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, 27 August 2010

Leaving Delhi.

Friday 27th

The job was finished and feeling emotionally drained with our intense three day exposure to some of the world’s worst poverty and living conditions we had to leave the relative luxury of our hotel at 5 am to get to the airport for the flight home.

The new airport is impressive by the standards of any large modern flight hub and belies the disorder and state of the public areas of the city we were leaving.

Getting to the airport was the easy bit. Getting into the terminal was not quite so easy.

In these days of electronic tickets and paperless travel the police guards at the doors of the terminal building would not let anyone in until they showed both their passport and either a flight ticket or a piece of paper that had the flight details on it.

The sergeant at the door I was trying to go through would not accept the details on iPhone he wanted a hard copy and was most insistent that I was not going to get in.

Ian was having a similar problem at the other door. His policeman was a little more accepting of the details on his Blackberry.

As he had all our flight details to show we all congregated and went through that door.

The next hurdle to clear was the carnet stamping. It had been a breeze on the way in. Would it be as easy on the way out?

We had to get all our stuff checked in at the BA desk, but not sent down to the aircraft.

One of the nice ladies at the check in area then came with us to the customs office to check that it was ok to load the bags and boxes.

The process of explaining the carnet to the check in people and the possibility that customs might want to look at the equipment so it could not be sent straight down the belt took a little time and patience on all our parts.

I think that both the good humour and courtesy that Glenn and I extended paid off.

We asked for aisle seats but were told there were none available.

Would one window and an aisle be acceptable if we were upgraded to World Traveller Plus?

We gratefully accepted.

It had been two good results for me on the upgrade front getting bumped up on the way out and on the way back.

Feeling quite chuffed that we now had big seats but a little bit guilty that Ian and Grainne were still stuck up the back we headed to customs.

The outgoing stamping took a bit longer than the incoming process.

The customs officer was giving a couple of rather cowed looking baggage handlers a bit of a dressing down for not doing something correctly on some paper work when he motioned us to enter the small office.

It was quite amusing to hear part of the conversation in Hindi with the odd “sorry sir” and “we do it right next time” in English.

I thought it did not bode well for us if he was in a bad mood but it was quite the opposite he was quite jolly as he meticulously filled in the forms and gently with precision stamped the documents.

An little over an hour had passed since we arrived at the airport. There was still plenty of time to get breakfast before the flight.

All we had to do was go through security.

Easier said than done.

The queue was not very long but almost every passenger was having the full works.

Bags were searched after they had gone through the x-ray machine and people were given a good old frisk search.

Had we not been tired and jaded It would have been a joy to behold, the moment the security search team saw our kit, more specifically Glenn’s.

They had all his sound equipment out, looking at it scanning it, turning it upside down and shaking it.

One of the guys was particularly interested in the fluffy microphone when it emerged like an overgrown hamster poking through the black rubber flaps of the x-ray machine.

It took a little while but once they had played with every possible bit of the sound kit and anything that remotely looked electronic or shiny we were free to join Ian and Grainne in the departure lounge.

They had experienced a similar lingering time going through security before us.

I told them about our happy time at the check in desk and our big seats.

They both said well done but i am sure with a slight degree of envy. Certainly that would have been my reaction had I been in their position.

Out of the three hours we had spent in the airport before the departure of the plane we had under twenty minutes to grab what must be said was a very nice swift breakfast.

Onboard I tried to get some sleep as soon as possible. I scoffed the meal, donned my headphones, eye mask and settled down to get some slumber if not full blown sleep.

I decided to emerge from my sensory isolation nearly six hours later after drifting in and out of a welcome yet unsatisfactory sleep.

I was surprised to see Grainne not Glenn happily finishing off breakfast in the seat next to me.

A couple of hours into the flight Glenn, ever the gentleman had gone back to see how Ian and Grainne were getting on.

Ian was in a state if in-flight dribbling sleep whereas poor Grainne was having to suffer the girl behind her repeatedly putting her tray table up and down very violently.

Even though both Grainne and the chap next to her had asked the girl to stop she persisted so preventing Grainne getting any sleep.

Glenn told her to take his seat and he would sit there.

Thankfully for Glenn the girl behind got bored with her game and nearer the front beside my dribbling mass Grainne got a little bit of badly needed rest if not sleep.

She would to be up very early on Saturday morning to start recording an Irish talent show similar to X-Factor.

At Heathrow we all said our farewells. It had been, as ever, a hectic eventful and interesting trip.

Ian and Glenn headed to their London homes, Grainne went to terminal 3 to wait for her flight to Dublin and I stayed at T5 to get the flight home to Edinburgh.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Dikshit Interview

Thursday 26th

Jet lag added to the emotional mangle that we'd been through yesterday resulted in us all feeling very jaded at breakfast.

So it took a minor feat of willpower to drag ourselves out into the Delhi day.

One of the main interviews we needed to do was with the Chief Minister of Delhi, rather humorously named Mrs Dikshit.

The entrance to the Chief Ministers of Delhi's house.

The Lady's name plaque at the entrance.

Ian and Rohit had been trying to organise an interview with her for ages but had not managed to get a firm agreement.

So, with only one day left of our short trip we had to go to her house and see if we could get her to speak to us.

Rohit, Ian and Grainne went in to speak to her people.

Things started to look promising when we were ushered into a little office to wait for the word from on high.

We waited for a while until a little man clutching a mobile phone bustled into the room.

Rohit briefly and quickly explained who we were and what we wanted and how quick we'd be.

The man who had also been talking on his phone and dealing with other people as Rohit talked then made another call.

He handed the phone to Rohit and asked him to speak to someone else.

Rohit in discussion about getting the important interview.

He then went away briefly, returning to ask Rohit, Grainne and Ian to go with him to plead the case for the interview with the lady herself.

The man taking Rohit Ian and Grainne for an audience with the lady.

Glen and I stayed put ready to join them if we got the go ahead.

When the trio came back from their short meeting they were slightly surprised when we told them that we were happy with the arrangements for the seven o'clock interview.

Had we suddenly become mind readers?


But not quite.

Grainne still had her radio mic on and even though the guys were in another building a hundred meters away Glenn was still able to hear the conversation.

Glenn listening in.

The downside was that the slim possibility of an early finish, plenty of time to have a relaxed meal, pack and have a good long sleep before the early flight home in the morning had been blown out of the water. Ho hum.

We then went off to do some stuff around the city and film at a demonstration that was happening in the centre.

It was a day of protest in the city so one of the things we were able to film were workers expressing their displeasure with the city bosses and Mrs Dikshit in particular.

There was a lot of chanting going on. There was some debate as to whether it would be possible for us to use the Hindi chanting on air.

It consisted of them calling Mrs Dikshit a bitch and all she said was bullshit.

Would the Hindi speaking viewers of Daybreak complain about the bad language?

At lunch time I was mildly stunned when we were ordering lunch in a very old established colonial style restaurant when I saw chicken tikka massala on the menu.

I just had to order it.

I was very pleased to find that it was the best I have ever tasted.

Chicken Tikka Massala on the menu here.

Inside the restaurant.

After lunch Rohit suggested coffee at the largest Indian news agency housed in the equivalent of a listed building.

United News of India's building.

The newsroom is not quite state of the art.

The coffee shop is not quite Starbucks or Costa.

We also did some shots at the games village.

We wanted to get a good wide shot of the city from some sort of high point.

Delhi is a very flat place so there is no high hill or other natural place to get the shot from.

It would be done from a high building.

The problem we had with that was that since the bombings in Mumbai the security around any building that the public might go into is very heavy.

All the hotels now have airport style scanners and all cars are checked when they drive up to the reception.

Also Rohit told us that there would be very little chance of getting on to the roof of any building to get the shots we wanted.

We did try but the answer was as Rohit had predicted.

He did know of a place where we might be able to get the shots but a bit of subterfuge would be required.

We went into a swanky hotel called Lalit and headed for the restaurant on the 28th floor.

Outside the closed restaurant were a couple of windows that gave a perfect view of two sides of the city.

There were staff and the restaurant manger busy setting up for the evening.

Ian and Rohit went to speak to the manager about organising a big corporate function. They would need to discuss the types of menus and wine list in great detail.

The manager took them into the restaurant to talk about the details of fine wine and the intricacies of canap├ęs.

As soon as they went round the corner into the smart dining area I stuck the camera on my shoulder and did as many shots of the city as I could whilst the manager was being kept busy.

At the appointed time we went back to the Dikshit residence and did the interview with the city's Chief Minister.

The interview.

The work was done.

We said goodbye to Louis who had been with us looking after the gear and helping with the kit.

Louis a great help.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Homeless in downtown Delhi

Wednesday 25th

Stepping out of the air conditioned hotel through the heavily steamed up glass doors out into the grey sticky morning was like entering a big sauna room.

The humidity struck us like being hit by a big hot sponge dipped in glue.

My first thought was for the camera and the dreaded humid warning.

There was a long enough journey to one of the building sites near the Jawahar Lal Nehru Commonwealth Games main stadium in the car without the air conditioning on to allow the camera to get used to the climate.

We did a little interview about the conditions that the building workers were having to endure to get the venues and accommodation finished before the start of the games.

I then did a couple of shots inside one of the makeshift shacks some of the men were living in.

It was absolutely unbelievable. They are living in things built out of sheets of metal for fencing and similar bits of rusty metal on piles of old bricks were their beds.

The "beds" were covered, or rather part covered with some cheap rough blankets.

Then I did some shots of the workers on the site next to the stadium.

They included a small group of men women and children. All of them were in normal clothes. The kids in bare feet were running around as the men scraped earth into shallow bowls that the women put on their heads, carried them a few meters and tipped out onto a small pile in the road.

The people at work.

Shooting the workers.

In one of Delhi's back streets we met the women that spend their day creating colourful and fragrant flower garlands.

The ladies in there colourful saris to complement the pretty flowers were sitting around piles of rubble that had been their somewhat humble homes for the past twenty years.

The flattened area is what is left of her home.

They had been built on to the back wall of a row of proper houses and took up part of the road.

The small brick structures had been demolished because they were regarded as being eyesores.

Even though these long term squats had been turned into a pile of scruffy bricks the families are still living there.

They have nowhere else to go.

Grainne did an interview with two of the ladies about their plight.

They told a moving story with resignation and understated anger.

I then filmed the ladies beside the slowly diminishing piles of red roses as they made their garlands.

One of the ladies shows Grainne how to make a garland.

Glenn the sound recordist was having a nightmare time. Delhi is not the best sound environment to record sensitive interviews.

There was a constant sound track of blaring horns, revving engines and car alarms for him to deal with.

I on the other hand was in cameraman heaven.

Everywhere I turned there was another colourful, exciting and interesting image, often heart rending.

Our next stop was at a railway crossing at the other side of the stadium to do a piece to camera with Grainne.

It was a mad scene when a train was about to approach and the level crossing barrier came down.

All it did was to slow down the throng crossing the track.

Those on foot just ducked under the rusty barrier and sauntered over the railroad.

Those with push bikes, scooters and motor bikes were slowed down a little bit more.

They had to stop, get off their bikes, tip them to the side and push them under the single pole with the big stop sign on it.

Those with four or three wheels in the form of rickshaws or little "tuk tuk" vehicles had to stop. They patienty waited for the long freight train to pass.

Waiting as the train passes.

As often happens when doing a piece to camera with anyone but is a guarantee when a beautiful woman is involved, we attracted a bit of a crowd.

Contrary to most expectations the kids, teenagers and adults in the small gathering were not in the least a nuisance, just curious.

There's always one!

Sometimes there are two!

Going up to the crossing.

It had been a busy morning at last lunchtime had arrived.

Rohit took us to the Indian Press club for a fantastic lunch of curried delicacies.

The Press Club entrance.


The smallest menu I've ever seen.

Glenn and Ian get stuck in.

Grainne and Rohit break to have a talk.

Our emotions were given another hard tug at the next stop.

Rohit drove us to the bustling poorer part of the city where we were going to meet a pair of ladies that had been thrown into a beggars "jail".

The road outside the homeless building.

They had been stuck in there allegedly to clean the place up before the games.

They had managed to get out and were now living in a homeless shelter in the Baharganj area of the city.

The homeless shelter.

Ian chats to Grainne as Glenn mics her up before we go into the shelter.

Up the filthy dark stairs populated by a fine mist of mosquitos we went into a large echoing room with large windows on three sides, some of them were not broken.

A man was busy sweeping up. The only furnishings were some what looked like painted oil drums and a few dark blankets.

Oh, and just one other thing, there was a old TV sitting on the top of one of the oil drums.

Homeless in Delhi is not fun.

The two women, a mother and daughter were again wearing colourful saris.

They told a harrowing story of degradation, corruption and sexual harassment whilst they were in the resettlement hostel.

The faces of the ladies tells the story.

After the interview, which had stunned us all I needed to get some shots of the people in the room.

I did not quite have as much time as I would have liked.

"The mosquitos are starting to bite now", said Rohit, adding, "and they could have dengue or malaria."

Once he said that and advised a hasty departure I knocked off a couple of quick shots and followed the other guys who were already making for the street.

In the short but intense time we had seen and experience the most truly incredible sights.

One in particular that will live in my memory for a long time was outside this homeless shelter just before we went in.

A small girl around perhaps three years old came out carrying a piece of dirty purple cloth.

Like almost all the Delhi poor kids we had seen she was barefooted, but also she was totally naked.

After the heavy rains there were lots of filthy muddy puddles. She skip-splashed through a couple of them out on to the street where she playfully flicked her large rag at a white cow peacefully resting on the dusty broken up pavement. She then walked to the edge of the road and squatted down to pee.

When she was finished up she got and skipped back into the building.

The last part of the days job was at a roadside workers camp.

Near the city centre cows are happy in the road.

We arrived as the sun went down. The workers were still out at their various Commonwealth Games related building sites around the city.

There were women and lots of kids around.

We then did an interview with a woman who was unable to work after getting sick, another story of misery.

Ian, Grainne and Rohit chat about the plight of the people in the camp.

Kids pose outside their tarpaulin tent homes.

Kids everywhere pick their noses. It's no different in Delhi.

What future for this beautiful girl?

We left the camp as night drew on feeling in slight awe of what the people we had seen were putting up with yet still managing to have a large degree of personal dignity and pride.