Friday 16th March
There was no rigmarole this morning getting into the Granada car park.
John Stapleton had gone back to London on the train yesterday after the morning’s broadcasts so that he could be on the GMTV sofa in the studio for this morning’s programme.
Sue Jameson was dispatched to Manchester to report live on the post debate chat and analysis.
Last night’s live debate had been a first for British television and under normal circumstances would have warranted a huge amount of coverage and in-depth, probably excessive coverage.
However, today was not normal.
The normally busy skies over the UK were very very quiet thanks to a bit of dust spat out in Iceland.
It’s amazing how such a insignificant little country could have had such an impact on our much more important little country.
Not content with trying to snaffle much of Britain's cash in dodgy banking deals it now totally wipes out the air transport industry, for at least a day.
This of course put the volcanic dust story right at the top of the agenda.
Our compact GMTV team of Sue, Pete the sound recordist, Andy the satellite engineer and I got our selves set up for the first live broadcast at 6 am.
Our Truck, the Only one Working.
In the half light we did our thing laying cables, checking talkback and other techie things in a very relaxed manner.
In the middle of me fiddling around with the camera my phone rang.
It was Omar from a local taxi company to say that one of his cars was on its way to deliver a tape to us.
Rachel Harrison and cameraman Ian had been sent to Manchester airport to get some shots of stranded passengers and.
I wandered over to the car park barrier where a large laid back West Indian driver handed me a small tape containing the material.
He seemed rather confused that such a small bit of grey plastic needed to such careful and urgent attention.
He was even more bemused when he had to go straight back to collect another one from the busy pair at the airport.
I gave the tape to Andy and he ensured it burst through the invisible dust cloud high above us and got through to London.
Sue Ready to Broadcast.
We had two guests who had been at the last night’s debate turning up to participate in this morning’s fun.
Nick the guy from the TA who had asked a question about troops arrived just before we went on air.
Like us he had not had a great deal of sleep and got out of his bed specially for GMTV.
Sue was expecting to be able to interview him live just after six.
However, now there is no time to do live interviews during news bulletins.
So to allow the interview to be used, as soon as Sue had done her first short live broadcast she did an interview with Nick which was recorded in London to be used in later broadcasts.
A little while later as we stood on our little platform a figure came walking towards us wearing a grey suit and a blue lanyard round his neck with some sort of ID attached.
It was clear that he was heading purposefully in our direction.
“Ah!”, shouted Sue, “Are you the taxi driver?”
By this time the figure had advanced a bit closer.
The cut and quality of the suit and a small badge on one of the lapels told us that he most certainly was not a taxi driver.
“Special Branch,” I thought.
With no hint of annoyance and a pleasant smile he confirmed that he was indeed a police officer.
We were expecting a VIP to arrive at least he’d be a VIP until the 6th of May, then maybe not.
This policeman had arrived to check out who we were and at what time the VIP should arrive.
It was the current Home Secretary Alan Johnson.
After he had confirmed the details with Sue he went off saying he’d see us later.
There was another broadcast to do with Sue and as we prepared for that a flash black Jaguar and a couple of equally flash black BMWs wheeled into the car park.
The Jaguar, driven by a black haired lady contained Mr Johnson and and another lady carrying a large bag.
The BMWs disgorged more suited Special Branch officers.
The Home Secretary and his Entourage.
Once Sue had finished her broadcast she went over to the group and escorted them into the warmth of the Granada reception and the coffee machine.
There was a little time to wait before Mr Johnson was due to do his down the line interview with John Stapleton.
Sue emerged from the building. She came over to to the truck and asked Andy if the kettle on the truck was still working.
The coffee machine in the reception had decided not to work any more.
When the Home Secretary came over to be wired up for the interview Andy met him with a welcome cup of tea.
Good old Yorkshire Tea...in Lancashire!
Pete Wires the Home Secretary for Sound.
Cup in hand but minus his coat he stood in front of the camera and chatted to us about our ex-colleague Gloria De Piero.
She had left GMTV to be a Labour candidate in the fairly safe seat of Ashford in Nottinghamshire, Geoff Hoon’s old constituency.
Over talkback the silence of the commercial break was broken when John’s voice burst into our ears saying hello to Alan.
They had a brief chat about football and the way Manchester City was playing.
John then cut off as the programme went back on air.
A few moments after that John was slightly less convivial as he very lightly grilled Alan about how well he thought Gordon Brown had done in the debate last night.
in most people’s minds he had come out worst with Nick Clegg the clear winner.
Mr Johnson did a professional job of putting a positive spin on what the majority felt had been the poorest out of the three performances.
His assistant handed him his coat and he said his good-byes.
He would be seeing Gloria soon and said that he’d pass on our regards.
One of the other guests from the audience last night then joined us and we did another down the line interview with her being interviewed by Andrew Castle.
Our morning ended with a hearty breakfast in the Granada canteen before we headed off in our separate directions.