Thursday 26th November
Another good news, bad news day.
The bad news. When I took my car in to the garage to get the wipers fixed and get it serviced George the service manager told me that I probably would not get it back until Wednesday.
The good news. He produced a very nice Mercedes Estate that the hire company had dropped off for me.
I had plenty of time to enjoy driving it.
I had no sooner jumped into it when the call came from Paul in the GMTV office.
Could I get to Bishop Auckland in County Durham to film with a little girl who wanted to be Jordan?
So I headed down the A1.
There was some big news breaking at GMTV that caused a lot of us some concern.
ITV, 75% owners of GMTV had bought the other 25% of the company from the Disney corporation.
As of today GMTV was no longer a separate entity. It was now part of ITV.
As with all take overs and mergers there are efficiencies to be made. A euphemism for redundancies.
We will have to wait and see what happens.
In the little estate near the centre of the little town I knocked on the door of the small semi detached house.
I was greeted by the smiling face of Marcella Whitingdale. She introduced me to the very pretty girl who had the ambition of emulating Jordan, or is it Katie Price?
Sophie and her mum Pauline were going down to London to be on the GMTV sofa in the morning.
Marcella and I had to film a little piece that would be played before they did a live interview with Andrew Castle and Emma Crosby.
We did not have much time to shoot because they had to catch a train and before they did that they were off to get a spray tan.
As quickly as I could I set up a couple of lights in the small lounge where a large plasma TV and an off white faux regency sideboard topped with a sizeable mirror fought for dominance of the room.
Marcella brought down a large red heart shaped cushion that we put on the sofa. Marcella and Sophie then sat sown and I filmed an interview with them.
One of Sophie’s main reasons for wanting to follow in the Katie Price / Jordan footsteps was that she was a good business woman and had her own range of hair straighteners.
I did a few more shots of the very attractive little girl having her hair curled by her mum, putting on make up and doing a bit of posing in the big mirror in the lounge and another large kitsch mirror at the top of the narrow stairs.
That was all we had time for.
I was glad that there was a bit of time pressure because on the way to Bishop Auckland I had been told that I would need to head back to the flood zone for another live broadcast in the morning.
Marcella was also going to be doing the broadcast. By this time it was nearing 6 pm and she had been up since 3 am. So she elected not to drive across the A66 until the morning and get her head down locally.
I would go over to Cockermouth and rendezvous with the satellite truck that was also on the way and use it to send the stuff I had shot back to London.
That was the plan.
There was one slight problem with that. The truck trundling up from the depths of Yorkshire was not carrying a machine to play the tape. So the playout would have to be done using my camera.
Thereby hung the problem.
After the shoot with the beautiful budding Jordan I had taken the tape with the rushes out of the camera and put a fresh tape into the camera.
The new tape was now jammed inside the recorder mechanism and would neither go right in and lace up or eject.
I was still in Sophie’s house. Sophie and her mum had rushed off to the tanning shop and Marcella was off to get some sleep.
There was only Sophie’s step dad, who’s job during the filming had been to keep their little Staffordshire Bull terrier from making a noise, left with me.
I did not want to over stay my welcome.
I shut the camera down stuck it in the car and drove through the never ending rain to Cockermouth.
As the sat nav guided me to the address of the hotel I had been booked into I was surprised to be getting closer and closer to the area that had been devastated by last Thursday night’s deluge.
When I got to the hotel and rang the bell to get in it took a while for the door to be answered.
I asked if I could check in.
The lady, who looked a little wind swept said that the hotel was closed and asked if I knew about the floods.
I said that I did and added that as far as I was aware I was booked into this hotel.
The lady introduced herself. Her name was Carol Anne and she was the owner of the place and there were absolutely no bookings at all.
There were a few phone calls between us and GMTV.
It appeared that a booking had been made at a hotel of the same name 40 or 50 miles away.
Although the hotel was closed Carol Anne was kind enough to say that she would be able to give Kevin the yet to arrive satellite engineer and me rooms but, there would be no food or bar available.
I went off to a restaurant nearby that was open to get some food and have a look at fixing the camera.
I saw a few of my fellow diners give me some strange looks as I took the camera to bits depositing screws and the like on the table in an attempt to free the tape.
I succeeded. I inserted and ejected the clean tape a few times. It was fine.
By the time I had done that and eaten Kevin was just about to arrive at the hotel car park.
He set his dish up and performed the black art that is getting on to the satellite.
Whilst he was doing that and talking technical with someone on the phone I ejected the tape and tried to insert the tape with the rushes on it.
The camera partially accepted it but then held on to it harder than a banker and his bonus.
I could hear the distant sound of the gremlins giggling as I once again had to pull the camera apart and fiddle with the tape transport mechanism to get the tape to load and lace up.
Eventually with very gentle persuasion the delicate assembly of levers, springs, cogs and wheels accepted the tape and I got it fed to GMTV in London.
I was not looking forward to less than 4 hours sleep as I got to bed sometime after midnight.