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, 2 February 2011

Time to go to Cairo

Wednesday 2nd

Richard and I went back down to the spot we did our broadcasts from yesterday and set up.

We did three live broadcasts this morning with hardly any of the frustrations of yesterday.

Richard on the phone and internet at the same time.

The camera, cables and computer all pretty much did what they were supposed to do and only a couple of times needed a little bit of gentle coaxing to work.

The big decision of the morning was where would we go to go today.

Ideally we needed to be in Cairo because we had done all that we could in Sharm el Sheikh.

So it was either Cairo or come home.

By the time we finished broadcasting it was too late to go by car because we would not get there until the curfew kicked in.

Added to that was that we were being told by a lot of people, some much more reliable than others that it was far too dangerous to drive anyway. There were reports of vigilantes on the road randomly stopping cars and giving non Egyptians a hard time, not to mention the risk of being stopped by the authorities at a roadblock and having the kit taken from us.

One crew reported having had three cameras confiscated in three days.

There was a flight that we could get that was due to leave at 3 pm.

We got to the airport in plenty of time and went through the first stage of security to get to the check-in desks.

There were a few people waiting with no sign of anyone from Egyptair at the desks.

One man we spoke to had been there since yesterday waiting to get on a flight but, there were delays and cancellations due to the problems in Cairo.

The only thing we could do was wait and hope that the flight would go.

The good news was that just as we had arrived the internet was switched back on and we were able to receive our e-mails and Twitter feed.

Waiting and checking Twitter.

As we waited our enthusiasm to get to the where the real story was began to be replaced by a deep unease as we heard the tension grow into the inevitable violence between the pro and anti Mubarak factions.

The more worrying thing for us was that journalists were being targeted by the mobs.

Stories came out of crews being roughed up and at least one guy being chased by a group armed with a variety of nasty weapons.

Still waiting and keeping up to date via Twitter.

Our plan was to get to Cairo and go straight to the hotel in the square where the worlds media had set up camp.

We soon found out that was not going to happen.

Calls and e-mails from colleagues already there and bosses in London said that under no circumstances should we head into the city centre.

It was far too dangerous.

So we went with plan B. We would go to a hotel at the airport and go to Tahrir Square in the morning in time for our live broadcasts.

That was of course it the flight actually ever happened.

In the terminal the atmosphere amoungst the folk that were waiting was good humoured.

However, a couple of fairly minor yet noisy incidents cause the place to go up a notch on the tension meter.

At a check-in desk for another set of flights an American was making his feelings felt about the service he was receiving by screaming and bawling at the guy on the desk and then wandering about yelling at someone on his mobile phone.

Eventually he disappeared towards the departure gates with a young child in his arms and a slightly embarrassed woman not quite at his side.

Our check-in was suddenly open and we started to check in.

At the counter next to us a chap in the official uniform of Egyptian Customs was putting his bag on the belt when for some reason that we could not understand he suddenly started shouting at the check-in clerk.

It got very heated indeed, to the point that some of his colleagues and a policeman had to usher him away and calm him down.

Getting on the plane to Cairo.

At last we were on the plane albeit a few hours later than planned.

When we got to Cairo there was no hint that the city and by proxy the whole country was in a meltdown that could potentially totally destabilise the whole of the middle east.

Outside the Arrivals area at Cairo airport life goes on as normal.

All the time twitter was telling us of the violence and horror happening a few miles from where we were.

We got to our hotel and spent a short time checking out an area from where we could broadcast in the morning.

We found a spot that was ideal. Our only worry was that we might be seen by the hotel security and that could spell trouble for us.

In the morning we will find out.

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