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, 15 September 2009

Pride of Britain in Cumbria.

Friday 11th September

Jemma the producer, Graham the sound recordist for the day, Anna our producer actress, and I met up in the breakfast room of the hotel.

We were about to do a reconstruction vt.

Rachel a recently qualified police officer had been confronted with a scary situation and dealt with it efficiently and bravely.

Alone out on patrol she had gone to deal with a drugged up man trying to set his ex-partner alight by pouring petrol over her.

Rachel’s part in the reconstruction was going to be played by Anna an actress who sometimes works as a freelance producer at GMTV.

Rachel helps Anna on with her uniform.........
....then shows her how she dealt with the maniac.

Graham gets Anna mic'd up.

It would have been difficult for Rachel to take part in this rather physical reconstruction because she was  very close to giving birth to her first child.

Rachel the Brave Police Officer and Bump.

I heaved a heavy black holdall bearing a discrete police label into my car was Anna’s “costume” for the day.

We drove to the Cumbria Police’s Workington HQ where we did an interview with Rachel and one of her senior officer bosses.

This gave us the details of what we needed to shoot when it came to doing the reconstruction.

Rachel’s dangerous situation was made worse because it happened in a less than salubrious area in a distant corner of the region many miles away from assistance.

For logistical reasons we would recreate the terrifying events in a little quiet estate not far from the police station. 

The peaceful well tended gardens with their neatly cropped hedges and smart cars in the driveways of the sandy bricked modern houses were  a bit upmarket from the actual location.

On of Rachel’s most vivid memories of her arrival at the altercation was that the drugged up nutcase was trying to drench the woman in petrol from a green petrol can.

So we needed a green petrol can.

The opening shots of the VT would be Rachel, played by Anna driving around in her patrol car and then blue lights flashing dashing to the scene.

This was going to be more difficult to shoot than at first thought because for insurance reasons Anna would not be allowed to actually drive a police car.

So I went off with a police officer, Alison to get some shots of the police car moving along the road.

Anna and Graham went off to get a petrol can.

On their return Anna had said that she had been quite surprised at how helpful and deferential everyone had been when they had been on their little shopping trip.

Then she realised she was in costume.

We wondered what was going through the minds of the folk at the petrol station when a police woman was buying a petrol can and several lighters.

I then had to get some close up shots of Anna in the patrol car as if she was driving.

All these shots had to be done without any real reference to the outside of the car.

The main bit of audio that we would be using was the radio call from the control room to Rachel telling her about the incident and her response message.

The problem was that the only thing that the police had not provide us with was a radio.

I improvised. I clipped a little radio receiver that I use for talkback on to Anna’s uniform.

There are bound to be geeks out there that will realise that not only is it not a police radio but it is a bit silly to be talking into it because it is not a transmitter.

Anna "Auditioning" for the Bill Complete with Faux Radio.

Anna and Rachel Enjoy the Sunny Workington Weather.

When the set up shots were being done by Anna, Graham and me Jemma was having the obligatory stress.

She had organised a couple of drama group actors to play the violent nutter and the cowering victim.

Sean playing the thug had turned up but the girl playing the victim had called off.

There was a while when it looked like there would be no victim until after a number of phone calls and a fair bit of favour asking and family persuasion Rachel’s sister agreed to be doused in prop petrol.

She then received a call to say that a heroic fireman she was going to film with had taken uncustomary cold feet and pulled out of the filming.

Clare, Rachel’s sister arrived quite quickly and we got on with filming the struggle that took place between Rachel and the maniacle ex-boyfriend.

During the shooting a number of the middle class locals popped out to inquire about what was going on.

It took a few hours to get it all in the can.

I think that it was with great reluctance that Anna gave up her temporary officer status.

She did look the part. Could this little cameo lead to a background part in the Bill, then a walk on part in Taggart, then a speaking part in Silent Witness, followed by the lead in a brnd new cop drama that launches a feature film, blockbusting DVD and multimillion selling X-box game?

Alternatively I am sure she’d go down a storm at Stag Nights :)

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