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.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Too Late for talkback so "Cue Me!" and Lockerbie Intrigue.

Wednesday 2nd September

There was probably going to be a bit of trouble and arguments later today in the Scottish Parliament as a Censure motion was going to be discussed over the release of Mr Megrahi.

We would not have any trouble because all we had to so were some simple stand upper lives with Gloria De Piero and a down the line interview with Iain Gray the Leader of the Labour party in the Holyrood parliament.


With the cloudy sky glowing over the Palace of Holyrood Ian the sound recordist and I leisurely got our kit organised.

Edinburgh is just beautiful at dawn.

Is Ian more interested in the runner than Gloria?

We found out that Iain Gray was not going to be joining us this morning. However, Dr Jim Swire the father of one of the Lockerbie victims would be. 

I was aware of Huw the satellite engineer being a little more active than normal.

He was trying to work out why although the talk back from the GMTV studio was getting to the truck he could not get it out to us either on the cable or by radio.

As ever it was getting very close to our broadcast time. 

I called Dave the technical director in London to let him know that things were not quite going as smoothly as we would like.

I had a back up plan. I could use my phone to dial into the talk back and give Gloria the phone’s earpiece to hear the programme.

There was less that a minute to go when I got connected. 

I went to give the earpiece and phone to Gloria.

“Just cue me!” she said 

I could hear the Erin the director give Gloria a standby as I leapt back to the camera.

I shoved my eye towards the eyepiece as Erin said, “cue.”

My hand dropped quickly giving Gloria the cue.

She did her stuff.

After that broadcast we went back to the truck to see Huw looking at diagrams, unplugging and replugging cables.

The radios stayed resolutely silent.

The next broadcast was not for another twenty minutes. That gave us time to get Gloria sorted with my phone and and an earpiece.

Straight after that it was Dr Swire’s turn to be interviewed by John Stapleton from the GMTV studio.

There was not much time between Gloria coming off air and Dr Swire going on.

Under normal circumstances that is not a problem but when there is only one talk back unit available there needs to be enough time to change it.

There was just enough time for Ian to extract the earpiece and phone from Gloria and insert it in to Dr Swire.

By the time Dr Swire was wired up there was still a minute or so before his interview.

He stood in front of the camera relaxed and all ready to go.

John Stapleton was starting to read the link into the interview when the little earpiece gremlin started shoving the earpiece out of Dr Swire’s ear.

John was now almost on the question directed at Dr Swire.

He was trying to shove the thing back in. Ian leant in to help.

For a fleeting moment the viewers had sight of his hand fiddling with Dr Swire’s ear.

John asked him if he could hear. When the dignified and unflustered Dr Swire replied to him the interview went on without a hitch.

Strolling to the interview.

Ian wires up Dr Swire.

Not so interested in this runner Ian? Well it is a bloke!

When we were off air Dr Swire had a little chat with Ian and Me.

He told us something that we were both unaware of.

On the morning of the bombing the area at Heathrow where the doomed Pan Am aircraft was parked had been broken in to.

The area was also adjacent to an Iran airlines area.

This was all documented by the police at Heathrow at the time.

It had not been long since the Americans had shot on Iranian airliner out of the sky.

None of this came out at the trial of Mr Megrahi.

The strength of the argument is undeniable in my view.

Would the bomber(s) have gone to all the trouble of going via Malta and Frankfurt or just cut a hole in a fence?

There was also no evidence or explanation given as to the way Megrahi managed to get the explosives through security in Malta.

If the Heathrow break-in had been known at the trial would Mr Magrahi have been found guilty?

Even now as he prepares to depart this world a lot more slowly than the victims of the bomb on Flight 103 he still maintains his innocence.

Will we ever know the truth?

Dr Swire then went off to have a coffee while he waited to do some interviews at the BBC studios nearby and other live broadcasts.

Huw came over mildly jubilant at having found the problem with the talk back and had sorted it.

A few moments later the Police Sergeant from the Parliament came over to gently remind us that as from 8 o’clock we would not be able to park in the place we were.

We were able to say that our last broadcast would be at that time and we would quickly move giving her and her parking attendant colleagues no cause for concern.

That was of course until David Milliband the UK Foreign Secretary had spoken on the Today programme.

The office called to say that we needed to do an additional unplanned broadcast at 9am.

So as soon as Gloria had finished speaking we had to swiftly get the gear away and clear out, not as we hoped for a nice breakfast but to a new position at the side rather than the front of the Parliament building beside our gathering colleagues from STV, Sky and the BBC.

Huw winds in the cable before moving the truck.

Sky's James Mathews interviews Tavish Scott the  Scottish Lib' Dem' leader.

Gloria gets briefed on the 9 o'clock broadcast.

The BBC interview Dr Swire as Sky wait their turn.

The Trucks, GMTV, STV and The BBC.

The final reposition and broadcast worked without any problems the way the rest of the morning should have.

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