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.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Boris and Benefits.

Monday 5th October

In the bright afternoon sunlight Ravi the producer and I set about the story of the day.

The Lisbon treaty and Europe was at the top of the media agenda for the day.

That big bumbling buffoon like bear Boris Johnston had come to dance in the conference limelight in the place he probably thought only existed in John Osborne plays, the north.

We was mouthing off about a referendum and how if he’s done wonderful things in London there’s no reason that David Cameron can’t do the same in the rest of the country.

I think we were the only media not chasing a sound bite with the sharp operator hidden in a cuddly colonel Blimp disguise.

Busy Boris.........

......and Busy GMTV!

We did various vox pops and then did some filming with three typical Tory ladies.

These were three prospective parliamentary candidates.

Producer Ravi knew exactly what he wanted so it did not take too long to get the shooting done.

I left Ravi with the material to edit and I went off to revisit one of the least salubrious parts of the world.

When I met Jonathan Swain at the infamous Falinge estate in Rochdale there was around an hour of light left.

We did not really want to be there at all and certainly not after dark.

The Light Fades on the Grim Grey Falinge Estate.

It is a very unpredictable place to be in. There is a huge element of the residents that are on drugs.

White Storm cider at just over £1 for a litre is the local tipple. Many of the people we saw were either glugging it down or carrying a bottle or two.

The brief we had was to do a piece about the various plans to reduce benefits.

We planned to work as quickly as possible and try not to have to venture too far into the small but volatile area.

We struck lucky. I had just taken the camera out of the car when we saw a woman come out of a house with a large German Shepherd dog on a lead.

Jonathan asked if she would talk to us. She agreed and gave us a couple of ideal sound bites.

The only thing was that although her well voiced opinions were valid and very broadcastable she was not on any benefits.

We needed someone on benefit.

I shot a couple of pieces to camera with Jonathan.

There were a few groups of guys in wearing hoodies and baseball caps.

To be fair they were not all wearing hoodies and baseball caps. Some had very short dyed hair combed down on their foreheads to form jagged spikes.

They didn't do any more than walk past us.

At Least These Windows Have Curtains.

We walked round the outside of the estate hoping to see a likely interviewee.

We got one.

A thin faced man was at his front door watching his pet dog, some kind of bull terrier noisily play fight with a puppy.

Jonathan went over to the gate and started to chat to the guy.

I rolled the camera and started to record. Jonathan held the radio mic.

I was trying to keep the interview as a two shot with both the man and Jonathan in shot.

It was proving a little difficult because he kept getting closer towards Jonathan and then backing off nervously.

His eyes were flitting from side to side, never staying steady.

I could see he was certainly on some substance or other.

His twitchiness and constant scanning was making me feel slightly uneasy because I could not see what he was looking for or looking at.

What I did see was just out of shot one of his neighbours run into the house with his face covered.

This could be the start of something I thought.

There was also now a small but surprisingly quiet group of kids and teenagers watching us.

The door of the neighbouring house burst open and out tumbled two guys and a woman waving the ubiquitous plastic cider bottles.

They asked in drunken yells what we were doing and where we were from.

They then requested that they should be filmed shouting and pulling faces at the camera at the same time as saying that they did not want to be on telly.

I pointed the camera at them.

They jumped, jeered and made rude gestures.

I took the camera off my shoulder and smiled at them.

They were still cavorting around as Jonathan and I said thank you and retreated to the sanity of my car.

We got what we needed for the piece.

This time, unlike the last twice we were there we were not told to leave or threatened with various forms of unpleasantness.

It was nice for our bottoms not to be suggested as a places to put various pieces of television equipment or indeed the entire GMTV company.

Not and Area to Venture into After Dark.

I headed back to Manchester and Jonathan went off to prepare for a live bungee jump he'd be doing in the morning.

Whilst I was having fun in Rochdale Ravi the producer was enjoying the fun and frolics of getting material edited away from base.

He had quickly and efficiently edited the stuff I had recorded earlier.

Then he experienced the frustrations of the simple task of getting the finished piece back out of the laptop and onto tape so that it could be sent to GMTV in London.

He had my sympathy. Been there (often).

It took him three hours to get all the electronic machines to do as they had been designed to do.

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