to GMTV.

Long story short: Not enough cash. Taxi company only take credit card to max £25. Hotel unable to bill taxi to room. Time ticking on.

After much discussion locally and calls from the office in London to the manager of the hotel it was all sorted just in time to get the tape to YTV.

Next morning we arrived at the town centre location prepared to do our first live into the 6am news bulletin. Then we were told that we would only be doing a broadcast at 7:10. 

So cursing, not really under our breaths we sat around in the satellite truck bemoaning the fact that we could have had another precious hour in bed.

The constant knocking on the truck window and conversation with a member of the local homeless wine connoisseur community helped pass the time.

My journey home was a bit of a pain because the M62 was closed because of a bad accident.

Wednesday was filled with little trivial bits of organisation and vital admin’, my expenses. Thought about sticking down an unreceipted amount for cutting my grass and cleaning the kitchen but changed my mind.

On Thursday afternoon I meandered through to Wishaw General Hospital where I was to meet Nick and do some filming in the hospital for the GMTV library.

There is always a need for as many shots as possible of general medical and hospital based activities to cover lots of different stories when there is no possibility of getting the specific shots. It is often very difficult to get the permission to shoot in hospitals.

The hospital PR chap was very pleasant and wanted to be helpful to allow us to get what we needed. We rather thought that there would have been a few of the things on the list that was sent to him already set up for us to film. 

What happened was that he had to set things up as we went. Some of the departments were not quite as co-operative as we had hoped. However, we did manage to get a little done before he had to call time.

On Friday morning I drove up to Dundee, early but not too early. At the Dundee Observatory I met Brett the Producer. We had a quick look around working out where we would film. The piece we were doing was with Lorraine Kelly and her dad. it was one of a series of pieces to air the week before Father’s Day. 

I was very surprised to see how young and vibrant John her dad was. It all became clear during the morning when I found out that he was only eighteen when Lorraine was born.

The location had been chosen because Lorraine is a self confessed space geek. A fascination she developed when she was a youngster watching the progress of the Apollo missions with her dad.

It was clear from the way that they interacted that they had a great relationship and common interest.

The filming went off without a hitch. Lorraine is very easy to work with and her dad was a very nice guy.

Nikki from the GMTV Press Office had asked me if I could do a couple of photographs of Lorraine and her dad that could be used in the listings magazines etc’. So I switched from video mode to still mode a couple of times.

Lorraine and her Dad!

Now I am off on my travels again. 

Destination: Rome.

Assignment: Champions League Final Man U. v Barca

The taxi from home dropped me at Edinburgh airport to start the journey. There was no great fuss about my six boxes at check in because the excess had been prepaid by our travel company. 

The only thing was that one of my bags was just over the 23kg limit. All the others were well under that but even although the weight limit is 32kg the girl at the check in insisted that either I pay another £25 or transfer things to a lighter box. 

The extra weight was made up of the stab vest body armour that I was carrying for both Elaine and myself.

There is a possibility of a bit of bother in Rome with a combination of Russian thugs, local Roma hooligans and the fans from both the teams playing. I rather hope that there is no trouble and we do not have to wear them. 

I managed to get the vests in a couple of the other boxes. That kept her happy. Normally the BA staff are a bit more realistic about excess. I was just unlucky enough to get a humourless stickler for the rules.

The flight to London was busy although the terminal had been very quiet for a Monday morning. 

Then I remembered that it was a bank holiday. I would like to travel more on bank holidays. There was no long queue at the security and the cafes were all civilised.

I had to wait in Heathrow for the busy flight to Rome for a little bit more than an hour. It was a bit busier there.

I passed the time doing the first part of this blog and having a coffee.

The flight to Rome was very busy, not too many pissed up fans yet.

The walk from the aircraft to the baggage area via passport control was long, plenty of time for the kit to be on the belt.

Aye, Right! Even after the marathon walk I still had to wait for ages until the kit came off.

I spoke to Elaine to let her know my progress. She told me that GMTV in London were asking for shots of the Manchester United team arriving at their hotel.

I looked at my watch. Oh dear it was going to be pretty tight.

I dumped my many boxes at the hotel and grabbed a taxi to head to the team hotel.

En route Elaine told me that I was effectively in a race with the Man’ U. team coach. It, we were reliably informed had left the airport.

My taxi dropped me at the hotel. Phew!  The team had not arrived.

There was the usual chaos with other camera crews, photographers and local Italians jostling around without really knowing where to be for the arrival.

The police then started to put tape out marking the place where the bus would stop.

There was an initial rush for the best positions. It was not yet a full blown scrum but it was shaping up for a good bit of push and shove for the best shots.

Along with most of the rest of the pack I had gone to the side where the exit door of a left hand drive coach would hopefully be.

The "Pack" on the right side?

I thought that it might be worth while getting an alternative angle on the bus. It was a gamble that I might get different shots from the rest of the guys. it's nice not to all have the same images, but a bit risky.

There was a Granada cameraman on that side so if the worst came to the worst and the gamble did not pay off I could go head bowed, slightly red faced and plead for us to use his shots.

It was a long wait. Where were they? Had they gone for a tour of the city? What was all the panic?

As with all these events there were a few false starts when the sirens of ambulances and flashing blue lights of passing were seen and heard. 

At last it was definitely them. The bus was waved into the parking area by the police.

It was being put in the position I had worst feared. I was going to get nothing but fleeting shots of the superstars disappearing into the gloom of the hotel.

Then it hit me. It was a right had drive UK bus. The exit door was being put straight in front of me! All the other crews were now on the wrong side.

A few Manchester United officials came off first. Then the first famous face to appear was Sir Alex Ferguson. His smile was momentary, not like mine which was beaming. The gamble had paid off big time.

The rest of the players from cascaded out of the bus like coins tumbling out of a one armed bandit paying out the big win.

I got shots of all the main players as they came out of the bus, collected their kit and went into the hotel. It was a bit manic because there were security, both Italian and from the club all over the place getting in the way.

With a feeling of great pleasure Elaine and I went on to film the rest of the piece for the morning.

We had trouble finding any fans because they had not arrived.

It was a bit of a trek across the city to do a couple of pieces to camera at the points where the fans might be and where there is a possibility of a little trouble.

It was after 10pm before we both got to our beds happy with what we had achieved.


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