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.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Daring Do by Dotty the Donkey.

Tuesday 5th

Yesterday I had made the long drive south from Edinburgh to Scarborough and met Gregg at a farm on the outskirts of the town.

It was a nice easy shoot.

Dotty the donkey was going to get an award for bravery from the PDSA.

Dotty the "Have a go" hero donkey.

She had saved the life of her friend Stan the sheep who was being attacked viciously by a pit bull type dog.

Stan the sheep and Dotty the donkey.

Dotty had jumped on to the dog that was clinging on to Stan’s face, forced it to let go and chased it away.

In the barn that housed them both I did a few shots of the pair and we then did a couple of interviews with Anne the owner and witness to the attack, and Elaine a vet from the PDSA.

At our hotel not far away Gregg edited the report and sent it over the internet to Daybreak in London.

This morning in the predawn darkness we made our way back to the farm to do some easy live broadcasts.

Well at least they should have been.

The satellite truck in the farmyard.

Just before the first live broadcast we were moving to get in position when the camera cable got snagged somehow and was pulled out of the connector attaching it to the box that is then attached to the camera.

A new cable was needed in a hurry. There was not much time until we were due to be on air.

Sean the satellite engineer jumped out of the truck and started to unwind the other drum of cable. I ran it out to make sure that it was the right length to get to the positions we had to get to.

Within a few seconds the frantic activity was over and we were ready to go in time for the first live report.

Sound recordist Pete attaches the new cable to the box.

That one was out of the way and had pretty much worked, although Dotty had wandered off and was not in the ideal position for me during the broadcast.

The saying about working with animals and children is a real cliché but only because it is so true.

There was about an hour until the next broadcasts. We stood around the truck chatting about our recent jobs, me in Japan dodging radiation clouds and Gregg in Libya dodging smaller but more instantly lethal bullets, whilst drinking the tea and eating the biscuits generously provided by Anne.

In a leisurely relaxed manner we prepared for the next broadcast at around 7:45.

It certainly was a real farm.

We were in position with plenty of time to go. That would be our last one for the morning and the job would be done.

For Anne and the PDSA people it was just the start of the day because there was going to be a little ceremony where Dotty would be presented with the award.

There would be a good media presence at that, including our colleagues from ITV Granada’s Calendar programme.

The BBC was also doing some coverage starting with a radio report not long after we came off air.

As we stood ready for the broadcast Gregg said, “That’s the Beeb arriving.” He motioned to behind the satellite truck.

“As long as he’s not parked on our cable.” I said.

There was only a few seconds until we went on air.

From the scene of the attack Gregg did the introduction to the report that we had done yesterday. During the one minute fourteen seconds that the the report was running we would reposition into the barn to see Dotty, Stan, Anne and Elaine.

It was all very similar the the earlier broadcast.

The only thing was that the BBC chap had indeed parked his van on top of the camera cable which meant that when we went to move to the barn there was not enough length to get there.

The driver had vanished.

I yelled out, “Where are you Mr BBC!”

Gregg tried tugging at the cable but it would not budge.

Once again Sean leapt out of the truck and this time ran to the farmhouse where he thought that the BBC chap might be.

Gregg then called on Anne to come out of the barn and come up to us.

It was a nightmare. The whole purpose of us being there was to see Dotty the donkey and we were not going to see her on the live broadcast.

Gregg spoke to Erron the director in the gallery and asked him to have some of the shots from the report ready to run again during the chat with Anne.

Amazingly he was on the ball having heard all the commotion and had the pictures ready.

The PA counted the last few seconds out of the report and we were back on air.

Gregg talked to Anne and Erron ran the pictures of Dotty.

The guy from the BBC came out of the house and moved the van those few vital centimetres to free the cable.

It was too late.

He was very apologetic when we came off air.

The BBC van with it's mast up after we were off air.

The cable still almost under the wheel after the van was moved.

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