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.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Live Broadcast at Shamwari Game Reserve

Tuesday 10th November

We had to drive for forty five minutes across part of the massive game reserve that is Shamwari.

Our three quarter of an hour journey to work was far from the normal daily commute.

In the middle distance as we trundled along we spotted a journey of giraffes running at full tilt.

The little baby at the back was literally running for it’s life. There was a pride of lions on it’s tail.

The lionesses were doing all the chasing whilst a large male watched from a distance.

It was an incredible sight but not one we could linger and watch because we needed to get to the live location.

Near the end of the drive we saw another lion pride. They must have done their dashing about bit and been successful because they were all laying around right next to the road enjoying the cool of the morning.

Emma Crosby in Costume Discussion.

At the location the generator needed to power the satellite truck shattered the still calm of the African morning. 

Tom Fuels the Noisy Generator.

A couple of lions that donations from GMT viewers had help to rescue from a miserable life in Romania were to be the main feature of the broadcasts.

As well as Sania and Marina the two magnificent beasts we a school choir and Marimba band were going to join us.

The first thing I had to do was feed the material that I had forgotten to feed to London in the stress of last night.

Above the high ground over looking our position a little red helicopter buzzed around, darting to and fro behind the hills.

Inside were the pilot and John the Ecologist from Shamwari. He was armed with a rifle loaded with a pretty high dosed tranquilliser dart, enough to knock out a rhino.

They were looking for a black rhino that was running around in a bit of a bad mood causing one or two problems. One of the things it was doing was trying to kill other rhino.

I rather hoped that it was one animal we would not encounter this morning.

There's an Angry Rhino Down There Somewhere!

Born Free Land Rover and African Satellite Truck.

Tom, the satellite engineer had sorted out the problem we had last night and his part of the morning went off without a hitch.

In fact there was remarkably little stress from our point of view. All the technical things worked as they should, giving us no cause for concern.

The only thing that gave Simon a bit of stress was that the talkback from the studio in London was not very good quality.

Given that we  were in the middle of the African bush and the talkback was coming over a mobile phone it was pretty good.

Simon Rigging the Talkback in the Shade.

Yes it is Working Simon!

Abigail Makes Sure the Hospitality Extends as far as the Bush.

Simon Wires up Emma's Talkback as the Producers Pace.

The Born Free Land Rover........

.....With Emma at the Wheel.

The band on the other hand had their fare share anxiety. They turned up a few moments before we went on air.

They were full of apologies but the fact they got there at all was pretty good.

They were driving along one of the tracks that passes for a road in this part of Africa. 

Slowly bouncing round a tight bend a farmer who uses the road often came belting round the blind corner the other way and thwacked into them.

In the honoured tradition of the show must go on they managed to nurse their car to us.

The Band Arriving After an Eventful Journey.

The Guys from Shamwari Quickly Set up the Bands Marimbas.

Emma, Ian and Michelle Have a Production Meeting.

After the Broascasts the Band are a Bit More Relaxed.

After the first broadcast of the morning in the few moments of calm before we started moving cables and getting set up for the next we could hear the beautiful sound of children singing in the Education Centre.

They were letting Michelle and Ian the producers hear the song they were going to sing for us.

When they came out to join in the fun they looked great in their very neat dark blue uniforms. It was pretty hot even at that time in the morning but they were all wearing jumpers over their shirts.

Each of the girls was clutching either a yellow or red rose and along with the boys had wide beaming smiles.

It was a joy to hear their happy singing and see that they were enjoying it while we rehearsed the broadcast.

I was very keen to start the broadcast showing the magnificent vista that was spread before us and the bright sun breaking through the wispy clouds.

Combined with the music from the choir and the band it would be very evocative.

Presenter Emma Crosby would not speak for a little moment to let the viewers take in the sights and sounds.

Separately the producers, Emma and I told London what we were doing and how the shot would start. 

However, the information must not have been given to the presenters on the sofa and Penny Smith linked straight to Emma expecting her to speak immediately.

I am not sure if the viewers would notice but it felt not quite right to me.

The main part of the broadcast worked well with the kids looking and sounding happy and enthusiastic.

The School Choir Giving us the Full Song and Dance Routine.

The final broadcast was Emma feeding the two lions. Not exactly letting them take a morsel out of her hand but leaving a huge chunk of meat in their enclosure and getting out before they were released to come and get them.

Just before the actual broadcast there was to be a little tease which would only last 10 seconds or so.

Emma had not heard her cue over talkback or seen my frantic waving visual cue.

By the time she had realised the gallery had cut to us and then cut away again.

Emma asked if it had looked bad. Zoe, the programme editor in the gallery said yes.

She was still upset about it when we were getting ready to do the main broadcast a moment or so later.

Emma Crosby with a Light Snack for a Lion.

That all went to plan and the  lions came out right on cue.

The only thing was that one of them got to the meat first and even although the two bits were placed a fair distance apart she grabbed both chunks and quickly started tearing them to bits with her huge teeth.

Greedy Sarnia Devouring both Bits of Beef.

After the broadcasts we had to get back to the airport at Port Elizabeth very quickly to catch the flight back to Cape Town.

We were hoping that the Cape Town weather had improved at least a little to allow us to do a bit more shooting.

At least our professional half was hoping that would be the case but our personal half was hoping that the weather would be dreadful and allow us to get some rest and sleep rather than run around getting hot, sticky and more knackered in the hot sun.

When we were coming in to land at Cape Town International one half of us was very happy indeed.

There was so much grey outside the aircraft as it descended the chance of seeing any sun was more remote than winning the biggest lottery rollover in history and being struck by lightning at the cheque presentation.

So it was straight to the hotel and after a twelve hour day we had what passes for an early finish on a GMTV shoot.

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