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.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Gamu is in the building!

Wednesday 6th

I collected Gregg from Waverley station and embarked on what was beginning to feel like it would become a oft driven road through the roadwork's to the home of Gamu the X-Factor contestant rejected by Cheryl Cole.

When we arrive the small press pack that had been there on Monday had swelled a little to include more crews, more photographers and now satellite trucks.

The small pack outside Gamu's building.

The trio of TV crews, Sky News the BBC and us were back together so soon after our rather joint unproductive week just gone.

Gamu, her mum and two brothers were hold up in the modest flat in the slightly modern grey box building in an otherwise pretty little back street of Tillicoultry in Clackmannanshire.

As well as the press being there in a much larger number the locals were out in force both to gawp at the madness and support the popular little girl.

The Crowd lining the road.

The crowd was a strange mixture of kids taking the long way back to school after lunch, women out shopping, the scourge of the tories the long term unemployed and a bizarre few wearing dressing gowns and slippers in the middle of the afternoon.

I did a few shots of them and Gregg did some interviews.

Luck was on our side on this one. All the people that we interviewed knew Gamu pretty well and gave great little sound bites.

Radio Clyde interview one of Gamu's friends after we'd spoken to her.

One of the girls there with her mum told us that her sister, who was over in Glasgow at University took singing lessons with Gamu.

She would be home at around seven pm. Her mum called her to ask her if she would do an interview in the evening when she got home.

She said that she would be happy to help.

With that organised and other stuff in the can we went to grab a bite to eat to fuel up for what we though would turn into a very long day.

Very shortly after we arrived back outside the house having dinned in a nearby pub a pizza delivery guy arrived and produced lots and lots of boxes of pizzas.

Instinctively the pack acted as one and snappers snapped as cameramen recorded. It was a strange scene. This poor delivery guy and his pile of pizzas suddenly became the centre of voracious cameras.

We were all wondering who all these big pizzas could be for.

The answer came as a bit of a shock from the bewildered delivery guy.

They were for us, the massed media.

Pity we’d just eaten they looked good.

Someone from Domino’s Pizzas with an eye on good PR had sent them up for us.

If the amount of footage and photographs taken were turned into coverage it had been a good move.

The Pizzas are pounced on...

....and gobbled up.

Although it would not appear in our report it might turn up in the papers but, possibly contained to the diary pages.

We all settled down to what we knew would be a long wait to film not very much.

Rumours that we were all pretty sure to be false were circulating that Cheryl and Simon were going to come up to pay Gamu a visit.

Given some of the coverage in the papers over the last couple of days it might be distantly conceivable that Cheryl had some atoning to do.

It must be a bit scary when a television programme illicit such a reaction that leads to death threats.

The afternoon wore on with no change in the situation. Only now the crowd had become so large that the police had to block off the road.

The Crowd is still there and getting bigger.

The schools were finished so now there were dozens of kids running around clambering over walls, trampling on flowers and generally being a nuisance.

Gregg finds a quiet spot and calls the newsdesk

Ronnie the Sky News cameraman, Alan the ITN cameraman and I were standing chatting, about iPhones probably, when a well dressed girl with stunning blue eyes came over to us.

We immediately focused our attention on her.

She was a student from Glasgow Metropolitan College studying journalism and had come over to see what was going on and ask a few questions.

We had been chatting for a little while giving her our collective wisdom about journalism and TV in particular. Incredibly she had not yawned or made an excuse to leave.

Alan’s phone rang.

The tape with his pictures was needed back in Glasgow.

Suddenly this girl had been given a job.

She had a car with her and was only too happy to take the tape to STV.

I hope that she managed to get a bit of a tour of the newsroom in exchange for being a courier.

With that little bit of excitement over we once again settled down for more meaningless speculation and hanging around.

Then I saw a big guy in a black jacket striding purposefully through the now thinning crowd with a policeman heading towards where the road was blocked.

I was not the only one who had spotted this guy who stood out quite clearly as a minder or security.

Suddenly like the pied piper he had a mildly hysteric crowd in tow.

We all looked at each other.

No, it could not be.

We put our cameras on our shoulders and headed to the end of the road.

The minder was walking beside a silver taxi with blacked out windows that was edging through the excited crowd.

My first instinct was to head to the car but I had another thought.

The best place to get a clean shot of whoever was in the car would be when they came along the pavement to go in to the gate.

So I headed there.

The few police that were around went into crowd control mode.

There was a lot of pushing and shoving.

Who was in the car?

The tension and excitement was feverish.

The car door opened, a brunette head appeared amidst the mass and a loud cheer rang out.

It very quickly faded when the owner of the hair turned out to be an attractive girl around the same age as Cheryl but more of a TV producer/media type.

She was ushered in through the gate and up to the flat followed shortly later by a small overnight suitcase.

Now the speculation went stratospheric.

What was going on?

Who was this woman?

Where was she from?

Would she be bringing Gamu out to take her away to a swish hotel until the dust settled?

The spread out press pack now became an impenetrable mass around the gate to the flats.

There was no other way out unless you were SAS trained in abseiling and climbing and a master of disguise.

It might be a long wait until something happened but we would not be moving.

This movement in the story had come at almost a perfect time for Sky News who were about to go live and the BBC who in the form of James Cook would also be live shortly.

James Mathews and Cameraman Dougie about to go live for Sky News.

Only Jazz the BBC cameraman was not quite so happy because before the explosion of excitement and activity he had expressed the need to go and lose some liquid.

His pained expression combined with a bit of squirming and wriggling brought out our sensitive and sympathetic side.

We laughed.

Sometimes it pays not to drink to much on these stake out type jobs.

Luckily there was another BBC colleague who stepped in and held his position in the static scrum to let him go and find a place to empty his stretched bladder.

As with these situations things relaxed a little bit when there was no immediate sign of anything happening.

The time was fast approaching when we needed to go off and do the interview that Gregg had set up.

We arranged for Alan to cover any action that might happen when we went off.

At home after Uni’ Stephanie gave us a really good interview once again telling us how wonderful Gamu is as a singer and a person.

We had all we needed for another nice little report so it was off to feed from Glasgow again.

Like Monday night I thought that the pictures and sound seemed out of sync but no one in London noticed.

When I was given the clear that all the material was in the Daybreak system we headed back to Edinburgh.

Alan had nothing to report and the bulk of the pack had gone home for the night.

The clock ticked into the Thursday when we both got home.

I was lucky. I got a full night’s sleep.

Gregg on the other hand was not quite so lucky.

He was called at three thirty and asked to record some more voice over at home and send it to London on the internet.

With the usual problems with the Avid to wrestle with he got it all done and was back in bed after another frustrating four hours.

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