Thursday 7th March 2013
It might have been raining but that did nothing to dampen Keith Chegwin’s spirits.
The sensible bosses at ITV had brought him back onto the breakfast TV screen after an absence of about three years.
He had been signed up to do what he does best on morning TV, run around frantically and surprise viewers. In this week’s series of “doorsteps” on the run up to Mother’s Day called, "Thanks Mum" he was surprising mum’s who had been nominated by their families for being special.
It was a pleasure to see him again. The mood in the dingy damp Aberdeen weather was good as we prepared for this morning’s dash.
The previous three, south of the border had been very good, great reactions from the mum’s involved and technically spot on.
It was also fantastic to hear Simon the director's jolly voice over talkback. He had left Daybreak a year or so ago after many years as senior director and was back to cover for holidays.
Our satellite truck was discretely parked away from the location, a community centre in Powis, one of Aberdeen’s less salubrious areas.
In and around the truck we broadcast a couple of funny little teases in Keith’s inimitable style giving clues as to where we were.
|Daybreak bringing out the best of Keith|
One of the more cryptic of those clues was Keith saying “I hope I’m not Walking on Broken Glass?”
It is the title of a hit by Annie Lennox who comes from Aberdeen.
Nikki, one of the daughter’s who had nominated this morning’s mum, Pauline for the programme had come up from her home in Kent to add to the surprise.
|Sound recordist Colin gets his kit sorted out|
|One of the gags involved a wheelie bin|
I had been up here with producer Christina a week or so ago doing a little film with Pauline’s other daughter Emma and son Kiefer which would be shown once we sprang the surprise.
Keith and I were quite excited about the dash to the old grey building. It was about a hundred yards up a slight incline, then up a short flight of concrete steps, through the big solid main door, across a little hallway and then through another weighty door, finally arriving at the room of the nursery where, if the plan came together Pauline would be sitting with Emma.
We were on straight after one of the commercial breaks. As the PA counted out the break Simon the director gave us a standby. We got ready to go.
We heard the short introduction music and off we went. Keith said a few brief words directly to camera before turning and heading off up the wide lane to the imposing building in the distance.
|Keith's little entourage ready to go|
I ran behind him as he waxed lyrical about why Pauline had been nominated and what great things she had done for the community, like setting up, virtually from scratch, the children’s nursery that we were about to storm into.
Emma had organised a few lookouts to help us. So, when we got to the front door it was opened wide as was the next door.
There was a woman with her back to us sitting at a low table with Emma. Keith dashed over to her sprang the surprise.
Her reaction was great, total shock etched on her face.
At this point I could hear Simon talking about picture break up, but saying that they should stay with it.
Over the other talkback came the instruction for Keith to get to the VT.
Without missing a beat Keith did as requested and the VT rolled both on air and locally when producer Fred hit the play button on the iPad.
I reframed my shot to a close up of Pauline, which was then put on air in a little box in the corner of the screen as the emotional little film was played.
A few short seconds after the film was finished and we were back live again I heard Simon say that they would have to come off us because the picture break up was too bad.
It sounded like a cable fault.
I checked all the connections at the camera end. They all seemed fine. Everything was solidly connected where it should have been and similarly, slack where it should have been.
I scratched my head baffled as to what the problem was.
Dave, a bit breathless from his much faster run up the lane from the truck had solved the problem.
Somehow the cable at the truck end had become stretched and was pulling on a connection at the back.
At least it had been a solvable problem.
Now we had to find out if we were going to get the chance to get on again.
It was then that I heard that there had been another technical problem. On the run up to the nursery Keith had gone off mic a few times when he had his back to camera.
That was another momentarily baffling problem given that he had a personal mic clipped to his jumper.
Turned out that the safety mic, the one on the camera, was the one that had been faded up at that point rather than the personal mic Keith was wearing.
Those two simple faults somewhat took the shine off the morning for us.
The upside was that the cable had not caused the problem until after the initial unrepeatable reaction. At least we had heard some of what Keith had said and when Pauline saw her normally distant daughter her reaction was again all the we could have hoped for.
|Keith turns his hand to a bit of graphics work|
|Quick photo call|
We said our goodbyes and thank-yous for the coffee and pancakes that the staff of the nursery had made for us before heading back to the hotel for breakfast when we would field the inevitable phone calls from London wanting to know what went wrong, why it went wrong and what we needed to do to make sure it doesn’t happen tomorrow.
|Welcoming warm fire back at the hotel..|
|..and a good breakfast|
They probably won’t reoccur tomorrow or the next day but there are always a host if things that can and will go wrong when live TV is concerned. It is just a matter of time and luck.
Up until this morning's little extravaganza things had been a bit quieter than usual with just a few trips to Glasgow to do live broadcasts from STV with Daybreak's Scotland Correspondent Debi Edward and a bit further south to Burnley for a down the line interview about the closures of A&E departments amongst other things.
|Set up in Helen's home in Burnley for down the line interview|
|Debi in the fog at the STV camera position|
|The early morning view from the balcony minus fog|