BBC BLOGS - Dan Walker
« Previous | Main | Next »

Bus takes a hit as Ivorians make presence felt

Post categories:

Dan Walker | 16:05 UK time, Thursday, 17 June 2010

The BBC bus is making its way across South Africa and our journey is going very well. We've had a few issues but managed to get everywhere we need to be at the right time.

We started in Cape Town last week and so far have been to the southernmost point of Africa, seen the world's first post box in Mossel Bay, watched some big units in Addo Elephant Park and felt the chill wind in Port Elizabeth.

The bus gets driven around by Roger while the rest of us travel in two little vans. I was in one of those when we got a call about a tyre blowout on our generator while we were on our way to Mossel Bay. We all had to turn back, leaving security guard John and editor Rob to guard the generator for two hours in the rain while searched for new rubber.

Micky, or should that be Ray?

The bus has also suffered some bird damage, with some sort of feathery friend going straight through the windscreen. The ever impressive Roger fixed it with some wood before it was replaced properly. The only man more resourceful then Roger is Micky, our rigger. He can fix anything and is our very own version of MacGyver. He also looks like a combination of Ray Winstone and Sinbad from Brookside.

I have been to many incredible sporting events during my career but it was pretty amazing to be up close and personal with some massive elephants at the Addo Elephant Park.

We were told by our guide, Darlington, who, despite the name, supports Manchester United, that there was very little chance of seeing anything because it was so cold. But we managed to lock horns with five elephants, plenty of zebras and some creatures that looked like antelopes. Maybe they were antelopes.

You should have seen the face of producer Stevie Lyle when he was told there were lions in the park. He spends much of his time in South Africa worrying about shark attacks so the prospect of being lion lunch was enough to bring about a mild panic attack. He sat in the middle of the truck hoping that if there was a hungry maneater around it would use one of the guys nearer the edge as a starter.

We have also seen our first game of the World Cup - Ivory Coast's goalless draw with Portugal. The Ivorian fans were truly amazing. Their football association paid for 100 of them to come to South Africa to support the team - and it is easy to see why. They are only supporters capable of drowning out the vuvuzelas!

Visualise three conductors and an army of singers who bang two pieces of wood together with immaculate timing. Throw in some crazy moves and a bloke in a massive padded suite called 'Papa Elephant' and the result is impressive.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

My job after the match was to do what they call the 'flash' interviews. These take place with the players as they walk off the pitch. They do a 'super flash' with the host broadcaster first and then come down the tunnel.

Each broadcasting team puts their interview requests to the press officers from and hopes for the best. We asked for Didier Drogba, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Carlos Queiroz and Cristiano Ronaldo. We ended up getting the first three, but Ronaldo didn't fancy it.

You get around 90 seconds with each interviewee. After the third question, someone from Fifa usually gives you a poke in the back to let you know it is time to wrap the interview up. If you ask another question, the Fifa person gives you grief because the players have up to four flash interviews and sometimes a press conference as well.

Queiroz was quite keen on talking about Drogba's broken arm and questioning whether Fifa should have allowed him to play at all. Eriksson dismissed that view and started every answer with his trademark "well".

We even managed to grab a word with Eusebio. You will be able to see him talking about the four goals he scored in the quarter-final against North Korea in 1966 next week.

The only downside to being in a stadium city on match day is that all the restaurants are packed. I opted for a trip to the garage given the queues, some an hour long.

The wine gums and muffin were allied to a new culinary sensation for me... the Piemans Pieburger. I asked what was in it and was told a "combination of pie and burger". Stupid question really. It had an interesting taste but is one of the few disappointments of our trip so far.

If there is anything you would like to know about the bus, then please get in touch. You can chart our daily progress by following me on twitter at


  • Comment number 1.

    No comments yet...must be all on twitter, heh?

    Discovering most of you are travelling in vans behind the bus you've just shattered our illusions of you being on a Cliff Richard type 'Summer Holiday'!

    Fantastic of the Ivorian F.A. to pay for some supporters to travel - should be the way all countries operate ;) Lucky they didn't get pulled as an 'ambush' marketing stunt though in those bright orange t-shirts.

    If you speak to Sven again ask him why all his teams have "One half good...the other not so good"..wouldn't go near the S.A. muffin if I was you!

  • Comment number 2.

    Following Dan Walker's report and Alan Shearer's covering the same subject, I would like to pay for a ticket or two so that a someone in the country can go to a match they can't afford. Can you contact me direct with costs etc. please

  • Comment number 3.

    Great blog Dan

    Who else is on the double decker bus? i was under the impression it was like a tour bus U2 might use.

    Do you all sleep on the bus? what is on the bus?

    Gary Kelly U.S.A 1994

  • Comment number 4.


    Garry Kelly = LEGEND

    Great blog as usual dan - do you think you could eat an elephant?

    Robbie Earle

  • Comment number 5.

    Top man, top blog! Hope you enjoy your time in SA. Keep up the good work.

    Peter Ndlovu

  • Comment number 6.

    # 3
    Elephant canbe eaten, but like bear it has to be cooked thoroughly to kill various bactria-bacteria which they can live with, but our GI tract cannot. Elephant hide is great for boots. Elephant tusks are a major no-no (said for benefit of PC moderatoers)

    Missed you these last few days! Nowe I read your blog I can understand why!

    As you know I am a Brit in America. I had great fun watching the England -USA match; primarily b/c I'm Welsh.

    The hour long build up to KO was amateur (Sorry ABC / ESPN). I winced when the viewing audience was told that three Englishmen were 'guests' to provide a balanced presentation;namely, Marting Tyler, Steve McManaman and Ruud Gullet (always refered to as gullet).
    Having said that, by half time the USA broadcast had got at least one thing right; the first ad break came at half time. I don't think that I have watched 45 mins of commercial free TV in my many years in the USA. Judging from other remarks I have heard, ABC / ESPN (both Disney owned) bested ITV on the ads.

    A few reflections on the US commentary of the game. And yes it is with 'wisdom of hindsight' if you want wisdom of hidsight masquerading as perceptive reporting go to Dave 007's blog.

    What did you guys make of the Carragher booking? USA commentator: 'Ohh, that's nothing, you just have to get up to pace int his game. ' Then came the replay and Martin Tyler said the exact opposite. Did you see how JC caught Findley's ankle with his studs, and then he (JC) appeared to swing through with his other leg as if he wanted two bites of hapless Findley. Looked as if Findley did hisbest to get his own back on 73 mins though.
    England are like Arsenal right now: A manager who is expected to be THE difference. Creaking defense; center midfield that blows hot and cold. At least Arsenalhave learnt who their butterfingers is

    And finally Dan, in your last blog, “Wrestling With a Few Home Truths” I think #25 Capetonian was spot on. I will remember the first time I visited a '3rd world or 2.5 world country; initial reaction was similar to yours. Then I got past that and came to what I believe is a more informed response. Now it is off to Haiti in October (DV). Will avoid temptation to write more on this socio-political topic.
    Really leaves just one more thing to say: Long Live Dave Jones and CCFC/

  • Comment number 7.

    I think I'd have a go at a Pieburger.

    Can capello get one (or indeed 11) into the squad?

    Loving the bus updates (or bupdates perhaps...)

    here's to the bitter disappointment on Wednesday

    Peter Beardsley

  • Comment number 8.

    Afternoon. I knew this blog would pass under the radar with England playing so woefully last night in Cape Town.

    Spectacularly poor really. I hope you are enjoying the bus so far. We are live at the Zenzele Orphanage in Finetown later.

    Incredible story. Join us for that if you can at half time in the Ghana v Australia match on BBC1.

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    To answer the question... these are the people on the bus:

    We've got Matt in charge, a producer, a cameraman, a rigger, a driver, a satellite technician, 3 security dudes, an editor, Paul Fletcher from the website, Colin Paterson from 5 Live, 2 presenters and our wonderful South African fixer Jo.

    See you soon

    Tony Daley

  • Comment number 9.

    You know what Dan...I was thinking you guys on the bus were being a little hard done by with all the travelling about you have to do - while the likes of the main studio guests are no doubt put up in the best hotels...but you know what - I think you've actually got the better end of the deal - because your stories highlight the more important things in life like plight of the kids at the Zenzele Orphanage later on today and the H.I.V. and educational problems you experienced in the townships - it just put all of us moaning about an over paid football team into proper perspective and deserves much more air time.

    What do the locals make of the bus, your coverage and do they think the World Cup will improve things for them when you all go home? What do they think of the hysteria that greeted England's draw back home/do they know about it when they face such real problems every day..often with a smile on their faces?

  • Comment number 10.

    #9 says you have the better deal, getting out and seeing the other side of SA life, rather being put up in best hotels.
    Shame all the world outside the UK cannot go to these places with you. I hope your visit to the Zenzele Orphanage is a benefit to you and them; even if not to us in USA.

    So a fan tried to break into the dressing room. Apparently he was unable to 'break out' of the stadium during the game because the entrances were blocked with fans on their way out, so he figured the players and the Princes must have their own entrance and exit. Rumour has it he, had almost found freedom via the players changing room exit, but got a bit cross when he discovered that the players thought they were Princes; the gripes about the lack of loyalty reflected this delusion of royal grandeur. (David James excepted)
    Keep up the bloggs Dan!!

  • Comment number 11.

    I've really enjoyed watching the Great White Bus exploits.
    I especially liked your piece from Addo Elephant park. I visited there three years ago, and saw so many elephants that day, one even came up to our minibus, looked in, ate for a bit, wandered round. Fantastic place, along with Plettenberg Bay and Capetown, the other point on my journey, am getting nostalgic watching your reports.
    Hope you're having fun out there!

  • Comment number 12.

    Ivory Coast played attractive football against Portugal, Brazil and North Korea. It's a pity that Sven and his boys could not make the QFs. 'Papa Elephant' and his cheer leaders will be missed. Nice blog Dan.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 13.



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.