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, 4 August 2009

Search For The Number 1 Family.

Monday 3rd August

At 3am my holiday became a distant memory as I dragged myself out of bed. The last vestiges of relaxation disappeared onto the hectic haze of stress later on in the day.

I drove to The Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow to do live broadcasts prior to the Auditions for GMTV’s hunt for the new family singing sensation. Britain’s Number 1 Family.

We were outside beside the Statue of Donald Dewar, Scotland’s first First Minister. 

The Truck Under Donald's Watchful Eyes.

The light was beginning to grow as was the little crowd of hopeful family groups.

Little Londoner Jeff Brazier also arrived ready to go. He was full of enthusiasm and energy.

Jeff Chats with the Waiting Hopefuls.

It was still early for most folk who unlike us are not used to getting up quite so early.

We had a quick taster of some of the performances. We were all taken by surprise by the quality of singing.

Every one was at least able to hold a tune. There were no nutcases or whacky characters.

Sound Recordist Andy Enjoying His Morning!

The broadcasts were fairly straight forwards and there were no problems. We did a stack of teases and live shots as well as three major ones.

The weather did scupper our plans a little bit. We had to do the last broadcast under the shelter of the entrance to the Concert Hall.

That was the end of the easy stress free part of the day.

Waiting Makes You Hungry.

All that I had to do was to edit down the footage of the auditions so that it could be fed down to GMTV in London.

These days before any editing gets done the raw material has to be fed into a computer. This takes time. 

Then the process of actually editing can take place and it is very flexible.

The old way of editing could start straight away, is not so flexible, but is very quick.

So the old tape to tape way would be easier for us on this occasion.

On Sunday I dusted off my old DVC Pro tape to tape edit kit and gave it a quick test. It had not been used for a year or so but it seemed to be working OK.

I got it set up in a quiet corner behind the audition area to do my easy editing.

Michelle the producer brought me the first tape. I put it into the machine, rewound it to the start and pressed play.

I saw and heard about 5 of 6 seconds of material before it came to a clattering halt and an error message appeared on the display.

Ah, I though. Seen that one before. It’s a tape tension thing. A bit of fast forward and reverse usually sorts that out.

As well as doing that I switched the machine off and on a few times but it did not want to play the tape.

There was no stress for time so the digitising way would have to work. 

I got out my tape player, fired up trusty Final Cut on the mac and ingested the footage.

I quickly edited the material down to the required length for feeding to GMTV.

Then I just needed to put it back on to tape for the feed. 

Then the player and the mac decided to stop talking to each other.

No amount of gentle persuasion would get them to communicate from mac to player. From player to mac was fine.

Cursing I got out the standby little camera and downloaded the edited piece on to tape just in time for it to be taken to STV to be sent down to GMTV.

I then had to get packed up and dash to Glasgow airport to catch a flight over to Belfast for tomorrow’s broadcasts and auditions.

At the Flybe check-in desk the lady told me that I would have to pay excess baggage. I had three things to check-in. 

I stuck them on the scales. One was 24Kg, one was 12Kg, and the other 11Kg.

It is not unusual for me to have to pay excess. It is part of the joy of travel when you’ve got lots of bits of kit. 

Sometimes it is ok and other times it is decidedly outrageous.

Today could have been one of those days when daylight robbery and profiteering and downright theft spring to mind.

The lady looked at me in a very apologetic way and said, “You are travelling with another two people are you not?”


“Do you know if they have any hold bags?”

“Probably not.”

I called Sarah the other producer and found out that both she and Jeff  had bags that were able to go on as hand luggage.

I was able to allocate one of my bags to each of them.

That was good news because the lovely lady informed me that my excess baggage charge would have been £500!

When we got to the world famous Europa hotel it was time for more bad news.

The Most Bombed Hotel in The World.

Andrew the satellite engineer told us that it was not possible to see the satellite that GMTV normally uses. All because the place the sat’ truck needed to park in was now not accessible courtesy of recently newly installed bollards.

There was an alternative satellite that he could use but it was marginal and at an extra cost.

To be sure we needed to so a test. So, in the pouring rain I guided Andrew back in to a position where the satellite could be seen.

It took a fair bit of manoeuvring to get the truck in position.

It was such a relief to see the tell tale signs on the scope that showed we could see the satellite.

Hunting For The Satellite.

The rain was still pouring hard as the light faded and I got to my room at just before 9pm.

Welcome back from hols with a 17 hour working day.

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