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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

On the Road for the local elections

Renton looking through the bakers window in Dundee  Pic: Nicola Blackmore

I have spent the first quarter of this year on the road filming for BBC Newsnight Scotland in: Cornwall, Corby, Whitehaven and the Isle of Man. The first three films were all looking at the forthcoming independence referendum here in Scotland. The idea was to understand what our neighbours south of the border thought about the independence proposal.  The Isle of Man voyage was to examine if their small island in the middle of the Irish sea was a good illustration of "Devo max" (which means more power, but not full independence) 
I had just completed these films and after a break, I was straight into covering the local elections.
I regularly work with Nicola as my camera and picture editor, so we sat down with the Newsnight Scotland editor to see what cunning plan he had up his sleeve for us.
He sat us down outside the newsroom at one of the long meeting tables.  “I want you folks to hit the road again travelling to four different parts of Scotland.”  He continued. “I want you to make them interesting, amusing and give me plenty of colour from each area.” deep breaths were taken at this point. Despite shuffilling in our seats and some twitching from us, he ploughed on regardless. “Oh yes I don’t want to hear from councillors or have some dull profiles. Give me real people.” 
So our quest had begun, but where to start and how the hell do we make the local elections interesting, never mind amusing. Couldn’t we find and slay a dragon instead?  
The plan was not too organise too much in advance. It was more the case of turn up in a designated area and see what stories we could get. This can work very well, but it can also go horribly wrong  - what if we get there only to discover everyone in the town has a bad doze of shyness.  So as insurance, I made a few calls to get some names and numbers just encase…
Dundee Sky line at dusk Pic by Nicola Blackmore

We decided the first of our locations would be Dundee. A city I’ve known well, off and on over the last thirty years.  The main training centre for Guide Dogs is not far away being in Forfar, and I have been there being trained with quite a number of my guide dogs.  Over those years Dundee has gone through some remarkable changes. It’s gone from a post industrial city, to one of the most creative cities in Scotland. It still has it’s problems with unemployment, but what a remarkable turn around. With the new V&A museum being built, even more transformations are coming. I talked to a lot of people and without exception all were very proud, but not in a delusional way, people were  honest and pragmatic.

Bunty & Bella showing Ian how to make felt balls...over a cup of tea and slice of cake! pic by N. Blackmore
We spent two days filming everything that moved and a few things that didn’t. I also took part in the strangest craft workshop ever with a lovely group of women from three generations.  They showed me how to make balls from felt. [I could do a gag here about having felt balls, but I shall restrain myself.] 

The film has been completed, so barring any news disasters the film should go out this week on BBC 2 Newsnight Scotland at 11:00pm 

If you want to know when the films will be on you can  follow me on twitter @ihamiltonbbc or @newsnightscot 


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