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.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Gand national preview and weather

Friday 8th

In the dark chill Liverpool morning I met Leon the Producer outside the city centre hotel.

The drive to Aintree Racecourse was quick. Getting to our live location on the course was not quite so quick.

Firstly all the vehicles had to be searched.

When the lady from the security company asked to see into Leon’s bag I thought, “This is gong to be a long morning!”

However, when she asked me to open the tailgate she said, “I think that the dog should do this one.”

A few moments later in the harsh light and dark shadows of the temporary floodlights a boisterous Spaniel with muddy feet was leaping in and out of the car.

The handler was pointing at things and apologising for the state of his dog’s feet. The good natured beast carried on the game for a short time, jumped out disappointed at the lack of drugs, explosives or other contraband and headed off to have a sniff around some other vehicle waiting in the queue to be searched.

We drove our mini convoy of two camera crew cars and satellite truck through the car park for the horseboxes that had transported the fast, precious and expensive animals to the course.

The reason for the two crew cars was that there was going to be two cameras on the job this morning.

One would be doing the job of shooting Dan Lobb the presenter for the morning and the other would be covering the weather with Lucy Verasamy Daybreak’s weather presenter.

We parked up in front of the Princess Royal stand. The BBC truck parked not too far from us and they got ready to do their thing.

Our vehicles and the BBC truck beside the rails.

The Princess Royal Stand.

There was a bit of a discussion as to how we would organise the cameras, who would do what and which camera would be on a cable and which would be on the Digi Link.

Geoff and Pete would do the camera with Dan, which would be on a cable, and I would play with the Digi Link with Lucy.

My first little technical nightmare was that my radio mic was not working properly.

That was quickly and easily sorted when Geoff gave me a loan of his.

As the light began to come up the sky was clear but across the course in the gloom a delicate shroud of mist covered the ground in a cool embrace.

Aintree in the mist.

Dan went off with Geoff, Pete and Leon on to the course to prepare for the opening of the programme.

Lucy and I went up into the stand to get as good a view as possible over the famous track and its fences.

The BBC setting up on the misty course.

The course lights piercing the fog.

We set up and I dialled in to the studio sound feed so that Lucy could hear the programme.

There was a moments stress when we could not hear the programme for some reason but it was soon sorted.

Doug, the technical director spoke to us over the talkback. Everything was up and running. We were ready to go.

The first broadcasts went off without a hitch.

When the sun made its appearance trying to burn its way through the low grey fog the racecourse looked like an eerie dream world.

The sun starts to make its presence felt.

Lucy bathed in its golden glow.

Just as Dan was about to do one of his broadcasts from our vantage point high in the stand Lucy and I could see a band of much thicker and higher fog very slowly advance down the course. The fences, white rails and green grass were being gobbled up by the grey monster.

Eventually it drifted over Dann and the crew. What a few moments ago had been a perfect racecourse scene was now just a grey glow.

Dan and the crew in the mist.

It was not long after that when the gremlins came out to have their fun.

They started off during one of Lucy’s weather broadcasts by choosing that moment to let me know that the battery in the radio mic was starting to go flat.

Along with the viewers of Daybreak I could hear the occasional sharp fizzing sound.

I replaced the battery and sacked myself again. This time for not putting a fresh battery in the mic transmitter when Geoff gave it to me.

We wanted to do the final weather broadcast from down on the course near the most famous of the fences, The Chair.

Lucy checks the forecast on her Blackberry before going on air.

The gremlins then came out in force and although we were much nearer the satellite truck with the Digi Link and there was nothing to block the signal the picture started to break up to the point that it was unusable.

The easiest thing to do was because we were down on the course and not far from Geoff’s camera he and Pete would have the pleasure of doing the last weather.

I helped drag the camera cable to the position and then trudged off to the truck to put the kit away as Lucy began the forecast.

Geoff and Pete doing the final broadcast with Lucy.

My work was done. All that was left to do was say goodbye and drive the five hours north. At least it would be the last long drive for a few weeks because I was off on holiday

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