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, 10 June 2014

Good Morning Britain's Road to Rio

Saturday 7th June
Rio de Janeiro

In the late evening presenter Sean Fletcher, producer Rav Vadgarma and I arrived at Rio's Galeão–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport a few hours late.

The delay was due to one of he First Class passengers being unwell before we left the stand at Heathrow. She was so ill that paramedics had to be called and eventually an ambulance then had to come to take her to hospital.

The airport has not been given an expensive upgrade for the World Cup like Cape Town's four years ago.
Fuleco the armadillo greets us at baggage reclaim
Travelling light, just the two trolley towers for us
I did not need my customs carnet for the Brazilian Customs. What I did need was a kit list that had already been sent to them by Raj, Good Morning Britain's operations manager.

We were not the only media that had arrived on the flight, Sky and Talk Sport were amongst others also there.

The process was a bit disorganised, but I was glad that I had all the correct paperwork because all I had to do was show one of the officers a couple of serial numbers on bits of my kit and wait to get the form, my passport and boarding card photocopied, signed and stamped.

Those that did not have the forms pre done had to go through all their kit and note all the serial numbers. When  I was getting my forms stamped the already knackered guys from Talk Sport had their kit strewn all over the customs area as they wrote down the numbers for the officials.

Talk Sport's shiny boxes before they had to open them up
Our fixer Guilhertme and one of his mates met us as we came out of customs into the sticky Rio night air.

They had two cars, but there was not enough room in them for both us and our kit. So, we pack the kit in the two cars and we got a taxi into the city.

By the time we got the kit up to our rooms, got something to eat and partially unpacked our body clocks told us it was about 4:30 am and we had to be up at 7am local time to go for our accreditation and on to do some filming. Given the time difference we'd be getting a good 6 and a half hours in bed.

Sunday 8th May

Rio de Janeiro

We got to the accreditation centre before it opened. It was not too long a wait. Once we were in we were dealt with in the quick efficient way that I have come to expect of events like this.

Queueing for accreditation
Sean and Rav pass the time on their phones..
Maybe not the best place to hide your cash
Still on the phone as we wait inside
Photographing the photographer as I get snapped for the accreditation
That's it. All official now
With the accreditation sorted and out of the way we were free to go and get on with a bit of filming to show the atmosphere in Rio.

First stop was at a park where I got lots of shots of folk enjoying there leisurely Sunday. It was thronged with people cycling, jogging, rollerblading, eating, drinking and of course kicking a ball around. Lots of the kids were wearing the familiar yellow and green Brazil football tops.

No piece that wanted to show Brazilian life would be anywhere near complete without shots on a beach.

We had been told that it would be best not to wear our accreditation on the streets or even thinking about having it visible on the beach, particularly the famous Copacabana. Crime is one of the acknowledged problems in Rio and one thing that is prevalent is getting anything shiny ripped off your neck. The accreditation is deemed valuable so best not to tempt fate.

We spent a while on the beach at Ipanema doing shots and pieces to camera.
Not the shabbiest location to be working in
When we had gathered enough material it was time to get back to the hotel to get on with the edit so that we could get to bed as early in the evening as possible because we needed to leave at around 11pm to get to the live location and set up ready to broadcast by 6am UK time.
My bedroom becomes the sound studio
Rav's bed becomes workspace and dining table as we break from the edit to eat

Monday 9th June
Rio de Janeiro

It was just about to become Monday in Rio when we arrived at the ITN apartment in a very posh area of the city called Laranjeiras.

The large apartment was doubling up as accommodation for the ITV News team, the Channel 5 News  team and the satellite engineers as well as the centre for doing live broadcasts into the news programmes and as an editing base.
The main work area of the apartment 
When we are in Rio we will be doing our broadcasts into Good Morning Britain from here along with Channel 4 News who will also use it for their editing.
The main transmission area
Another area set up for editing
Images of football greats on the wall
The massive apartment we were told, used to be a British Consular apartment and has the claim to fame that Princess Diana graced it with her presence. 

Guilherme the fixer drove us on the interesting late night drive through some of the nicer parts of the city.

If he had been driving in the UK he and virtually all the other drivers on the road would have racked up a stack of penalty points for running red lights.

Even in the better parts of he city no one stops at all the red traffic lights. There is a history of carjacking. So stopping at a junction is not a good idea. Drivers do slow down a little and ease across the junctions but, the wheels don't stop rolling.

We went past a temporary police check point. The slightly scary thing was that the police manning it had their hand guns in their hands with there fingers along that trigger guard.

Crime here is still a big problem and when it happens it is often very violent. I saw an armoured vehicle, the kind that would deliver and pick up cash from businesses and banks in the UK. Here in Rio it looked a lot more beefed up and when the three or four guys were getting back in after making their delivery the last one backed into the cab he unholstered   his large revolver and held it purposely his hand until the door was firmly closed.

On the expansive balcony I set the camera, lights and sound up on riser platforms so that I could make the most of the lights of he city behind. Unfortunately it was not possible to make out the mountain on which the the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer perches to our right  or Sugar Loaf mountain over to the left because it was too dark.
Rav checking scrips and news feeds.. Sean rehearses
On the blocks ready for the starting broadcast
Autocue under the camera lens
Doing one of the broadcasts
There were no technical hitches with any of the broadcasts, they would come later in the day.

We all headed back to the hotel to get another couple of hours sleep at 6 am local time. By 10am Sean and Rav were off to the England training to do some filming of fans and a bit of the training.

In the afternoon I popped out with Sean and Guilherme to do a quick interview with Loisa a local weather expert. He told us about how dry and hot it would be in Manaus when England play their first game.

When we got back to the hotel all that needed to be done was to get the material ingested into Rav's computer, get it edited and sent to London over the internet.

The first two parts of the process went without a hitch. It was the getting the material back to London when the fun started.

The hotel internet started off at a reasonable upload speed but then, probably due to the time of day and lots of people wanting to do Face Time etc., the speed dropped right down.

Rav was pulling his hair out at the length of time remaining on the things he was feeding.

We tried all the little tricks at our disposal but none of them worked. In the end Rav had sit up for the rest of the night in the hotel lobby where the connection was fastest to get it all back to GMB in London.

It had finally all gone right before we needed to leave to go back to the ITN apartment to do our live broadcasts. He did have just enough time to have a quick shower.


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