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, 10 August 2010

Accident or Murder?

Wednesday 4th

“Gas explosion kills three in Edinburgh.” popped up on my iPhone at 3 pm.

I put down my cup of freshly prepared cappuccino and mentally prepared to scramble to the location as I called the news desk at GMTV to check that the guys there were aware of the story.

They had not spotted it on the wires until I rang. A few keyboard clicks later the story, scant in any sort of detail was on the screen in front of the news editor.

There was no immediate interest so I did not need to dash to the scene.

I put my phone down and replaced it in my hand with my very slightly cooler coffee.

There was within me a slight feeling of frustration at not rushing out on a breaking news story. It had been a while since a quick reaction to a story had started the adrenaline pumping. It was going to be a while longer.

After my leisurely afternoon I returned home and was settling in to watch the early evening news programmes when my phone danced in vibrating excitement to an incoming blocked call. A sure sign of the office trying to get a hold of me.

The voice on the end once I had answered said, with a suitably apologetic tone, “Sorry, but we now need to react to the explosion story. Three kids are dead.”

I was glad that I do not live that far from the location. It would not take me long to get there.

When I arrived, as I expected the road was all cordoned off and there were small contingents of the press at either end of road block.

I quickly had a chat with the very nice people from STV who had been on the scene since about 3 pm.

They gave me the low-down on what they knew and the various rumours and speculation that were already starting to filter around the press pack.

The press get their shots of the flats and the police activity.

It certainly did not appear a simple case of a gas explosion as had been first thought.

There were no eyewitnesses to the actual small blast that had appeared to have blown out a couple of windows at the back of the modern flat.

I then ran around getting some general shots of the incident. There was not much to see as the flat in question was out of site of the main road and all other vantage points.

The scene from the bridge nearby.

I did a little interview with one of the only people that actually heard the bang.

She was good at describing the subsequent commotion of police, fire and ambulance but was unable to give any real account as to what had happened.

Police at the entrance to the flat's car park.

The mystery grew deeper when I spoke to a chap from a neighbouring flat.

He was not keen and could not be persuaded to go on camera which was a real shame because he had very interesting things to say.

A few moments after the bang he saw a woman on the balcony of the flat stand for quite a while and then jump off.

I had not been the only one of the national media not called out to cover the story until it was known that children were the victims.

Sky News and ITN in the form of Debi Edwards were screaming back from a story up near Elgin about cloned milk and meat being in the food chain.

Jonathan Swain one of GMTV’s remaining correspondents was winging his way up from London to do live broadcasts in the morning.

Once it was clear that there was no more information going to come out from the police until the morning I went home to grab a couple of hours sleep.

Thursday 5th

Dave had come down from Elgin rather more slowly with his satellite truck than Debbe who he had been working with yesterday.

After some negotiation with the police managing the now much smaller cordon he parked his truck.

The BBC and Dave's truck.

I sent the material that I had shot yesterday evening back to London.

Jonathan arrived in a taxi from his hotel.

The story of the dead children, who’s bodies were still in the flat as the forensic team did a thorough examination, was starting to get quite sinister.

There were even more rumours and half facts starting to come out that did not sound very good.

A lot of what was coming out would not be able to be broadcast for fear of legal action.

The story was horrific and horrid to contemplate. Tragic deaths of children is never an easy thing to cover.

The early morning sun shines on the flats.

Jonathan and I spent a lot of time talking about some of the unpleasant things that had been going on down in the offices of GMTV.

Any office is a rumour mill but when people arrive for work as usual and then just disappear talk and gossip is understandable.

The change from GMTV to Daybreak has not been without pain for some.

The on screen structure of the programme is changing very dramatically and also the internal one is being given a shake up.

The new bosses, like kids with a new toy box have tipped all the bits out, thrown some away without a second though, chewed the heads off a few others, demanded shiny new things and have started to put them back together in the hope that the remaining bits still work and fit the box.

Presenters have gone. Some reporters have gone. Producers and Editors have had their roles changed. Departments have been altered. New faces and names have appeared and are still appearing.

Daybreak starts on Monday the 6th of September.

It is going to be a very different beast the the animal that was GMTV.

Will it work? What about all the people that work there and those that used to work for GMTV?

Jonathan and I spent a lot af time talking about the various permutations and hoping, for the sake of our jobs that the new ITV breakfast programme, Daybreak, will not in fact break but work really well.

There was not a lot of space in front of the flats for the three main British broadcasters to do their live reports from. We were lucky that us, Sky News and The BBC were not doing our broadcasts at the same time.

The BBC do their live broadcasts.

From my point of view the reports were very simple to do. The lack of a sound recordist was not a problem. It was just Jonathan in front of the camera talking.

Once we were off air I took him to the airport to catch a flight back to London and the bubbling cauldron of GMTV as the potions are mixed to change it from slightly failing programme to ratings buster.

Later the mother of the two kids was charged with their murder.

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