Throughout 2006

Eastenders is normally filmed by two crews at any one time, one shooting in the studio and the other on the outside lot (Albert Square). To cope with breaks in shooting at Easter and Christmas or to cover stories that require locations away from Eastender's home base, a third crew is brought in to take production out on location several times a year.
This winter saw me spending a month out on the road filming a special week of episodes shown at the end of March, 'Get Johnny' week. Sometimes the extra unit gets to travel to interesting foreign locations like Venice, Paris or Spain, but we had all the thrill of an industrial estate near St Albans, glamorous life eh?
Besides the unglamorous location was the less than comfortable climate. Although we mercifully suffered little rain or snow, temperatures were often at or below freezing. A particular discomfort when harnessed onto a low-loader at 50mph filming in-car footage or standing in the middle of a wind spent field.
The week of programs saw the exit of the character Johnny Allen, played by Billy Murray. A major scene in the week is a dramatic stunt when Phil Mitchell, played by Steve McFadden, crashes the car he's driving into a pile of skips which then fall onto his car.
Whilst shooting stunts sounds dramatic and exciting, it's always a slow methodical process to ensure everyone's safety, with lots of waiting around in the cold. As sometimes happens the safety precautions became very important when things didn't go quite as expected. The first skip to fall on the car from over 10m above should have flattened the back of the car and fallen off. However the huge skip fell onto the back of the car and remained there balanced precariously.
You can see more pictures behind the scenes of the production on the BBC's Eastenders web site.

Channel 4 racing

For 2006 my year started at Sandown Park racecourse to cover the King George stakes for Channel 4 racing produced by Highflyer Digital Ltd.
The main event of year for National hunt racing is still the spectacular Cheltenham Festival meeting. As in recent years Channel 4's coverage was exemplary, despite the freezing wind we all had to endure to bring the coverage to the punters sitting at home in the warm.

Match of the Day

2006 has continued to see me asked to work on Match of the Day for BBC Sport.
I've covered both normal premiership matches as well as FA Cup matches too. I can usually be found on the close up camera near the centre line on the pitchside.

Particularly welcome in the 2006/7 season was the return to the Premiership of Watford football club, my local team. A ten minute journey to work is very welcome when so many jobs are long car journeys away from home.

London Marathon
April, UK

As usual the end of April saw me back at Canary Wharf covering the London Marathon for BBC Outside Broadcasts.
This year I was closer to the action for most of the day. I started the day on the roof of Canada Tower for a weather report and scene set, but then re-rigged the camera down onto a hydraulic hoist (sometimes known by people as a cherry picker) to be able to offer closer shots of the individuals running. It may have been ideal marathon running weather, but the steady rain didn't offer the nicest conditions to work in.

90th Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme
June, France

In June I was privileged to be invited to be a part of the crew that went to Northern France to cover the commemorations of the 90th Anniversary of the start of the battle of the Somme for BBC events.
I was to be part of the crew working at the main centre of events at Thiepval where the Prince of Wales paid official tribute to those who died in the battle of the Somme.
The local countryside is dominated by the 150ft high monument to the missing soldiers designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The site had a particular poignancy for me as amongst the 73,00 lost named on the monument, included was my own grandfather who was lost in the battle, his name is inscribed on one of the massive supporting piers.
Like all major events of this type, camerawork is only part of the day's challenge. It's taken for granted that you will deliver great shots that help tell the story, sensitively and without intruding into individual's private loss.
What may not be so obvious is the care and effort that we all have to go through to liaise with organisers, participants and security staff to ensure we know what is expected to happen so that we can cover it well, how we choreograph movement from one agreed position to another discretely behind the scenes without incurring the wrath of armed security personal and which of the various passes will gain us access to the areas we need to work in. By the time we went on air I was wearing four different passes, had attended several meeting with various officials and must have spoken to at least two dozen people to be sure that I would be able to be in the right place at the right time without trouble.

The Proms
London, August,

Working at The Prom concerts in the Royal Albert Hall each summer has become an annual treat.
Televising live music is always exciting. Often we lack the rehearsal time we would like with the orchestras, so we sometimes have to go on air less well prepared than we would like. However the team behind the scenes of directors, vision mixers, score readers and production assistants who call the shots always rise to the demands of the programme and help us deliver the excellent results viewers expect to see on screen each night.
Amongst the works I covered this year were some from Sibelius, Mendleson, Bernstien, but the undoubted treat was covering Maxim Vengerov's wonderful performance of Mozart's violin concerto.

Other recent work

Whilst it's nice to be able to display some pictures of the programmes I've worked on, it's not always possible. So here a few other programmes I've worked on already this year.

  • Question Time, BBC.
  • Trooping the Colour, BBC.
  • VC/GC commemoration service at Westminster Abbey, BBC.
  • 7th July bombing commemoration service at Regents Park, BBC.
  • The tour of Britain cycle race, BBC.
  • Tianshi conference at Battersea Park for Zest4TV.
  • NHS mental health services conference at Newmarket racecourse for Zest4TV.

Work in 2007

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©Paul Holman 2006