After a pleasant and speedy drive down the M6 I arrived at the swanky Hilton hotel in Manchester city centre last night in time to get a reasonable nights sleep.
The production team that had organised the location had done a great job in organising a special parking place for the satellite truck.
There were notices on trees and on the parking machines. The particular space that allowed the satellite to be seen over the roofs of the nearby buildings and the leafy trees had been coned off.
Even still with this yellow stuff all over the place someone managed to ignore it and park in what was potentially the only sure place from which the truck could see the satellite.
Paul the engineer parked not far from that bay but far enough away from the handy gap in the buildings and trees.
The satellite truck was a “UPod” which means that in theory it should find the satellite and lock on to it automatically.
Paul pressed the button in the hope that the the thing would do its stuff.
The dish popped up. It judderingly whirred and clicked as searched the sky looking through the clouds to the space beyond.
Then it stopped. It was pointing roughly in the right direction.
However, all the little symbols on the computer screen that should have been a comforting green were stubbornly red.
We looked at the dish. We looked at the screen. Nothing was moving or changing colour.
Paul shook his head. He was going to have to try to find the satellite manually which is a bit of a long slow process with the UPod or Poopod as it is rather unaffectionetly nicknamed.
The folk that had abandoned the car must have had pretty warm ears!
Suddenly after a good few moments of inactivity the dish did a twitch just like one of those jerks that you do when you’re about to fall asleep in the chair watching TV.
At the same time all the green things lit up.
Technically we were in a go mode for live broadcasts.
The families were starting to turn up. There were more than had been at either Glasgow or Belfast.
The Comedy Club in Manchester was pretty full of kids, mums, dads, brothers, cousins and any other type of relationship you care to mention.
All aspiring to record an album for Christmas.
Of course the weather genie knew when we were going on air and sent a mini deluge on to us.
Jeff Brazier our presenter for the No 1 Family series arrived from the hotel all bright and ready to go.
In true “The Show Must Go On” fashion we roused the crowd into a few choruses of “Singin’ in the Rain”.
We were supposed to be doing three main broadcasts but the news that “the father” of Michael Jackson’s kids had come out pushed out our 8:30 one.
We did the other ones without any mishap a little out in the rain and a little inside in the dry.
When we came off air I handed the reigns of the camera to my colleagues Geoff and Mark to do the filming of the auditions that would take place nearly all day.
Pete the sound recordist, Paul the engineer and I then made our excuses and left.
They went home. I got ready to nip down to Birmingham for tomorrows programme.
At least I thought that I would be able to nip down what with the rush hour all finished.
Maybe all the rest of the masses on the M6 had the same idea.
It wasn’t as pleasant or speedy as last night.