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, 2 October 2009

Quick and Easy = Long and Hard

Monday 28th September

Today a quick and easy job morphed into a long and hard one.

At lunch time I met John Stapleton and Caroline the producer to shoot a vt.

The Sun was holding a debate where Bob Ainsworth the Secretary of State for Defence would discuss the war in Afghanistan amongst other things.

We were there because on the panel and in the audience were mothers of soldiers either killed or seriously wounded and a former soldier who had been seriously wounded.

The Panel Ready for the Debate.

It was going to be a doddle for me. I was not allowed inside to shoot because the Sun would provide pictures and sound from the debate.

Caroline and John wandered in along with other journalists.

I prepared to settle down and watch the action from one of the screens outside the room.

Caroline dashed back out and came over to me saying that I would be allowed in.

I started to shoot when the mothers were giving the Secretary of State a little bit of a hard time.

The sparks and emotions were not as sharp and heated as we had expected. 

However, we did some interviews with the mums and the ex-special forces soldier.

We had a short break for lunch, Caroline and I then met up with Gloria to get some idea what the delegates wanted and expected from Gordon Brown’s speech tomorrow.

It did not take too long to do that because obviously there were plenty of people happy to talk and give us their opinions.

It was a nice stress free day and it was coming to an end. All that I needed to do was to get the material fed back to GMTV.

When I was making the call to get the feed organised I knew that I would have to wait for a little while because the stuff would be sent via ITN.

I knew that the chances were that they would be too busy until at least after the early evening news and perhaps until the end of the C4 news.

So when I did not hear from GMT about the time I would be able to sent the pictures back I wasn’t that bothered.

Particularly because there was a bit of good news.

A bigger room had been found for me.

It was then just a case of repacking all my gear and getting it along the rabbit warren of narrow corridors and up a dark rickety staircase. 

I pottered about organising my things waiting to hear when I could saunter up to the ITN playout facility and sent the rushes on their way.

Around 7pm the call that changed it all came.

I would not be able to feed as planned. The material would have to go back to London in the morning from our satellite truck before the live broadcasts.

Therefore the rushes would need to be cut down before sending as there would not be enough time to send all the material and have it edited in time to get on air.

Oh well another hour or so to get the rushes into the computer and then edit them. That would not be too bad.

That was of course until the TV gremlins came calling.

Firstly they managed to get the tape to stop playing in the machine.

Then they decided that it would be more fun if I was unable to eject the tape but had to take the machine to bits to get it out.

Once I had got that problem sorted and the tape was playing alright they then thought that it would be a great wheeze to tell the computer that all the input ports were busy and it might be better to try another day!!!

They also thought that it would keep me amused if the computer and the edit system played hide and seek with the video tape machine. 

So off the machine went and hid in the virtual electronic world.

I rebooted all the machines more times than a policeman having fun at a G20 protest.

I spoke to them, and the gremlins in fluent anglo saxon accompanied by the furious rhythm of stamping feet.

At last the material was in and ready to be cut down.

I called Caroline the producer to get a little guidance on which would be the relevant bits to send.

There was a slight delay in her reply.

At that point, around 9:30 I realised why I was feeling a bit peckish.

I hadn’t eaten since lunch time.

My dreams of a tasty steak with the rest of the crew withered and died.

They’d be on the last crumbs and thinking of bed because they’d be getting up at silly o’clock.

At least once I got this cut I could get a good night’s sleep.

The clock ticked on to echoed by the rumbling from my tum.

Eventually Caroline contacted me with news that I did not want to hear.

The only material that was needed were the vox pops about the upcoming speech and they could be sent in their entirety in the morning.


Not only did the material not need to have been put into the computer but it was now too late to give the tape to any of the morning crew as they would be in their beds in their trendy comfy hotel on the other side of Brighton.

I would have to get up early like them to take the tape to the truck to be sent to London.

Before I crashed out I wandered round the corner from my hotel to a little take away place and had a midnight feast of pizza.

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