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.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Was that really an old KGB trick?

Thursday 14th June

This morning was what yesterday should have been, a technical breeze. Although, it did not go without any problems at all, in between broadcasts the satellite signal being sent from the truck dropped out for no apparent reason.

Keith got it sorted and transmitting again quickly.

We arrived at the Fan Zone in Independence Square at our usual early hour. The place was deserted. Later in the day when folk are up and about in the warm sun it will, like yesterday be full of people enjoying the football related entertainment.

Archangel Mikhail on top of the huge Independency Column 
Since arriving in the Ukraine we I have been using a digital link between the camera and the satellite truck. This removes the need for cables and allows us to take the camera further away from the truck and allows for much more flexibility in movement.

The Digi-link on the back of the camera
This morning would test the normal set up because our location would be at one end of the huge square and the truck at the other, several hundred meters apart.

We were at the blue dot and the truck was where the white cars are at the top left of the picture

Our one is the small truck on the left

Geek heaven. Lots of dishes and aerials
The receivers for the Digi-link
If there was any difficulty with the normal set up there was a little booster that can fire out more power increasing the transmission power of the link from a normal 110 milliwatt  to 1.5 Watt.

The little booster
It was not needed because there were lots of buildings for the signal to bounce off.

ITN truck
Keith setting up the satellite dish to transmit
The vital job. Arthur arrives with the coffee
The main stage in the Fan Zone
Rav and Tiffany discuss what London want her to say..
..warmed by the low early morning sun
Ready to go live. Hope they don't turn the fountains on!
Camera with the digi link on the back. Really hope they don't turn the fountains on!
We only did a few simple stand upper broadcasts into both Daybreak and the Lorraine programme.

There was even time to have a seat and enjoy the sun
Tiffany mainly talked about the WAGs who had already arrived in Krakow and those still due to turn up to see their boys.

To give us some excitement someone launched some balloons...
...which drifted slowly above the birds on the gentle breeze
Later this wide street lined with imposing soviet style buildings will be thronged with football fans and families 
It was all a rather relaxed morning and judging from listening to Ralph the director in the gallery it was the same in London.

Parking on the pavement is obligatory apparently
At least we did not have to pay this time because the resourceful Arthur had acquired a pass which said that he was an important member of some government department.

We had our breakfast/lunch in the same quirky Ukrainian restaurant we ate in last night.

Going in to the restaurant
The inside
Interesting murals on the wall
Tiffany on the work phone even when we were having breakfast

The hope had been that we would have the afternoon and evening off to have a bit of a recharge.

That was not going to happen after Rav and Tiffany took some phone calls and e-mails from London.

First stop had to be at the Dynamo Kiev stadium media centre where we had, we think, an encounter with a bit of covert surveillance.

The stadium from the media centre steps
Can't get away form satellite dishes 
The media centre
Rav was a bit suspicious of a fire hose box at the top of stairs which, when you walked passed it there was the distinct noise of what sounded like a camera shutter going off.

Is there just a fire hose in there?
I was going to discretely open it up to see what was there. I was then aware that one of the security men was looking very intently at me. So I decided to sneak a peek later if I got the chance.

Gary, our office expert on such things back in London, did tell us that this was a well known place where back in the days of the cold war, the KGB and Stasi did indeed place cameras.

The reason that we had gone to there in the first place was two fold, first to get a few shots of the stadium and second to do an interview with a football pundit.

In this case it was Oliver Holt of the Daily Mirror.

Ollie Holt and Tiffany chatting after the interview was finished
Appropriately this building is a bit shadowy. It is the old KGB offices 
We then went back into a now very busy and hot Kiev city centre to do some interviews with English and Swedish fans. I also needed to get some shots of both sets of them.

Getting the Swedes was easy because there were loads and loads of them. So much so, they had their own special part of the Fan Zone.

There were not very many English fans around and the little bunch congregated in front of a few flags were very drunk and belting out "There Were Ten German Bombers".

We did find one or two more less inebriated in bars on the periphery of the Fan Zone in Independence Square.

Mobbed with the Swedes..
..not quite so many English
Another crew at work, the future of television?
This part of the evening's entertainment was done fairly quickly. It was then that the night got a fair bit longer than we would have liked.

One of the sets of guests that we were planning to have on the Programme in the morning was the England Band and Bernie Clifton.

There was a problem with them getting to us because they would be too far away. We would have to find them a hotel.

So, Rav with the help of Arthur got on the case. It took a while but, eventually they found one. It did not have the total number of rooms that were needed. Some of the guys would need to double up and maybe perhaps kip on the floor.

The big problem though, was that the rooms had to be prepaid in person.

Then began our tour of the less glitzy parts of Kiev.

Driving around the city..
..the less glamorous parts
It was one of those confusing sat' nav' situations which took us to a place with the same name but on the opposite side of the city.

We did get to the hotel eventually but, even then there was more confusion because it was tucked in behind a restaurant sitting back off the road.

The restaurant..
..with the hotel behind it
The next hurdle for Rav to clear was that the hotel did not take credit cards.

Rav and Arthur went in search of a cash machine but, to continue the stretching out of the day the ATM close by was out of order.

Fortunately Arthur had just enough cash with him to pay what was needed. Rav would then reimburse him with later.

Arthur and Rav at last able to pay for the hotel
The receptionist had to fill out an extensive registration form
This part of the city did have and interesting church with some busts of heroes of the state or something outside.

The church
Famous men and the Ukrainian flag
When the hotel was sorted and all the guests that might be coming down to the live broadcast in the morning had been firmed up as much as possible it was time for some not so good food in the hotel restaurant/bar surrounded by the now unusual sight and smell of smokers.

All that was left to do was for me to make sure that all my batteries were getting charged and organise my kit for the morning. Rav was going to have a  bit of a later night.

I gave him the mac so that he could edit the piece that we had done, add some extra shots and send the vox pops about the WAGs to London.

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