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.

Monday, 21 June 2010

French Team Strike and Ben's Goes Native with Cheethas

Sunday 20th June

We did not leave the hotel too early to get on the road from George to Knysna.

On the drive we stopped a few times to get some shots of the scenery and do a nice piece to camera with Ben on a beach.

It was at a place called Wilderness.

Wilderness. It's been a long time since train wheels rolled on these tracks.

It was one of those pieces that we did from two angles.

One I shot hand held close to Ben as we walked along the sand.

The other I shot from a very high viewpoint. When he got to a certain point in the script I did a zoom out from what was already a wide shot to a much wider shot.

A Kodak moment round every corner.

We got to Knysna and its very picturesque quayside area in the late afternoon.

We were very pleased that we found a location for tomorrow’s live broadcasts quite quickly.

It was not enough for Ben to have played with lions the other day. We needed to increase his cat quota.

So at the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre not that far from Knysna I shot Ben with a serval cat and a few cheetahs.

They were all beautiful animals with a touch of menace when you’re beside them.

Len, who runs the place was only too happy to help when we turned up almost at closing time with the sun going down and in a rush because we had another place to get to before we lost the light .

When Ben and I were in the enclosure with the larger pair of cheethas and one wandered behind me I was wondering if he was going to use us, or at least some of our limbs as appetisers.

I had been told that big, or even slightly big cats want to attack from the back because that's their preferred way to take down prey. They grab it by the scruff of the neck and pull it down.

So when Len said to both of us that we should stay still there was no way I was not going to do what I was told.

Two of Ben's new friends, young cheetahs.

Blade the serval gets friendly with Ben,.....

....up close and personal with my camera.....

...and eyes up my run bag.

There was one other thing we needed to do before we lost the light completely. We were either going to shoot at, or check out Knysna Elephant Park.

By the time we got there the big beasts were being put to bed for the night having done a days work.

So, it could be a live location for Tuesday. The guys there, like Len, were only too happy to see us and keen to welcome us back if we wanted to broadcast some of their elephants playing football.

Lots of fun to be had there at the England Team's expense. That's what they get for being rubbish up 'til now.

The big boys walk to bed.

We were thinking about how and when we would get the material back to London and whether I would edit the vt, my preferred option except I would not get to bed until pretty late.

On balance we were tending to think about getting a feed on the ITN satellite dish that would be in the area.

Then we got the call. The French team had thrown a Gaulic strop and gone on strike, refusing to train for their coach.

We were the nearest ITV team to the French camp.

The initial request was to see if Ben would mind doing a bit on the ITV evening news which was in one hours time.

The satellite truck would be there as soon as Mike and Dave could get it there.

It would be touch and go for Russ and Ben the other ITN crew to get to Knysna in time. So I was then asked to do the broadcast with Ben in case the boys didn’t make it.

I was happy to oblige.

We did the live broadcast from the French Media Centre which was a bit away from the French Team’s training camp in the posh Pezula resort.

Mike and Dave set up in record time.

The camera set up.

Ben in News mode.

After the broadcast Ben was grabbed by one French broadcast team and asked to do an interview, in French if possible.

He had a go. I was certainly impressed with his impeccable accent, whether the content was as good, only the French can decide. The reporter seemed happy enough.

Parlez vous Francais mon brave?

When that was done and Channel 4 had also done a broadcast when they arrived I was able to send our material to Christina, one of the producers in London.

We and Channel 4 got it done just in time before the lights were all switched off.

During all this news stuff we had the rumours that have been floating around for ages were confirmed, Christine Bleakley is to join Adrian Chiles on the GMTV sofa, or whatever it will be called come September.

I hope they like very early mornings and long days. I think that I might like them better if I was paid a fraction of what they will be taking home at the end of a month.

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