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.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Ben Shephard's Three Lions and ITN's Gremlins

Monday 14th June

The Sun City Palace Hotel has some mega spectacular places to shoot from.

Unfortunately none of those were accessable for our little satillite pickup truck and trailer and we did not have enough cable to get to any of them.

So our live position had to be outside the main entrance.

The Awesome Hotel at dawn.

The entrance bridge is equally spectacular.

Paul gets the dish rigged.

Mark tries to get on line but without success.

(Geek Warning) The dish transmitting.

Ben does a bit tweeting between broadcasts.

Ben and Mark check the scripts on the Blackberry.

Ben and Mark get information from GMTV in London.

I spotted a huge green beastie on the leaf of a spiky plant so I used it as a bit of foreground on one shot and Ben made reference to it in an "I'm a defender get me out of here" way alluding to the injury problems in the England team.

The foreground action.

Ben gives Loraine the horn........

....more than once!

We did do a few pre-recorded bits around the hotel, one with the housekeeping staff singing.

They were very good.

We needed to do some quick interviews wirh our new glitzy friends Lizzy and Eric.

The staff are up for it with Eric and Lizzy....

.....and Ben! They sang beautifully.

When our live morning's work was done it was time to feed the lions to Ben.

Shooting with Ben in the lion's den.....

.....cuddly and cute cubs but they still have the killer's instinct...

...Ben and the real three lions.

Feeding time.

There were other pieces to camera to shoot around the hotel and golf club.

There was some time to get some food.

Being in the most glamourous, swanky place in South Africa we thought we woud live it up.

I’m not sure if the Wimpy Bar was exactly what we had in mind, but it would have to do.

It is not all champagne and caviar.

All I needed to do now was feed the pictures back to London.

Those words again!

I went to the ITN satellite dish that was all set up for various ITV and Channel 4 news bulletins.

ITV News ready to go.

I knew that I'd have to wait until Steve Scott from ITV News had his report sent over to London an then did his live broadcast.

They hadn't been round for a while but they came for a little frolic in the ITN equipment.

The giglimg gremlins started teasing just before Steve went live by nicking little crumbs of the sound.

There was audio drop out that no one could fine the source of.

Then it was fine again.

Then they sneaked back another way and ran off with a big chunk of both sound and vision.

Just before the end of Steve's broadcast the satellite signal dropped out completely for a second or two at a vital time before the ITN Gallery came back to him for his final comment.

It came good very quickly but not fast enough for them not to come back to him for his short bit.

The good news was that the viewers would not have been aware that anything untoward had gone on.

However, with two unexplained technical glitches the gremins were in their element.

They took advantage of the weather for their next jolly jape, the one that saw me robbed of at least two hours precious much needed sleep.

As soon as ITV News was off the air I began to send the pictures that I had shot during the day over to GMTV in London.

A few moments after the process had started both the engineers Paul and Steve’s phones started ringing. Then mine joined in making a less than joyous symphony because we knew it heralded bad news.

The sniggering little beasts must have been having great time because they had pulled off a belter.

Whilst I was sending my footage to London Graham the Channel 4 cameraman was setting up to do a live broadcast into the Channel 4 News.

Giving no warning a couple of gusts of wind blasted out of the African night across the car park.

The sneakiest of the techie’s mortal enemies must have been riding in on it.

The first thing he did was to knock down one of the lights which tripped out the other one.

Apart from the lights going out there was no other obvious problem in the truck, as far as we could see.

It was a few moments after that when the phones started their mini concert.

ITN and GMTV in London had lost our signal.

All the indications from the various meters, displays and screens attached to the satellite transmission equipment was that everything was fine and working perfectly.

Steve talked to the ITN MCR in London and Paul gave NBC in the USA a call to see if the signal was getting to the first point after leaving the satellite.

There was a collective amount of head scratching all over the world now. Steve and Paul were at a loss, the guys in London offered a few suggestions and Washington had a momentary scratch but were a bit busy with other things to ponder too much on the problem.

Steve tries to locate the problem inside the workings of the dish.

So, with all good bits off techical kit even if it looks as if it is doing what it is supposed to do but actually isn’t then the only thing to do is start switching it off and on again.

Paul and Steve embarked on this highly skilled process.

The gremlins did manage to keep a hold of the situation almost until the end of the Ch 4 News but they relented right at the last moment.

As suddenly as it had gone off and without any reason anyone could see it was all working again.

The Channel 4 news did not have a four minute gap in its programme after all and the crew were very apreciative of the efforts Steve and Paul had made to get them on air.

The booking that GMTV had with ITN to take in my material had now expired.

The guys at ITN’s MCR were kind enough to take in the footage and would pass it on to GMTV when they got a chance and the booking came up.

So, once I saw that the material had left South Africa I went off to bed after another marathon day, this time a little shorter than some of the others, only 17 hours.

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