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, 26 June 2010

Cold Cold Cold and Bye Bye Ben

FrIday 25th June

The convoluted journey from Sandton to Pretoria took almost twice as long as we had expected.

The directions that Mark had been given did coincide with those of the iphone app.

This morning we were up against time when we arrived on location. Added to our late arrival was that we were not working with our colleagues from ITN so things would take a bit longer to organise.

We were working with a company called IHA from Turkey.

Their satellite trucks, which are usually fairly basic affairs are affectionately known as Kebab Vans.

They tend to pop up in most of the world’s trouble spots, largely I think because they pay scant regard to health and safety guidelines, common sense or any form of personal safety.

In Afghanistan, back in the days when the Americans were dumping enough ordinance on it to cause proper earthquakes and the Northern Alliance were in pitched battles with the Taliban in the north I saw a kebab van.

When the bombs were falling, taking out whole huge hillsides, tank shells were being lobbed into Taliban strong holds and the rattle of machine gun fire was a constant sound track to the day, there was a little white van waiting for the terminally brave or fatally foolhardy to broadcast from in front of the front line.

The Kebab Van and dish.

Dennis(strange name for a Turk), one of the IHA engineers grabs a quick kip between broadcasts.

This morning there was no danger of the guys being ripped apart by an RPG or peppered by rounds from an AK47.

There was however, the slight risk of chapped lips and numb fingers on top of red glowing ears and noses.

It was bitterly cold, a thin layer of white ice covered everything and the air was thick with stinging grey mist.

A pic I Tweeted showing Ben's hot breath in the cold Pretoria air.

We got ourselves set up as quickly as possible but missed the first little broadcast by, probably less than a minute.

Once again today we did not have a huge amount to do.

This was a bit of a shame because it was Ben’s last set of broadcasts from the World Cup in South Africa.

Richard and Nick were up in Rustenburg doing all the England team related stuff and the programme was doing a lot of stuff on the first anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson, not forgetting the start of the Glastonbury festival.

Another sunrise this time over the German camp.

We planned a bit of a pre-match penalty shoot out between the English and the Germans.

Luckily the guys from n-tv who were doing live broadcasts to Germany were happy to help.

The Germans broadcast in the cold.

It was a bit of fun.

Gerrit the n-tv reporter, Mark and Ben work out a game plan.

Like the early morning shadows, the talk was long.

They then wanted to do a little bit with us. So Ben appeared on live on German TV. His German is not a patch on his French so the short interview was done in English.

Role reversal stage one. Ben helps Gerrit with his talkback.

Stage two, being the interviewee.

No microphone envy? Gerrit's is bigger.

When we wrapped Enos, the taxi driver took us back the way which we were told was more direct than the way we came.

True, it was a straighter road but it did seem to take a similar amount of time.

That was it for the day.

In three and a half weeks Mark and I were about to have our first proper day off following a full night’s sleep.

In the late afternoon after a very leisurely late lunch we said good-bye to Ben.

It had been a great couple weeks or so working with him, not many presenters would have put up with the long hours, lack of sleep and constant pressure with such good humour and vitality.

The sun setting on Ben's trip to South Africa.

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