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, 26 May 2010

Sue's Toy for the Boys.

Tuesday 25th May

Under grey skies that were sending a light spray of rain Sue Jameson and I drove from York to Thirsk where we met up with the Lib Dem candidate for the election that would be taking place on Thursday.

This election was being run after the General Election because the Ukip candidate that was trying to be elected then had sadly died.

So along with Howard Keal the Lib Dem guy, who, much to my disappointment did not burst into any of the songs from “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, we would film with Jonathan Roberts the Labour candidate and a representative of Ann McIntosh.

We could not speak to Ann directly even although she was regarded as the favourite because she was dealing with a family problem.

No He's Not Singing "Bless Your Beautiful Hide".

Jonathan Didn't Sing Either.

There was a bit of confusion about what the election would be called.

Sue had come from London having done live reports on the State Opening of Parliament.

So as parliament will be sitting when the election is held is it a By-election or is it still part of the General Election because it should have been held then?

There was much discussion about what to call it before Sue could record her voice over.

Sue gets Details of were to meet the Tories.

We also needed to get the views of the people of the widespread constituency about how they felt voting when the result really would not have any effect on the government.

Views ranged from downright apathy to outright passion for one party.

However, most of the folk we stopped and asked what they thought simply did not want to say anything.

The rain managed to hold off as we filmed and once we were finished we had time for a coffee.

Then came the highlight of the day for me.

Sue delved into her bag. My geek pulse started to race as she pulled out a thin black object about the size if an A4 sheet of paper.

Sue had just managed to retrieve this black thing from the boys back in the offices at GMTV. They had been passing it around and playing with it for the last week and only gave her it back very reluctantly.

My hands were sweaty with excitement as I opened up the cover that was concealing the latest bit of Apple technology an iPad.

Sue's iPad.

I then oohed and aahed as I had my short turn of playing with it.

Sue’s son Ollie had given it to her as a present when he came back fro a trip to the states.

It is going to be available in the UK in a few days. I already know of a least one guy that has placed an order after having played with Sue’s.

I said good-bye to the iPad and Sue once we had recorded her voice over.

As I headed towards Tyne Tees Television near the Metro Centre in Gateshead to leave them the tape to be fed down to GMTV in London the grey skies started to clear.

The Sun Going Down on my Journey Home.

By the time I got home as the bright sun settled down over the horizon it had been a much better evening than the day had been.

Edinburgh from the South at Dusk.

Monday, 24 May 2010

"Is it 'cause I is Black?"

Monday 24th May

When we arrived at the little car park at Pavla Vineyard I was pleased to see that Steve had managed to get the satellite truck up the steep drive and under the overhanging trees.

We had all arrived at the same time and made our way up the slopes of the vineyard.

Going up the Hill.

Ben and I had chosen the location because of the fantastic view over the Wye Valley, surly one of the most beautiful places in the country.

Ideally we would have liked to have gone right to the top of the hill but there would not be enough cable to stretch that far and it would be debatable if the digilink would fly that far.

Also it was steep all the way except for a slightly flatter bit half way up.

We correctly thought that Kevin would be keener to do his live workout, however short that would be on as flat an area as possible.

Injuries are always a concern for the personal trainer.

Adam and I rigged our kit and got ready for the broadcasts.

We did a rehearsal of the main broadcast.

The sky was clear and the sun really bright.

Like all proper vineyards this one faces south so that’s the direction of the view.

The sun was coming, as expected from the east.

This meant that when Kevin was doing his little interviews with the guys either he or they would have their back slightly to the sun and be in shadow.

I was explained this to kevin and asked him to try not to keep his back to the sun otherwise it would not be too good because he would be “back lit”.

When I said that he started winding me up by saying “Oh! I’ll have you for racial discrimination. Tellin’ me I’m black. I know I am. It’s no surprise.”

I am so glad that he had his laughing face on and not his wide eyed bad boy look otherwise I’d have been worried.

The last bit of the broadcast was a short workout with music. The Bose speakers did their job blasting out over the Welsh valley.

Versatile Joanne Doubles as a Speaker Stand.

On Air!

Shooting Kevin and Charlotte.

Once we came off air there was the usual phone hysteria as calls were made to check if it all looked and sounded OK, if the content was OK and what the folk at home thought.

Francesca calls Home.... Does Donna.......

....and Michelle.

It does not take long to get all the kit back in the truck and cars, say good-bye and hit the road.

I was happily enjoying the good weather on the drive back to Edinburgh when I got the diversion call and had to head for an overnight stay in York to be ready for a shoot tomorrow/

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Kevin Adams Takes Pole Position.

Sunday 23rd May

Before 7am the sun was shining again and it was already very warm when we went quietly across to the the cottage for Kevin to waken the guys up and get them out on another walk.

Once again they all bounced out of the front door happy and cheery as soon as he knocked on the door.

Ready for the off.

They were so up for the challenge that any petulance that make good television might be hard to come by.

The difference with this walk was that they guys were going to be using walking poles to help them along and give their arms as well as their legs a good workout.

The Poles Come Out the Bags.

Kevin's Smile Keeps the Guys Going........

........So Do the Views on the Way Round.

Sound Recordist Adam Helps Kevin with a Problem Pole.

All Sorted and up For it Again.

Ben and Stuart with the Z5s.

I was pleased because it was mainly on the flat so that my running around behind and in front to get the different angles was easier.

I still racked up a good sweat though.

On the route Kevin was once more stopping and doing little workouts with the guys.

He did one of the sets in a field of fantastic Bluebells.

They're Certainly not Dusty These Bluebells.

After the walk all sweaty and sticky we were driven to Biggsweir Bridge.

This was the backdrop for Kevin’s next bit of torture for the Beach Body Boot Campers.

The Picturesque Bridge.

We were given a bit of a longer rest by the river because Paul the bus driver had gone off. The ipod that had the music for the workout was still in a bag on the bus.

Enjoying the Rest.

Still Enjoying the Rest.....

It Could Go On Forever.

Once the bus was back, the ipod retrieved and we had enjoyed our short relax Kevin went into Mr Bad Boy mode and gave the guys a hard time.

Back to the Hard Work..........

.......for a Producer That Means on the Phone.

I filmed the pain, focus and determination on all of their faces. They were rising to Kevin’s challenge and none of them were prepared to give up.

I felt for them as the big man coaxed another few punches, sit-ups and sprints out of them.

Along with Ben and Stuart with the Z5 cameras we had got some good pictures.

The first half of the afternoon was again slightly restful with us just having to film Kevin and Charlotte chatting to the Campers about how they had done so far.

Then there was another killer, some great shots for me to get of the guys striding it out on another walk. This time weighed down with bags of flour in their back packs.

The views were once more spectacular and the bridges they went across beautiful.

This was the hardest one for me to shoot.

The main part of the walk that pushed them hard was a long steep uphill climb.

Mark, who is planning to do the open mountain stage of the Tour De France was got his head down and went for it.

I was waking backwards as Ben did a little interview with him we did not want him to slow down or break his stride so I could only keep it up for a very short time before huffing and puffing I turned round and let Mark stride off up the hill.

We did get a bit of usable audio.

From the recce on Friday I knew what was at the end of the walk.

The sight of Penault Old church made the sweat worth it and all the guys had a good look around it once they had stretched a bit and cooled off.

Penault Old Church.

Me Getting the Still Shot.

We were surprised that it was still one of the rare churches that is left open.

In the cool of the evening Ben did interviews with all the Beach Body Boot Campers in the back garden of the cottage.

Doing Michelle's Interview in the Garden.

These interviews would be edited and used as the voice track for the films that will go out during the next week.

By the time that we had finished the interviews it was almost 9pm. We were cold, having cooled down in the sweat laden T-shirts we were still wearing and very hungry.

Keen to get a quick bite to eat so that we could get to bed and get a reasonable amount of sleep before the live broadcasts in the morning we set off in search of food.

We hadn’t bargained on what it would be like to get a meal at 9 o’clock in a little village in South Wales.

We were grateful that Chepstow was not too far away and we managed to find a place to eat fairly quickly.

Going straight to bed after an Indian is never ideal but even less ideal when you’re only going to get around five hours in bed.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

New Balls for Kevin Adams.

Saturday 22nd May

The forecasters had it right.

It was going to be a scorcher of a day.

At 6am when we were getting up the sky was clear blue, the low sun already warm and the Beach Body Boot Camp folk up waiting for us to call.

Getting Ready in the Morning Sun.

Adam had mic’d Kevin up and we were all ready to bang on the cottage door to waken them up when Michelle popped her head out one of the upstairs widows and said good morning, quickly followed by Donna opening the front door with a smile.

The plan to waken them up and drag them out kicking and screaming on an early morning walk had been scuppered.

They were all breakfasted and ready to go.

It was us that had to wander back in to the hotel and grab a quick bit of breakfast.

Paul our mini bus driver took us on a short drive.

Then the hard work started not just for them but for us as well.

Kevin had the guys walking pretty briskly through beautiful woods with dappled light sprinkling through the tree canopy.

They were getting a proper workout which we had to cover.

This meant that whilst they walked along, in order to get the tracking shots, wide shots, passing shots and general views we had to dash ahead, film them pass, run past them to get ahead again to do the same thing several times and also walk backwards so that I could shoot the expressions on their faces as they walked.

Kevin stopped from time to time and got the guys doing little circuits of exercises.

Kate and Joanne Join in the Stretches.

At least Adam and I did not have to worry too much about missing that vital shot or grabbing that fleeting bit of natural sound because both Stuart and Ben had little Sony Z5 cameras and were shooting stuff as well.

What Are You Pointing Your Camera at Stuart?

It was at least as good as a hard session in the gym.

There was not much time to rest for the guys when we got back.

I don’t know about them but I could certainly have done with one because I was pretty knackered.

Lucky crew. We did get a breather although not quite the total relax we wanted because the next bit of shooting required the guys using props.

One set of the props was a set of big stability balls.

They were still in their boxes. We took it in turns to pump all six of them up.

Joanne Does a Bit of Pumping.

Stuart and His Two Big Balls.

Think Joanne Likes Hers?

Kevin and Stuart Discuss the Shoot.

Kevin then put the guys through a Burn and Burn workout on the newly blown up stability balls.

This was a much less strenuous shoot for me and a pleasure to so because the background was the Abbey all bright in the sunlight.

Kevin and the guys sweated it out under a bit of shade and that lovely dappled light that fell on them through the trees.

Ben gets Reaction Shots of Mark.

Although we had not exerted ourselves too much on that workout we were all still quite sweaty and sticky.

The Beach Body Boot Campers went off into their cottage to prepare a lunch from Charlotte’s recipes.

In the tea room we mingled with the smartly dressed visitors that had come to gaze at the splendour of the Abbey.

I wonder if the lack of people sitting too close to us in the busy cafe was anything to do with our now dry but bedraggled look accompanied by the undoubted collective aroma?

A short rest and another minibus ride allowed our lunch to go down before we all resoaked our hair and T-shirts with a new outpouring of sweat.

It was another walk, this time up some very steep climbs.

I filmed the guys going for it with Kevin lending loads of encouragement. It was hard work.

Kate, Joanne and Adam on the Way Down Through the Pretty buttercups.

It was worth it when we reached the end at Tintern Old Station and had a chance to rest.

A Couple of Bewildered Locals are not Quite Sure What all the Fuss is About.

At least it was worth it for us crew because we were allowed a little ice cream and coffee.

Joanne. Kate, Ben and Kevin were sensitive when it came to lapping up the creamy treats.

They discretely scoffed theirs inside the cafe.

Kevin Gets Tweeting in the Cafe.

Adam and I on the other hand were not so thoughtful as he licked his cone and I slurped my coffee under the gaze of the Boot Campers who were restricted to a bit of fruit and water.

They did of course give us a good natured hard time.

Courtesy of Bose we had brought a little set of very loud speakers with us for the next event.

Kevin and the guys had a great time doing a bit of a dance workout to thumping music.

Kevin Chooses his Music.

I had a great time throwing the camera around trying to get shots full of energy, showing the guys having a hard but fun time and that could edited in fast and furious cuts.

Ben Goes in for a Close Up.

Buzzing with the endorphins produced by exercise and music we were a noisy bunch, but could never out do the hyper singing and dancing Kevin in the minibus on the way back to the cottage where Charlotte was waiting with more ingredients for Mark and Chris to cook for dinner.

We went off to shower and grab a last sitting for dinner at a restaurant “not far away” that had been recommended.

We were all very hungry and not being able to find the little Cherry Tree restaurant easily even although we were getting directions from the people in the restaurant and both Adam and I were using the handy compass App on our iPhones to guide us was a tad frustrating.

Ben and Stuart had left the hotel quite a while after us.

Kate was in constant touch with them relaying directions to them as the four of us tried to find the elusive restaurant.

Oh how we laughed when we walked in to the restaurant once we had doubled back a couple of times to find a grinning pair of smug producers and a restaurant owner not even barley trying to conceal his amusement.

I’m glad the meal was good!