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, 12 June 2012

Campsite capers and England v France

Monday 11th June

Yesterday we had met with Maxim, the slightly stressed yet very pleasant and helpful manager of he fan's camping park on the outskirts of the city.

He had agreed to allow us to bring our satellite truck onto the area where the campers would be so that we could do our live broadcasts with the England fans who had travelled to the Ukraine.

We arrived at the gate at the agreed 7 am local time, 5 am UK. As is sometimes the case there was a little bit of non-communication or miscommunication resulting in the security guards on the gate being less than willing to let us drive on to the site.

We were then treated to an impressive display of Russian forthright talking from the demur looking Maria. It was quite clear from both the tone of her voice and fairly familiar sound of some, albeit heavily accented, universal words not used in the more polite diplomatic discussions that she was going to get us in come what may.

As well as that she also called Maxim to bend his very tired ear, he had just gone to bed. they had been working all night making sure that the pretty impressive facilities on what until very recently had been a piece of rough wasteland were working for the majority of the fans arriving this morning.

The dual attack did the trick. Suddenly we were pointed in the direction of the gate to the area that we wanted to be in and one of the security guards was sent running to meet us and open the gate.

The gates are opened
I had alerted the Daybreak office that there might be a problem and a chance that we would not be ready for our first little broadcast at the start of the programme at 6 am UK. In the end we were in with plenty of time to spare.

The camping part of the campsite
The tiny bit of added stress was that we were being joined by the BBC. They were going to be using our truck at the same time as us. Satellite dishes like the one that we were using this morning are able to send two sets of signals up to the satellite, known as "dual path". We would send one and the BBC would send another.

They would then be received back at the ground stations separately.

The only thing that we had to make sure was that our broadcasting times did not clash.

They didn't and anyway we were kind of doing different styles of broadcast.

Ravi and BBC Moscow producer Kate discuss the times of the broadcasts
I would not want to mess with either of these two!
Along with the static reports that Tiffany would be doing for the news and sports segments of the programme we would be doing a bit of manic running around looking inside tents and talking to as many of the fans as we could. Some of course were already entering into the spirit of the party and quaffing ale in the hot morning sun.

Tiffany ready to do one of the straight news reports
Then doing it
Tiffany and Ravi walking..
..and talking about the content of the live reports 
Our car, satellite truck and BBC van.
Maria get the coffees in..

..then being sensible gets into the shade
Keith the satellite engineer does the same.
The broadcasts went off with no problems at all and I managed not to fall over any of the guy ropes securing the tents as I scurried around from tent to tent and fan to fan with Tiffany pretty much the way that we had rehearsed in a kind of Anneka Rice fashion.

The BBC's correspondent Daniel Sandford's involved much less dashing around. In fact their live broadcasts were very straight forward just interviewing a few fans all standing in a line.

I'd like to think that our treatment portrayed a more of the atmosphere of the camp.

The BBC doing their live broadcasts
In between our broadcasts Maxim came to offer his apologies for the problem getting in on time. He was pleased that things were going well for us.

Coming up to let us out
When we came off air we went for a very late breakfast/early lunch.

There was then time for an hour or so of rest before we had to get ready to head to the ground for the England v France game at the Donbass Arena

Maria was worth her weight in Grivna, the Ukrainian currency, again, because she guided Ravi driving the hire car to a parking place very close to the stadium.

We had hoped that going to the game would be pleasure rather than work. However, two things put paid to that. The first thing was that ITN asked if I could do them a huge favour and do some shooting at the end of the game with Martin Geissler.

It would be fairly straight forward to do, simply some shots of the England fans leaving, a few vox pops about how they felt about how the game had gone and a piece to camera. It would all have to be done very quickly to get the report on air in time for the Evening news.

I was asked to help out because the cameraman that would normally have done this would be busy setting up in the press conference area to record Roy Hodgson’s post match thoughts and the other cameraman would be busy starting to edit the report.

The only thing that caused a little problem that was solved with the help of our colleagues from Channel 4 was my camera kit.

Although I would be able to get into the stadium I would not be able to take my camera in because it did not have one of the special stickers that designates it as an official camera and all the stickers had been used up.

So, we left it in an office a few streets away from the stadium that Channel 4 News was using as an editing area.

Ravi would collect it from the office before the end of the game. Martin and I would meet him where the England fans would be come out after the final whistle and quickly do the shooting so the tape could be taken to be edited as quickly as possible.

Tiffany, Martin and I then went into the stadium to watch the game. Ravi went with Matt the ITN news editor to watch the game from the broadcast compound.

There  were loads of Russians at the game. Chants of "Ruusseeaa" way louder than any bits of singing that the usually very vocal English.

The Donbass Arena stadium home to Shakhtar
Russians going to the game
French TV doing live broadcasts outside the stadium
Tight security at the media entrance
Also there were quite a lot of flies buzzing around that were a nuisance until the stadium filled up.

The temporary press centre in the stadium

Refreshments and working area all in a big tent

The teams line up for the national anthems
ITV Sport's Gabriel Clarke ready broadcast
Martin Geissler having a chat with Tiffany
England did a bit of attacking..
..a bit of defending
..and scored a goal
So did the French
The England manager Roy Hodgson
For once the plan came together nicely and it all worked out.

Martin and I got the job done and he dashed off with the tape to edit and get it on the air.

We then went off to get a bite to eat in a nice restaurant the decor of which was mainly backlit salt bricks from the local salt mines.

The food was great however, we were somewhat under dressed and a tad smelly after a long day in the sticky Ukrainian heat.

Bar built on salt bricks 

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