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, 11 February 2010

Fuel Poverty and Bye Bye Tyne Tees

Thursday 11th February

I had a great night’s sleep and with the sun still shining I was looking forward to a nice pleasant drive up the M6.

That was all I had to do. There were no plans apart from me getting home.

That was until I heard Carol’s voice. I knew then that there was something for me to do that would delay my homecoming.

I had to shlep from Manchester up and across to Newcastle Upon Tyne to do a story about fuel poverty.

This was going to be a real one man band job. There would be no reporter or producer there. It would be down to me.

At single mum Michelle's house in an estate in Walker, one of Newcastle’s well know areas I did a little interview with her about the amount of money she must spend on her gas each week.

Out of a weekly benefit income of a bit more that £200 she has to spend £40-£45 just on gas for heating and cooking.

I set the camera up so that I could see the little monitor that is on the left hand side of the camera and stuck an earpiece in my right ear to monitor the sound.

I got it all focused and framed and off we went.

I was glad that she was not the kind of person that moved about during the chat because if she had been it would have been a nightmare with the camera locked off.

Half way through the interview two of Michelle’s girls arrived home from school in the characteristic fashion, all noisy excitement.

After the interview I did a few shots of Michelle cooking the kid’s meal and her playing with them.

Michelle set up for her Interview.

Once that was done I made arrangements to get the tape fed to GMTV from Tyne Tees over the river in Gateshead.

On my way there I had a poignant moment when, in the fading light I passed the old Tyne Tees building in City Road. I should say what is left of it.

What was many years ago the shiny metal exterior of the new part of the studio complex was partially demolished.

The only thing that still stands is the tall circular tower that was used to house dishes that received pictures from outside broadcasts from the race courses and football grounds in the region.

On my journey in on the train from Edinburgh it was my marker and always brought a smile to my face.

The Transmission Tower now Minus the Tyne Tees Logo.

The largest of the studios was ripped wide open revealing the large space that was once the home to programmes that in the 1980s I fondly remember working on.

“Friday Live”, the lively local discussion programme hosted by Chris Kelly and Gillian Reynolds that welcomed the weekend after “News at Ten”, “Razzmatazz” the children's pop programme that had all the pop stars of the day performing for an audience of hyped up kids, and of course the first television programme to combine live television with live music and was Channel 4’s first flagship show, “The Tube”, amongst others came to mind.

A Final Look at Studio 5, the Lighting Grid still there High Above the Studio Floor.

Even without the benefit of rose tinted specs or a candy coated memory those were great days.

The people that I worked with at City Road did it all with pride and passion. There was a tangible sense of commitment to the various skills and arts that go into making good television.

From the board room members down to the guys that manned the car park barrier there were characters and personalities that are hard to find in these much more market driven corporate entities.

The Tyne Tees name Hidden and soon to be Gone Completely.

Although the Tyne Tees operation moved away to the modern call centre like building, in an industrial estate near the Metro Centre a few years ago, the sight of part of the old building being torn apart and the rest shrouded in netting ready to have its heart ripped out had my eyes moist and brought a lump to my throat.

I felt a real sadness for the times past, the good ones and the bad. Memories of the many highly skilled and motivated friends and colleagues that were forced out of the industry over the past years flooded my mind.

I was struck at how it affected me. I left Tyne Tees almost twenty years ago. I had only been there for nine, albeit formative years.

It is only now that I have an inkling what, in my days at City Road the miners felt when the pits started to close one after the other.

No wonder they fought to keep them open. I felt the way I felt with a gap of nearing two decades and a time there of a mere nine years.

The miners had generations down the pit and were facing an immediate uncertain future.

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