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.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Off to SUNNY Cape Town South Africa!

Thursday 5th November and Friday 6th November

“Will you get that all on one trolley?”, the taxi driver asked as he helped unload my bags at Edinburgh airport.

“Oh yes it is a practised art.”, I replied with a hint of smugness.

I started to load up the baggage trolley in my way. I had only one light box to put on top to complete the precarious tower. I was picking it up when out of the corner of my eye I saw the almost full trolley slide ever so slowly off the kerb.

The five bags and boxes that were already stacked on it cascaded on to the road. Each one of them just missed another taxi that had pulled up.

My prior smugness was eroded by the more obvious red of embarrassment. This of course was made worse by the help given by the passengers getting out of the taxi that I had almost battered with my boxes.

Not content with tipping the kit all over the place once in front of an audience of amused onlookers I managed to do it again.

This time I blame the blind and the bobble things on the pavement to let them know where to cross.

I was rather gingerly trying to ease the trolley over the braille sign post when it got stuck and needed a bit more help. 

I pushed a little bit harder. It was not hard enough to get the whole thing moving but hard enough to tip the stubborn thing up.

Once again a few sniggering fellow passengers came to my aid and helped me get the bits on again.

Thankfully the rest of the journey to Terminal 3 was uneventful.

The Packed Trolley!!

At the Virgin Holiday ticket desk a very helpful girl in the bright red uniform of Virgin got me checked in for the flight to Cape Town, organised the excess baggage and gave me some good news quickly followed by bad.

The good news was that we would be allowed into the Virgin Clubhouse even although we were booked economy and that if there was any space either in Premium Economy or Upper Class we would get upgraded.

The bad news was that both Premier and Upper were already fully booked.

Customs dealt with the dreaded carnet very quickly  so it was with anticipation that Simon and I went to the very trendy and luxurious Virgin Clubhouse.

The rest of the production crew and Emma Crosby the GMTV presenter met Simon the sound recordist and me  shortly afterwards.

We had plenty of time to wait for the flight to enjoy the facilities. I even manage to get a very good haircut. 

We were sitting chatting and soaking up the opulent ambience when another GMTV presenter appeared.

Mark Hayes GMTV’s style and fashion expert was off for a well earned holiday to Dubai.

That was where the luxury ended for me, Simon and Ian the producer.

Emma turned left when we boarded because she had already been booked Upper Class. Michelle and Jack the other producers were stopped when they handed their boarding cards over and assigned different bigger seats nearer the front.

The three of us were guided to the very back of the plane in the midst of a huge group of Irish folk off to help build houses in the townships of Cape Town.

All around us the Irish chattered and laughed. A couple in front of us tried to sort out their crying baby.

It was going to be a long flight.

However, the drama did not come from excitable gaels or screaming infants. Ian, sitting on his own on the opposite side of the plane from us was at the centre of it all. He managed to catch a lady that suddenly collapsed.

Not only did she keel over but very quickly started to shake uncontrollably and turn a strange purple colour.

The Virgin cabin staff were quickly dashing around with oxygen cylinders, portable defibrillators and asking if there was a doctor on board. 

Somehow there always seems to be one on long hall flights.

Whatever the problem was it was diagnosed and under control quite quickly. The lady spent the rest of the flight being closely monitored by the cabin staff.

We arrived in Cape Town twelve hours after taking off from Heathrow at around 9 pm. 

None of us had been able to get much sleep, particularly the three of us crammed in the back.

Immigration and customs was cleared quickly and efficiently.

We had our first deadline to meet. The GMTV promotions department wanted a short piece to camera with Emma sent over to London by 3:30 pm local time, 1:30 UK time.

It would be tight but possible given the logistics of getting to the hotel, getting the kit sorted out, getting to the location, getting the shots done and getting the rushes to the feed point.

The first glitch came when we got to out hotel in the centre of Cape Town.

The hotel had been chosen because it had been the only one out of all the ones that had been looked at that would guarantee to allow us to check in early.

When we arrived tiered and slightly spaced out and in need of a wake up shower the rooms were not ready.

There was a bit of frank negotiation done. 

It took a little while but rooms became available.

The second glitch was a combination of being in an unknown location and a timing mixup.

Waiting for the rooms.

Jack doing some hard negotiating with the Duty Manager!

We got the shots and piece to camera done on the famous Cape Town Waterfront with the spectacular Table Mountain in the background.

Ian the Producer and Emma  Discuss the Script for the Promo.

Emma Does the Model thing for Jack and the GMTV Website.

Typical Snapper there's Always "Just One More!"

Michelle then had to dash with Oliver our driver to the offices of APTN to send the material to GMTV in London. The three thirty deadline was fast approaching. 

Michelle’s phone rang as she and Owen were getting close to the media area of Cape Town where the APTN offices are housed. “Where was she?”

Michelle was surprised at the tone of panic in the call because according to her watch it was just after quarter past and the place was only five minutes away.

The voice on the other end of the phone told her that the feed had been booked from 3:15 until 3:30.

Owen arrived at the address to find that there were lots and lots of media companies in the same place.

Michelle ran around looking for APTN.

Breathless and sweaty she got there. The guys were looking out for her and ushered her through to the playout machine.

Out of the six minutes that I had shot it was only the one 17 second piece to camera that made it to the nerve centre of GMTV before the line between Cape Town and London was cut.

Whilst Michelle was having her personal bit of stress the rest of us were getting our first bit of decent food since our inflight dinner at 10 pm last night.

By the time Michelle got back to us we had to leave straight away to go and get some helicopter shots of various parts of Cape Town, mainly the massive stadium being built for next year’s football World Cup here in South Africa.

We did not have time to hang around because the weather was deteriorating and if we did not go immediately there was a chance the aircraft would be grounded.

Poor Michelle had to grab a bite on the go.

Michelle Digs Deep to Pay for a bit of Fast Food.

At the heliport I wished we were going up in an iconic American Huey. There is one based in Cape Town for pleasure flights and it is complete with US Army camouflage and markings.

We heard its characteristic rotor noise when we were preparing to go up in our Long Ranger.

That's the One We Wanted to go in.

Emma Enjoying the sites at 2000 feet

The weather was not great. Grey skies made the light on the ground flat and featureless and there was on sign of the beautiful blue sky that makes Cape Town and Table Mountain such special places.

I was shooting through a sliding window. Ideally the door would have been taken off and I would have been sitting in the gap but the worsening weather conditions meant it would not be possible.

So was I.

On the short flight I got shots of the stadium in relation to the mountain and the sea. Even given the less than ideal conditions it still looked spectacular.

Less inviting were the shots of the deserted beaches at Clifton and Camps Bay that were being whipped by the rising winds.

At least a few hardy surfers were taking advantage of the conditions.

Now not only was the sky very grey but the light was starting to go a little and we still needed to get shots of Emma out and about either in Cape Town or round the corner in Camps Bay.

Owen whisked us round to the wind swept playground for the South African wealthy set.

I did a few shots of Emma walking around and enjoying the Camps Bay lifestyle. 

Normally that would have been really easy but today I had to try and avoid filming most of the other people that were wandering around or sitting eating and drinking because they were wrapped up against the uncommon cold snap in thick jumpers and fleeces.

I did manage it. 

Thirty hours or so since we had seen a bed last we called it a wrap and went to eat and sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Great article. I run South Africa Travel Online and am always looking for something a little different to the normal tourist thing to showcase to our readers. Each week we choose a blog of the week and this week you're the winner :) This means you're also in the running for blog of the month. We've linked to this post from (the bottom of) our weekly newsletter. Keep up the adventures.