Wednesday 16 July 2014, 11:46
The plan was to fly from Florida to California, looking at the science of the skies.
But as well as scientists, there were plenty of other people on the team including three pilots, a ground crew of 14 that followed the airship by road and a full production team including two camera crews.
Not everyone could be on board at once – the airship would never have got off the ground!
But I was really fortunate to spend a lot of time on board and flew most of the way across the continent.
Exploring in three dimensions rather than being limited to making observations from the ground was a revelation to me.
The clouds in the tropics around the Gulf of Mexico are huge, and being in the sky with them really brought home the vast scale of the forces at work.Towering cumulus cloud in Florida
They are dense and heavy...
Tuesday 15 July 2014, 09:15
In addition to being hugely chatty creatures, scent also plays a key role in mongoose life. It actually allows them to identify each other.
They live in tight gangs - extended family units with distinct boundaries between rival territories.
One of the experiments that didn’t make it into the show tested the importance of scent in maintaining these boundaries and involved me standing in a mongoose latrine in the fierce midday sun collecting a bucket of fresh poop.
After a few minutes the mongooses themselves turned up en masse catching me red handed with a scoop of their poop in my hand.
They all stood up and looked at me as if I was nuts. Which was fair enough, I felt decidedly awkward being busted for such a peculiar theft.
I took the mongoose poo and dumped it in the middle of their neighbours’ territory.
The result was a frenzy of sniffing and chattering that suggested that scent is clearly very important for communicating an enemy invasion.
I discovered that the...
Monday 14 July 2014, 12:45
The Honourable Woman is an epic eight-part BBC Two drama starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as powerful businesswoman and philanthropist Nessa Stein, daughter of the late Israeli arms procurer Eli Stein. Newly enobled into the House of Lords, she is rocked by the mysterious death of a business contact and a kidnapping.
My role for The Honourable Woman was as special effects supervisor.
I work as a supervisor for live action special effects, this means that we provide all the special effects that are actually shot at the time the scenes are acted out and filmed with the camera, as opposed to generating and compositing stunts and effects with a computer.
The benefit of live action special effects for the actors and the director is that they have something to interact with when playing out scenes.
One of the effects I was asked to provide was for the scene where Ephra Stein (Andrew Buchan) and his wife Rachel Stein (Katherine Parkinson) are at a gala function and a protestor smashes a bag on the table covering them in fake blood.
The requirements were for a vessel containing...
Monday 16 June 2014, 08:04
Iconic comedian and actor Rik Mayall passed away age 56 on Monday, 9 June 2014. In an interview on The Stephen Nolan Show, television producer Paul Jackson looked back on what it was like working with him on shows like The Young Ones and Filthy Rich & Catflap, and recalled five major comic characters Rik created that have left a lasting impression on audiences:
The sketch show gave exposure to Rik Mayall's Redditch-based reporter and lead to a one-off mockumentary...
Tuesday 27 May 2014, 06:30
When I announced I was off to Rio de Janeiro to film Welcome To Rio for several months, the reaction of my friends and family was a universal cry: “You lucky b------!”
“But look out for the favelas. They’re crazily violent.”
Favelas are the flipside of the Rio legend, the city’s infamous slums whose residents have forever been characterised by the 2002 feature film, City Of God, as a pack of smoked-out teenagers pointing their guns in our faces.
That's why the favelas...
Thursday 22 May 2014, 10:36
To then open it and immediately have a personal connection to the events was unbelievable.
In 1996 I was living in Manchester training as a director with Granada TV and was walking towards the Arndale Centre when the IRA bomb went off.
I vividly remember suddenly being knocked off my feet, staring up at a beautiful blue sky and the complete silence all around, immediately followed by...
Friday 9 May 2014, 14:11
You don’t have to go back 500 years to find those who doubt women’s artistic capacity.
Whilst much has changed in the last five centuries, certain opinions seem to have evolved very little.
This is not, however, a series about critics. Nor is it a sorrowful tale of downtrodden women, victims of gender and circumstance.
Instead, we discover a long line of artists – painters, sculptors...
Wednesday 7 May 2014, 12:04
If you work as a curator, as I do, at Hampton Court, you sometimes wonder if there might be more to life than Henry VIII.
Of course, he’s our biggest character at Hampton Court, and always will be.
But after our re-display of the Tudor palace in 2009, which was the 500-year anniversary of Henry VIII’s coming to the throne, I began to think it was time we turned our attention to the other, Georgian, half of the building.
It is just as extensive and impressive as the Tudor part but much less familiar.
My colleagues and I at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which looks after Hampton Court, decided...
Friday 2 May 2014, 11:09
I prepared for series two slightly differently in that the second series kicks off nine months after the first, so I had to think about what Kieren’s life had been like in the months in between.
He feels lost and lonely. Again.
Only this time he's not seeking a way out of living, he's looking to somehow start a new life.Kieren (Luke Newberry) and Amy (Emily Bevan): Is Kieren doing the right thing by...
Thursday 1 May 2014, 11:29
We were lucky to have a year to film Protecting Our Parents.
It didn’t always feel it during the long winter months, late nights and early mornings my team from BBC Bristol’s documentary department spent in the busy elderly care wards of Heartlands Hospital Birmingham.
But we came to realise that time is a precious commodity across an elderly care system swelled by our nation’s rapidly ageing population.
Protecting Our Parents is a documentary series about all of us: our parents, grandparents and the many health and social care professionals that look after them as they get older, and will...