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.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Getting up to date before Euro 2012

Sunday 3rd June

Over the last few months I have been neglecting the blog and not keeping it up to date. It is now time to put that right before a little Jubilee nonsense and a trip to Poland and the Ukraine for Euro 2012.

It has been a time of doing lots of little jobs that have been remarkable in their lack of drama and behind the scenes excitement, the exception being a drive south a couple of months ago and being given the wrong timing for a live broadcast at Edinburgh Castle. The studio came to us three minutes early whilst we were still rehearsing. 

Between then and now there have been a number of stories and I had a little tour of the southern part of the country doing some filming with a pair of couples who wanted to be the first to be married on a beach in the UK.

It was one of those couples, Fraser and Kate that won the viewers votes and said “ I do “ live on air on Friday 28th of April.

Fraser and Kate, the eventual winners.
To highlight the introduction of what has been dubbed “pasty tax” locum reporter Katie Fisher, Chris the sound recordist and Andy the satellite engineer donned white coats, blue over shoes and hair nets to do some broadcasts from Greggs' bakery near Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Hot Cross buns before the oven....
...after baking.
Mmmm hot hot cross buns!
Some are a bit special.

Mmmm doughnuts too.
Katie sorts out her script as Chris sorts out his sound kit.
As well as treating us to freshly baked Hot Cross buns between live broadcasts the nice people at Greggs gave us each a little goodie bag to take away.

Greggs' goodie bag; big rabbit biscuit, 10 hot cross buns, 2 rabbit lollies, 4 crispy cakes and 4 cup cakes.
It is not often these days that freebies like that head in our direction, but rather unusually this came very soon after the excitement of another much larger consignment of freebie goodie bags arrived in large boxes at the Daybreak office in London.

The authorities in Dubai had promised us some gifts to say sorry for the inconvenience that we had been subjected to at Customs when we arrived there on our recent trip.

It had been about two and a half months since the debacle of Dubai. The thoughts of any kind of “gift” had long gone from our minds. So it was with some sense of excitement that John the producer took delivery of many big boxes containing many gifts for all involved in the broadcasts from the barren desert and opulent splendour of the Atlantis hotel.

On our little DIY SOS job with reluctant do it yourselfer Steve and his wife Carly, who was giving up wielding the screwdriver because she was seven months pregnant Christina brought me my gift, handing it to me with a wry smile.

Interviewing Steve...

 ...detailed notes for the day's filming on her knee.

Carly in the nursery she decorated.

The Dubai goodies; 2 XXL T-shirts, 3 hats, a folder and a bag.

There was a lot of driving up and down the A68, A1 & A697 on the east side of the country and M74 & M6 on the west.

Sometimes it was to go on jobs and sometimes just to be told to drive back home as the job had been dropped or the elements required had not materialised.

The good thing about April there was also a bit of time off.

Back on Sunday 1st April The sun was shining, the unseasonal warmth making the drive from Edinburgh to Cambridge almost a joy.

As well as the weather there were a few little events to make the journey more memorable than most.

I saw a couple of car crashes each just involving one car. In one, the driver and passenger were only shaken up a bit after their car slammed into the central reservation and bounced back into the flow of oncoming vehicles. Had it happened at the normal speed for that part of the A1 it would have been carnage. Thankfully the traffic was slowed to 50 by average speed cameras because of road works.

In the second, a couple of hundred miles down the road the injuries sustained by the driver who had ploughed into a hedge looked a little more serious as she was carted off in a head brace on a stretcher to an ambulance.

There was a fair amount of very fresh furry road kill providing little obstacles to maneuover around; one fox, one badger, one large dog and a few other birds, mainly stupid grouse depriving the toffs of the pleasure of dispatching them with lead on the glorious 12th later in the year.

Moored punts as the evening closes in on a quiet Cambridge.
There were a few jobs to keep me busy between the flurry of births at the maternity unit and now.

They included a couple of mornings doing live broadcasts on the Get Britain Reading week that Daybreak did. The finale of the week was the unveiling of a library in a school in Moreton in the Wirral that had been given a really impressive makeover by designer Linda Barker and celebrity handyman Craig Phillips.

Mark the producer checks out camera angles.
Nick Dixon talks about the upcoming broadcast with Linda and Craig.
Linda and a couple of the kids check out the shiny new computers.
The Get Britain Reading Bus.
There was the guy who had survived, against all expectations serious lung cancer caused by his forty a day smoking habit and wanted to spread the anti-smoking message.

Jim's a rare man. He's a lung cancer survivor.
There was Rosie the nine year old from Edinburgh with perfect comedy timing who had written in to the Lorraine show asking for her very unstylish mum to be given a make over.

In the pink in Rosie's room.
A mysterious knitter or more likely group of knitters provided a bit of sleuthing fun and games by night for corespondent Louisa James and me in Saltburn by the Sea.

The night time glow of Teesside's industry from the Saltburn pier.
The same view by day.
Various Olympic themed knitted things had suddenly appeared on the pier.

Olympic themed knitting.
Real surfers in the sea.
Local girl Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson?
Louisa marks out the evidence in the morning.
Another somewhat larger crew on the beach...
...doing a commercial for "Pets at Home". 
There was a quick dash from doing live broadcasts at the main gate of Nissan to the assembly line of the Note for more live broadcasts on the announcement that two new models would be built in the Sunderland plant with the direct result of three new hundred jobs there and a possible seven hundred more with various suppliers.

The Note assembly line.
Sky News getting ready to go live.
Gregg also at the ready.
The big event that should have been heralded with some kind of fanfare of trumpets was a rare live broadcast from north of the border.

It was the record high March temperatures in Aberdeenshire to thank for that.

Spectacular sunrise for the time of year.
Gregg thinking about what he would say in the broadcast..
..and a couple of on lookers.
Our location in the golden glow of the rising sun.

The smart satellite truck had come over the sea from Ireland just for us.
A couple of days after the broadcasts somebody pinched the big 99 cone.
Gregg and I found ourselves back in Aberdeen a few weeks later to report on the helicopter that had to ditch in the sea when it was taking workers out to an oil rig.

We did have a minor bit of TV techie drama on that morning when a large ship coming into Aberdeen harbour wiped out our satellite signal a moment before we were due to be on air. Erron the studio director calmly told the news reader to read slowly in the hope the signal would come back. 

The tall superstructure passed by the microwave beam from the truck again connecting it to the satellite in orbit 32000 kilometres above the earth. The pictures and sound flashed back onto the monitors in the gallery. 

We were on the air. Only the sharpest analysis of the what was broadcast would give a slight hint as to how close we came to not getting the report on air.

The villain of the morning briefly interrupting the satellite signal.
Great hospitality from the Aberdeen RNLI guys.
Another one that almost knocked us off the satellite again.
Daybreak was doing the Jubilee celebrations big time. A new regular to the daybreak team Gethin Jones was brought in to front it. He would tour the country in a cute little cream soft top vintage Morris Minor. That would be followed up with a week of live broadcasts.

I did the Scottish locations in beautiful Deeside the home of the understated Balmoral Castle and Edinburgh including its spectacular castle.

The car arrived in Ballater on a trailer in the dead of night.
Gethin at the wheel in the morning.
Filming on the streets of Ballater...
...Crathie Kirk..
..and in Ballater railway station.

The dining room on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
It was a bit dreich up at Edinburgh Castle.

Even in the none too perfect weather the view from the castle is still pretty good.

There was a little jaunt to London for meetings to break up the excitement of filming.

A hazy back lit London and the Thames seen on the approach to City airport.
Mark, one of the Daybreak producers and I had an interesting day filming in Dumfries with Vicki. We were not allowed to wash using soap or use any deodorant before we met the lady who is said to be Britain's most allergic woman.

Most modern manufactured things that we take for granted can cause her to suffer severe allergic retains if she comes into contact with them.

Rather strangely nuts, which are a common allergen caused her no problem at all.

All the filming had to be done from the outside because she would not let us in to her house for fear of us leaving smells that could upset her delicate constitution.

It was the same when we went back a few days later with Dr Hilary to do some live broadcasts with her.

The live interview with Vicky, an example of what Dr Hillary described as a "strange and exotic" example of an allergic condition  had to be done through an open window. Even the good doctor was not allowed into the house.

Super allergic Vicki leans our her window for the interview..
...with Dr Hilary.
The same morning in the Lorraine programme Dr Hilary had also to talk about strokes and how they can affect some young people.

Charlotte a kind neighbour of Vicki's let us come into her house and use her kitchen as a location for that broadcast.

Dr Hilary ready to talk strokes to Lorraine Kelly.
Not only did she give us a location but coffee and biscuits too.
In Glasgow we did a report in how Strathclyde police are trying to reduce the number of victims of violent crime by getting young kids to understand how horrible the consequences are.

Gregg interviewing the mother of a boy stabbed to death.
I had a little trip to a place I had not been to for a number of years. It was the Garden of Remembrance just outside the small border town of Lockerbie for live broadcasts when the death of Abdelbaset al-Magrahi the man convicted of bombing flight Pan Am 103.

Early morning in the Garden of Remembrance.
There was the lovely bright day in the Wirral at Claire House children's hospice for Daybreak's "Hospice Week. 

It was another morning with Gethin. As well as lots of great courageous kids we had a bit of a local football derby going on with Everton and Liverpool ladies and Rik Waddon, winner of the silver medal for cycling in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.

Gethin just before we go live with the footballers.
Paralympian Rik Waddon having a chat with Jason the sound recordist.
Could Laura the producer be an Evertonian? No, she's not the one on the right!
 I worked with Gethin again on a very busy but beautiful morning at Edinburgh Castle when we started Daybreak's jubilee week.

This was the scariest TV moment for us in a while because of an error in timings. The studio came to us whilst we were busy finishing off a rehearsal a full three minutes before we expected.

We were in the wrong place and with the wrong people. It is in situations like these the presenters earn their hefty wages. Gethin certainly did then.

The viewers would not have been the slightest aware that we did things in a way that was nothing like what we had rehearsed.

4:30 am and the sun pops up to the east of the city.
Yes Edinburgh is blessed with light from a square sun!
Highland dancers and pipers part of the morning's extravaganza.
The weather was back to its seasonal best towards the end of the week when like the rest of the Scottish media we found ourselves outside Govan police office.

The difference for us was that when the pack was there Prime Minister David Cameron's exmedia supremo Andy Coulson was inside being questioned about the evidence he gave during the Tommy Sheridan trial.

When we were there he was long gone having been charged with perjury.

We set up our little satellite dish to do live broadcasts. The quality was deemed not to be good enough so we sent recorded reports instead.

Our car in the now quiet police office public car park.
Satellite dish on the tailgate, camera covered from the rain..
..and Gregg dong a bit of editing.

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