My break for the festive season ended with a call from Susanna on the newsdesk calling with the news that I’d need to cut it short to travel to county Durham for live broadcasts on the story about the taxi driver Michael Atherton with a license for six guns had shot and killed three members of his family and then as the cliché goes, “turned the gun on himself”.
The back end of 2011 had been a mix of animals and weather. The arrival of the pandas at Edinburgh zoo was a little highlight when a few days after doing live broadcasts when we were unable to see the new arrivals Gregg and I were asked back to see how the pair had settled in to their pricey panda pad.
Bad weather in Workington.
Bad weather broadcasts on the internet with Gregg....
...right opposite Scotland's two main broadcast centres, the BBC and STV.....
...but, this was the background to the shot.
Tian Tian (Sweetie) checks out her new home in Edinburgh..
.. whilst next door Yang Guan (Sunshine) tucks into some of the 17 kgs of bamboo he'll eat in a day.
This morning up a dark wet and windy back lane in the old mining town of Horden Mark the engineer on the Tyne Tees TV satellite truck and I set up for the live broadcasts.
The Tyne Tees truck.
The only shot we could get was of a police cordon and a police van because access to the street where the killings had happened had been blocked off. It was not a great shot. The BBC were setting up at the other end of the street with a similarly uninspiring shot.
The background of our shot for the live broadcasts.
Conditions for the live broadcasts from around the country were not ideal because of the wind and rain.
For the earlier broadcasts this prevented Jonathan Swain and the crew in Norfolk getting on air with the story about human remains being found on the grounds of the Queens estate at Sandringham.
It was a little bit touch and go for Richard Gaisford and co doing the story about the increase in rail fares. Luckily the satellite dish on that broadcast was not blown too badly and his broadcasts went off with no problems.
We managed to get our earlier broadcasts with Gregg telling the gruesome story at 6 and 7 along with the 6:30 down the line broadcast with local councillor Paul Stradling out with no major problems but, just before our 8 am broadcast the wind wiped the signal out completely.
The rain swirling around the lights of the truck.
However, the conditions within ITV Daybreak were much better having improved after a year of things not going well and morale being at a very low ebb. Apart from one exception, a few much needed and vital changes had been made and at last things felt better.