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, 23 June 2010

Make or Break for England in Port Elizabeth

Wednesday 23rd June

When we were on our way to the location on Port Elizabeth's sea front Colin in the satellite truck called to say that there were a number of rather suspicious characters hanging around and he felt that it might be a bit risky for him to start rigging the expensive kit.

What was at the back of his mind was that the crime rate in PE is high even for South Africa, there are places along the sea front that the security risk assessment guys had designated as no go areas.

There were also a couple of recent incidents that had heightened our awareness of security issues.

A few days ago a diplomat from another African country had been gunned down in one of the very upmarket areas of Johannesburg and only a day ago a BBC crew had been mugged at gun point in a similar sort of chic place.

When we arrived only a few moments later we decided that there was no real threat but Colin had been right not to be doing anything on his own when it was still dark.

There was another awesome African morning sky to welcome the day.

Before the sun comes up over the pier in Port Elizabeth.

Beautiful when it does.

For the first time since we arrived on African soil there were the hoards of England supporters turning up to give it up for the boys in red.

The first signs of the English invasion, flags in the morning sun.

They were all very good natured with no sign of the horrible yobbish behaviour that taints the real football fan.

The crowd gathers.

We had more fans with us than at any other time and they were a pleasure to deal with.

In the absence of football stars any star will do.

We may have had more fans this morning but we did less broadcasting with them than on previous programmes.

The big advantage was that we were near a cafe!

A beautiful sight, the coffee arrives!

They're there again. The Four Fabios.

Ben is a big shout on Twitter. In the last couple of days he managed a conversion job on me.

So I threw out a few tweets just before we went on air.

It ‘s great fun and really immediate.

Some of the first Twitter pics. Who is that mad masked man?

Another quick pic on Twitter with 2 minutes to go before we are on air.

All the broadcasts went well.

The only thing that we were disappointed with was that I had managed to get some shots of Stuart Pearce who had been out for an early morning jog, but this along with the shots I got of a pod of dolphins frolicking just off shore did not make air.

The BBC get in on the act.

Ben thinking about today's game?

At breakfast we were joined once again by GMTV’s chief correspondent Richard Gaisford and cameraman Nick.

They had been inside the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium here in Port Elizabeth also doing live broadcasts.

They did not have fans but they did have riot police practising in case a riot situation crops up.

Then we made our way to the stadium. Michael our driver got us nice and close, and there in plenty of time.

At that point he was the only one that we had organised to have a ticket for the game. The rest of us were in the usual position of having to wait to see what media tickets were available.

Michael’s ticket was not a media ticket, they are blue, his was a sandy coloured normal ticket.

He went off to the his seat in the stand somewhere on the other side of the stadium.

We went off to see the host broadcaster to see if we could get tickets.

ITV Sport did not have the rights to this game, it was a BBC one. So there were no tickets coming from our ITV colleagues.

The BBC set up outside the stadium.

We did get tickets and once we had eaten a very good Portuguese meal we took our seats in the magnificent stadium.

This was the do or die game for England.

They were up for it and it was a proper game of football, one worth the ticket price if you were an England fan.

The boys tried a bit harder this time....... both ends of the pitch.

Happy with the goal then Ben?

They had done it. The one nil win against the Slovenians putting them through to the next round.

So were off to Bloomfontein and not on the flight home to see our much missed families, except for Ben. He will be winging his way home on Friday.

The busy boy is off on another long haul flight a few days later.

When we met up with Michael, who is much more a fan of rugby than football, we asked what he thought.

He told us that he had enjoyed the game and the atmosphere particularly because there were not so many vuvuzelas buzzing in the crowd.

He did say that he had a bit of trouble getting past security at the entrance.

When he went to go into the stadium he had been pulled up by a policeman and searched.

He had forgotten that he had a knife in his pocket.

It was taken from him and held in an office until he was leaving.

He showed it to us. Back home he would have been locked up for a long time just for carrying the rather menacing sharp lock knife.

At least he wasn’t carrying his Glock 9mm pistol!

He told us the story when he was driving Ben Mark and me back to our hotel, and Nick and Richard to the airport.

The pair of them were going to have a nice almost sleepless night.

They had to catch a two hour flight to Johannesburg and then get to Rustenburg, another almost three hours drive north from there to arrive in time to do live broadcasts in the morning.

When the three of us went to bed there was the possibility that we would not be needed to do any broadcasts.

I certainly could do with a bit more time in bed.


  1. I get so sad when I see comments / quotes like this one: "What was at the back of his mind was that the crime rate in PE is high even for South Africa, there are places along the sea front that the security risk assessment guys had designated as no go areas."
    Port Elizabeth's crime rate is actually lower than the other big centres in South Africa and the security risk guys must have been smoking something if they designated places along the main beachfront as no go areas. It is because of these kind of comments that South Africa's has such a bad image. On the good side I have to compliment the international media about the positive image they are portraying SA in now that the event is on compared to everything that was said beforehand.

  2. I presume you were setting up on Hobie Beach at Shark Rock Pier - this is definitely NOT one of the NO GO areas.

    But, as they say; "Africa is not for Sissies!"


    Have an awesome time in SA and make some time to come back and explore Port Elizabeth.