Monday, 3 September 2012

Life Imitates Art . . . ?

In one of those weird coincidences, having just posted about the Channel 5 TV series 'Emergency Bikers', having met two of the Birmingham paramedics, a few days ago I became a 'background' extra in a scene (assuming I don't end on the cutting room floor . . . ).  It was also an interesting behind-the-scenes insight into the world of television and, in particular, 'reality TV'.

As anyone who's read Ben Elton's 'Dead Famous' will know, what happens on TV (for the viewer) isn't what happens in front of the camera - it's what the producers and directors decide to let us see. 
My latest bruch with reality TV happened at Mawgan Porth, a small seaside resort in Cornwall, which is about half-way between Newquay and Padstow.  There's not a lot there (one of its main attractions!) apart from (when the tide's out) a vast, sandy, beach.

The approach from either North or South is via steep, winding roads.  The sort where a vehicle with a siren spreads its noise across the whole valley.  In this case a paramedic bike leading a paramedic 4x4 down the hill from the 'Newquay' direction - about from where this view was taken:

View Larger Map

Note, to the right, a narrow bridge with parking just beyond.  Then look to the far left, the lowest cliffs and the most distant white houses.  NB - this is an 'active' image, so clicking/dragging/scrolling etc. will change what you see!

So, everyone on the beach hears the siren, some (like me) look around to see what's arriving, and see bike + 4x4 descending the hill.  They go out of view as they reach the bridge.  We think nothing more of it.  A couple of minutes later, the 4x4 is thundering across the beach.  Well, not strictly true, it was actually going carefully, pciking its way between the 'dunes' [exaggeration] and puddles left by the ebbing tide (the sea is about 1/3 mile out by now).  The 4x4 heads off to the far side of the beach (as described ^ ), where an uneven set of steps descend to the beach - and where the lifeguards truck is parked with its amber beacons flashing.

But now here's the 'TV' bit.  Several minutes later, trudging in full bike leathers and hi-viz, carrying two pannier liner bags of kit, comes the paramedic - in this case Sarah Watson, led by the cameraman leapfrogging to get shots and accompanied (out off shot) by the producer scribbling notes, past all the holidaying members of the public sunning themselves on the beach in August sunshine (really!). 

At least they didn't make her walk back again!

We'll have to wait for the next series to be aired to find out whether a lazing Palmer hits the screen :)


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