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.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Where's Our Guest Gone?

Monday 16th August

In the dark and rain colin and I pulled into the car park of the new extended Erskine House in Edinburgh.

Our first thought was that we hope that we’d be doing our broadcasts from inside out of the horrid weather.

Erskine House is a charity that runs hospitals and other facilities for wounded servicemen and ex-servicemen. 

Perhaps under normal circumstances the opening of a place like this would not warrant much coverage by the national media.

However with the death toll in Afghanistan going over the 200 mark it became a bigger event.

Jonathan Swain had been sent up from GMTV in London to cover the story.

We would be working alongside the crew and reporter from BBC breakfast.

It was lucky that neither of us were going to be on air at exactly the same time so we could happily use the same areas.

Both of us were broadcasting from 6am onwards. 

The main GMTV broadcasts were planned to be just Jonathan on his own talking to camera and at around 7:10 the Commanding Officer, Major Roddy Sutherland would do a down the line interview with Andrew Castle in the GMTV studio.

The first couple of broadcasts for us and the BBC went off without a hitch and we did not trip over each others cables.

The BBC Get Ready To Go.

At around 7am Colin and I started to set up for the Major Sutherland’s interview.

Five minutes later Jonathan went off to get the Major.

Things were getting close to him going on air but there was  of sign of him.

Jonathan came and told us he was in the BBC truck preparing for an interview on radio Five Live.

I called the studio to confirm the time of the broadcast.

Then I got some good news. The plan was that the item would be at just after ten past but for a couple of minutes before the Major’s interview there was to be in interview with the mother of a soldier wounded in Afghanistan.

That gave us a bit of breathing space.

Jonathan ran out to the BBC truck to try and hurry things along.

There broadcast time was running late. Major Sutherland was about to start talking.

Jonathan rushed back inside to tell us and call London to let them know.

There was now only about three minutes until the studio came to us.

The Chief Executive of Erskine Major Jim Panton was close by.

Jonathan called to him, “Could you do a live for us now?”

We then heard that the satellite link from the mother’s house had failed and we were needed in less than one minute.

So, almost before he had the time to reply Colin was stuffing an earpiece in his ear and I was ushering him into a position where I could have him in the foreground and exercising soldiers in the background.

Major Panton had nodded to me asking if he could hear the studio alright when the director said in my right ear, “coming to Edinburgh.”

Andrew was introducing the Major and he was off and talking.

He did a great job considering he'd been thrown in at the last second and it was the first time that he’d done such a broadcast.

I suppose that not being phased by such a potentially stressful occurrence should have been expected from an ex Apache Attack Helicopter Pilot.

I was also impressed with how quickly the information about his name got to Andrew and the caption operator.

He was wrapping up his little chat when Major Sutherland appeared.

In a later broadcast he did not miss his moment in the limelight because Jonathan chatted to him our next broadcast.

Is That the Newsdesk on the Phone Jonathan?

Shortly afterwards we got the clear to go. 

We started to pack up as all the rest of the media started to roll up including an ITN crew from London.

Not that long after we came off air I got a call from Paul the programme organiser at GMTV to alert me to a little bit of filming in Hull tomorrow.

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