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"Is it an offence to undress in the desert?"

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F1 Mole | 10:56 UK time, Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Mole joined the BBC's Formula 1 presenter Jake Humphrey on a trip into the wilds of the Bahrain desert to find out how he plans to bring a flavour of the kingdom to the small screen on Sunday.

Think Humphrey of Norfolk meets Lawrence of Arabia...

Sand covers a huge 92% of the island of Bahrain and so with cameraman Mat, producer Sarah and the Mole on their tail, that is the environment into which Jake and his expedition crew headed.

After driving for a half an hour south from the capital of Manama, the pale gold landscape soon began to stretch away into the distance.

Clouds of sand and construction dust clustered in the sunlight as we headed down the King Hamad Highway.

On past the oil derricks, which tipped their arms as they sucked the oil from the sand, on past the military base and the prisoners breaking rocks at the Jau prison, on, on into the desert.


Eventually the producer and cameraman spied the perfect first location; a remote patch of rolling dunes; the cue for Jake to change into his broadcast outfit behind the back of the car.

"Is it an offence to undress in the desert?" he wondered, as a military truck slowly trundled past.

The idea behind the opening sequence is to entwine the atmosphere and geography of each stop on the F1 calendar and the story of the action on the track.

Jake writes the scripts for the opening links before going out with a crew to film them, and in Bahrain three different locations were chosen.

For the first segment, Mat crouched low in the sand to catch glimpses of Jake as he walked through the undulating dunes.

Dressed in a long sleeved shirt, black trousers and leather shoes, Jake breathed hard in the 29C heat and unrelenting midday sun.

Next stop was Bahrain's Tree of Life, a 400-year-old mesquite tree that is considered a natural wonder because it draws its water from a mysterious source.

The trick here was to show the tree's lone location with Jake delivering his piece to camera in the foreground and that relied on Mat and Sarah's finding just the right perspective.

As the sun began to wane, Jake delivered his final lines at the final location, silhouetted against a backdrop of the desert flatlands.

With the links done, the next job was to make sure the sequence has colour and depth by filming general views of the desert - known as GVs in television speak.

With the material in the can, it was time to leave the desert for dust.

The tapes were delivered back to BBC HQ at the Sakhir circuit where Sarah sat down with Matt # 2 - the features editor - to select the shots and conjure the final version.

Editing is the longest process and it could take up to half a day to add the finishing touches to the opener.

To see the end result, watch Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix on BBC 1 from 12 noon (BST) on the dot and read more on Jake's blog over the weekend.


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