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, 26 January 2013

North Yorkshire snow

Monday 21st January
Great Ayton

Another Sunday's personal plans were ripped up when Carol from Daybreak called.

I was needed somewhere in the north east of England to carry on the snow saga.

The forecast was once again for a heavy fall in many parts of England.

The other weekend ITN had a fleet of spanking new four wheel drive vehicles hired for cameramen throughout the country. I had just soldiered on, having no major problems, with my trusty six years old 142000 mile front wheel drive Ford Galaxy.
However today, erring on the side of caution and not wanting me to get stuck, I was advised to get a hold of a four wheel drive car.

After a few unproductive calls I managed to find a place that had one available. 

I drove to the garage to pick up a gleaming black Land Rover Discovery.

Once I had decanted my camera kit, cold weather clobber and snow gear its pristine interior was hidden under jackets, boxes, bags and a shovel.

With a bit of unplanned perfect timing I approached a steer in Middlesbrough where Craig, our man from the RAC with Gregg were arriving to deal with a car that would not start properly.

I filmed Craig do his stuff on the car.

He got it running smoothly. 

Gregg and I did an interview with the drover of the car and Craig. He talked about the huge number of call outs that he had been to that were simply flat batteries caused by the low temperatures.

I followed Craig and Gregg for a while but, that first call had given us all that we really needed.
Craig's RAC patrol vehicle
 I got to my hotel on the eastern more coastal side of the country and Gregg went home a bit farther west.

The plan was simple. One of us would be best placed for the forecast dump of snow that would happen in the very early hours of the morning and continue on through our air time.

The rather nice county house hotel in which I was staying was uncharacteristically noisy with loud thumping base beating its way into the car park. Which I thought strange for a Sunday night.

As I dragged my little suitcase and battery charger into reception I was passed by little groups of happy people who said jolly hellos, one of  the group slightly drunkenly asking if I needed a hand with my luggage.

That was very nice of him I thought.

When I was checking in I found out the reason for the familiarity in the welcome and the offer of help.

It was the hotel's belated staff Christmas party.

Even when I got to my room some distance away from the jumping dance floor I could hear fairly clearly the tracks being played.

I only got about four hours sleep but, that was nothing to do with the noise, I happily blotted it put and got to sleep.

It was simply that after a late night's work I was up very early for this morning's live broadcasts.

 It appeared that our plan was coming together because when I spoke to Ian in the Daybreak office he told me that there had been hardly any snow where Gregg was so he was on his way to my side of the country. That was where the latest forecasts said the snow would hit.

I looked out to see a little bit of snow falling, but not much, and it had obviously just started.

I was telling Ian this on one phone line to the office. Gregg was also at that point telling someone else in the office the same thing.

He went to check out another location where the snow might be falling a bit harder.

It was. We now had a definitive location, Great Ayton North Yorkshire nestling at the foot of the Cleveland Hills.

When I arrived Gregg was already there. It was going to be a little while before the satellite truck would arrive. According to Craig the engineer the roads were very bad.

At one end of the High Street there is a car park right beside the village green. It was covered in a few inches of snow which even for the two wheel drive satellite truck and Charles the sound recordist's little front wheel drive hatch back was not a problem.

The first planned broadcast at 6 am was in jeopardy because of the ETA of the truck.

In the event it was not the later than desirable arrival of the truck that scuppered getting us on air for a little while.

What did the damage was a small significant list of faults in the truck's technical equipment.
ITN satellite truck in Great Ayton
The main problem was that the router which takes the sound and audio into the truck and sends it to the dish to be transmitted was not working.

As well as doing the live broadcasts the material that I had shot last night needed to be sent to London to be edited and transmitted. Gregg also had a voice over to get to London.

Craig arrived a tad frazzled after his almost four hour trek across the country and without the normal pleasantries and time to gather himself he had to get the problem sorted.

A minute or two of head scratching, working out what other minor problems and replugging of cables he had a workable solution.
Routing the audio and video through the truck's VTR machine
In an almost human fit of petulance the computer that runs the whole show decided it would play its part in making the simple task of getting us on air just that bit more difficult.

So after another restart and a few changes of cables the footage was wizzing through the ether to London.

 The snow was now falling, not too heavily, just enough to make the shots look like it was snowing.
The shops of Great Ayton coming to life
The main broadcast that we were needed for apart from the news bulletins was at twenty past six.

We were all set up, using Charles' car with its bonnet up as a prop showing the battery to explain the importance of getting the car's battery checked in the cold weather like this.

We managed to make it for that one and all the others including lots of live shots into the weather forecasts given by Laura Tobin out in another snowy location further south.

Rather unusually a few shots were required well into the Lorraine programme. This meant that we did not start packing the wet kit away until around 9:30 am
My Discovery and satellite truck
Great Ayton's High Green.. old North Yorkshire village
The result was that as quite often happens I was too late to get back to the hotel for a bit of breakfast because it finished at 9:30.

I gave the hotel a call to check that it was indeed at 9:30 the breakfast finished. 

The lady that answered the phone confirmed my fears. Then without any prompting said that my late return would not be a problem and there would be some breakfast for me.

A bit more that a half hour later I was sitting at a table set especially for me in the plush bar tucking into fruit and perfectly cooked  poached eggs.
My personal table in the bar
Snow still falling on the drive north but, roads relatively clear

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