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.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

She Really Didn't Know Anything About it!

Tuesday 9th March

Rose Thompson from Airdrie had been selected as one of the finalists for GMTV’s Britain’s Best Mum. The broadcast this morning was simply to go to her door and let her know that unknown to her she was one of the finalists.

On Thursday I had met daughter Kirsty, one of her sisters Beth and some of the grandchildren when I came through to Airdrie to do a little bit of filming as a preview to the surprise we were about to spring.

We had parked all our vehicles including the satellite truck around the corner from the house.

The Satellite Truck "Hidden" somewhere in Airdrie.

Robbie the engineer was busy getting the dish lined up whilst we talked talkback and got the camera and sound gear organised.

Away from the Technical Stress Presenter Jeff Brazier Writes his Script.

It was plain from the bits of conversation that I could hear Robbie having with Telenor that things were not going smoothly.

Something was being lost in translation. There is a big difference between “I am not seeing you” and “I am unable to see you”.

Robbie was told by a rather curt Frenchman that his signal was not being seen.

Robbie was confused because everything appeared to be working perfectly and the downlink was being seen by another company.

After much technical chat about vertical and horizontal polarisation, them being swapped around, and other satellite jargon flying through the ether it slowly became clear that Telenor could not see the signal for two reasons.

The first reason was that they had a problem with their kit, but rather more worryingly they had no knowledge of the booking.

It was now getting very close to the time of our first transmission which was a short tease.

There was then a gap of forty minutes before the main broadcast.

Mobile phones were ringing and conversations made between us, the technical director at GMTV and the producer in the gallery.

Given the stress level and the proximity to the live everyone remained calm, focused and got the job done albeit with a liberal amount of frustration.

It was coming together but not quickly enough for the fast approaching deadline for the tease.

We saw the time for that come and go.

Jeff gets all the Attention as he gets Briefed by Producer Sarah and Wired for Sound.

There were ten minutes to go before the main broadcast when I heard Doug, the technical director’s measured tones in my ear to say that he was seeing our pictures and hearing our sound.

During the time that we were dealing with the satellite situation the family members had turned up ready to join us in the surprise.

In a lane not far from Rose’s house we marshalled ourselves.

Presenter Jeff Brazier did a quick link in to the commercial break.

Out of the break we were ready for the off.

Jeff did a short introduction.

I showed the large family group complete with balloons, home made banners and excited faces.

Sophie, one of the grand children took Jeff’s hand and lead him to the door.

When he knocked on it there was a bit of a pause before Rose came to the door.

Sometimes the thought goes through your head that these things are not a real surprise. Perhaps the person getting the surprise has either an inkling, or even knows for sure that something is going to happen.

The look on Rose’s face, her loss of colour and the uncontrollable trembling dismissed those thoughts faster than a GMTV showbiz presenter can get rid of a hollywood A list movie star on the Oscar‘s red carpet.

As she watched the video that I had shot on Thursday she shook in disbelief. I would not have been surprised if she had keeled over with the emotion of it all.

Smiling broadly Robbie said, “When you see a reaction like that it makes all the stress worthwhile.”

Rose the Centre of the Family After the Broadcast.

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