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, 28 January 2011

Heart problems and Zebra fish.

Friday 28th

I had arrived at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute on the site of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary expecting to have to wait for a while for Chantal the producer and Dr Hilary Jones to turn up because I was very early.

Chantal was equally early having flown up on the red eye from Heathrow, she came into the reception at the same time as me.

With Tara the press officer and Nick Mill the Cardiologist we went for a look around at the locations we would be shooting at later when Dr Hilary arrived.

We were there to so a story about some research by the British Heart foundation into heart disease and how the regenerative abilities of zebra fish to repair their hearts could lead to a better treatment for human heart problems.

Dr Hilary came from the airport and we were now a full team of three.

The first of our locations to film at was the Cath Lab in the main hospital, where various procedures to help heart attack victims are done.

The procedure we were going to film was Angioplasty.

This is where a little balloon is inserted into an artery that is not open wide enough to expand it enough to allow an increase in the blood flow.

To film in a sterile environment meant that I needed to get changed into surgical scrubs and because of the X-rays flying around wear a lead apron and neck guard to protect my thyroid.

Shooting in the scrubs and lead apron.

Unfortunately for us but, fortunately for the patient I was going to shoot, her condition was not bad enough to require the procedure. She would be treated simply by drugs.

Then the next patient was not happy being filmed.

So instead of shooting in the room we did an interview with Nick outside.

Nick, Dr Hilary and Chantal discuss the questions for the interview.

By the time this was done there were no patients left to film.

There was a chance that in a little while after a short lunch and filming in the ECG area we could see the procedure being done in another part of the hospital.

So I kept the scrubs on and blended in with the other medical staff wandering around the hospital.

When I went into do the filming in the x-ray cath lab what should have been a straight forward operation began to get a little more complex.

I could tell from Nick’s demeanour as he spoke to his colleagues that things were getting a tiny bit tense.

As I filmed I could see that the two people carrying out the procedure had expressions of serious concentration.

We were there to shoot, if possible a regular Angioplasty with no complications.

I could tell mainly because Nick told me that things were far from straight forward.

I had done a few shots that would be enough to cover the script. It would have been nice to stay and get more and better shots for our piece and for the library but felt it was time to leave and let the guys do their job.

Nick agreed and said that if we had time when we had finished the rest of what we had to shoot there would be things going on later for me to film.

For the rest of the afternoon I filmed in a few labs where various experiments and tests were being done on stem cells and the eggs of the zebra fish.

In a room there were lots and lots of little tanks full of the nippy little black and white fish that looked like skinny mint humbugs with fins.

The zebra fish.

When we got to that room time was rather against us and I did not get as much time as I would have liked to get lots of nice shots of the cute little creatures.

In the last lab I filmed in I did not need to wear scrubs but a white coat. The camera had to be rubbed down with ethanol and the fluffy wind cover for the mic had to be removed.

The final things that we needed to do, a piece to camera from Dr Hilary and the voice over were done a lot more hurriedly than we would have liked because he and Chantal had a flight to London to catch.

We found out that the patient we left earlier in the day when things were not going according to plan had a stroke not long after we left. He was recovering well later on in the afternoon. Dealing with that puts any stress that we find ourselves under inconsequential. Making telly programs is not a life or death activity. It just feels like that sometimes.

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