Presenting at the BBC

I am thrilled to have received a phone call yesterday to congratulate me on my success on getting through to a place on a top quality presenting course run by the BBC.

A few months a go, at the beginning of 2012 in fact, I was advised to go for a presenters course that would be sponsored by the BBC to seek new presenters. This presumably was an equal opportunities initiative and aimed at disabled people. I was very hesitant about applying at first because although I suppose technically I am disabled by the fact that I have had to loose an eye and have no vision on my left side (and as a result do occasionally bump into little old ladies in Morrisons) I didn’t feel terribly unable to work normally.

However, I got in touch with the department running the scheme and asked them if they thought I qualified and they said yes, absolutely. At the end of the day, the BBC and the license payer want great presenters and often the smallest disability can put interviewees off from taking part or putting themselves forward. This is an opportunity for anyone with something ‘different’ to proudly say I would like to have a chance.

I had to send a detailed email about myself, likes, hobbies, work experience and background and a short video of myself presenting something. Naturally I sent a clip from the Bald Explorer. It must have worked because I was then shortlisted for an audition.

Last month I nervously travelled up to London to the Wood Lane digital city buildings and presented myself to the people running the auditions. As soon as I entered the building I was became, calm, totally relaxed and very confident. I was warmly welcomed by all the staff and flew through the audition.

I confess I was totally in my element. I felt so at home in the BBC studio with the commissioning editors and other senior executives watching me. They viewed a few pieces I had to do to camera, and although I cocked on of them up, I carried on as if it were ‘live’ and found my place in the script and rattled on to the end. Thanks to endless Vobes Show podcasts for that I am sure. After the performing came the questions and answers, which again I felt most comfortable with and demonstrated my passion for the medium of television and the genre of history and heritage. It was fabulous fun.

Something must have worked as yesterday I received a call from one of the executives informing me that I had been selected and had a place with nine others on this professional and highly rated presenters course. More details to come after Easter apparently, but in the meantime I am dancing on air.

Episode 4 – Update Video

I am upon Caer Caradoc filming a sunset for the next episode of the Bald Explorer which is about the Welsh Marches. I recored a very short little update of the progress and included a few shots of the magnificent view. More to follow as I start the filming process of this episode. I hope you will keep watching and enjoy the final production. I will be in Shropshire and Herefordshire in search of the legendary British hero Caratacus.

Profile: Film Maker at Hopston Castle

I was delighted to discover as part of my research into my next project on the Welsh Marches that another heritage film maker has visited and made a very good documentary about Hopton Castle. This is one of the places I am currently seeking permission to film for the next episode.

Peter Ralley is a professional photographer and former headteacher. He obviously has a passion for history, like myself, and his website is full of wonderful videos about the past. Peter works mainly in the community and heritage sector which to me makes him stand out of the crowd because there are so few film makers out there passionately making features about our history.

What I also admire is the way he has the whole family involved in the production of his work and it is very similar to how I work with my daughter Georgie, (camera woman) and friends and colleagues assisting in the film making process.

Do check out his recent film at Hopton Castle if you get a chance and visit his website for further information:
Rali Studio

Caracticus Last Stand

Clunbury Hill, where Caracticus's brother and a small division of men were on lookout duty just before the battle.
The next Bald Explorer is slowly coming together. After much reading about the Welsh Marches and the Norman Invasion, the raids from the Welsh and the building of Offa’s Dyke by the Saxon King, I am examining the potential site of Caracticus’s last stand.

No one really can say for sure where the ancient Briton Chieftain met his final defeat, but Lt-Colonel Alfred H. Burne DSO writing in the 1950’s made a jolly good stab at it. In his excellent book, More Battlefields of Britain, where he puts forward his theory of Inherent Military Probability, (or I.M.P) he sites both Caer Caradoc hillforts as being part of the story.

A view to the advanced look out post Caer Caradoc from Camp Caradoc, some 15 miles away.

His concept of I.M.P is where he takes all the known facts of a particular battle, landscapes and fighting equipment and then simply places his shoes into those of the commanders of the day and uses his overall knowledge of engaging an enemy to find a solution. As he states in his book, he asks himself, what would he do given the situation.

You could argue that with a 20th century education and experience in modern world warfare it might skew his judgement, but as he explains, the landscape is the same, the cunning skills required are identical and the basic tactics of using the local terrain to ones advantage haven’t really changed.

The result is a compelling argument for plausible locations of battles and until there are better theories then I see no reason not to follow this reasoning. Either way, it all makes for a rather interesting programme.

My aim is to explore this landscape, tell the story and hopefully even fly around the battle sites in a microlight and point out key areas from above. I do hope you will enjoy this first part of hopefully several explorations of the Welsh Marches as much as I have enjoyed researching and soon to be filming them!

Podcast: Camp Caradoc

Harriet and I headed out to investigate the other Caer Caradoc in South Shropshire. Locally this iron age hill fort is known as Camp Caracticus or Camp Caradoc. It is a wonderful example of such an ancient encampment and many people believe that this is the position of the last stand that the Chieftain Caracticus held against the Romans after they invaded nearly two thousand years ago.

A view from Camp Caradoc to the other hill called Caer Caradoc

It was in AD51 that the Romans managed to defeat and capture this defiant ancient Briton and his tribe of fearless fighting men. He was taken back to Rome and paraded about in triumph as he had evaded capture for seven years and caused much trouble for their invasion plans.

There are many places that also claim to be the last fighting place of this heroic figure, but there is more evidence for believing that this is was the camp used by the ancient Britons. The actual battle itself is thought to have taken place a little to the west of this point because no defender would want to be stuck on a top of a hill that could easily be surrounded.

A view across the South Shropshire Hills from the iron age hill fort.

Have a listen to the podcast as we head out to this important historical monument and explore its potential for the filming in the next Bald Explorer video about the Welsh Marches. I will be looking at the battle and the theories in more details as I begin a series of films about the boarder landed between England and Wales.

Download as Podcast.

A Trip to Cardiff Castle

Where possible I try to visit places I might not otherwise get to see when out working. The other day I had a few hours to kill in between some film making I was doing for a client of mine and I took the opportunity to have a visit to Cardiff Castle. I decided I would take the more expensive option and have the guide tour which set me back £14 which at the time I considered quite expensive, but most likely give me the best experience of the castle and grounds.

Cardiff Castle is an impressive building, particularly on the outside as the wall is massive and wraps itself around a large area right in the centre of the city. You cannot avoid the dominant crenelations as you drive or walk around around the city and the entrance tower is spectacular and definitely draws you in. What I didn’t appreciate though was that most of what you see is actually Victorian and not all that old. The oldest part of the castle is the Motte, the mound that the 14th century keep stands on. There are bits and piece of the original Roman fort and some elements of the Norman wall, although not really enough to get terrible excited out. The old shell of a keep on the motte dates from 14th century, which is pretty old and very impressive and you can access it and climb the stairs to the top. However, it is only a shell and there is not a lot to show you exactly how it might have looked or to inspire you as to how it was used by the Norman barons.

The main house as I mentioned is mainly Victorian and although very ornate with lust decorations, it sports a 19th Century view of the middle ages which I found curious but not really helpful to someone who is interested in the medieval period. The guided tour was only limited to the house and although the chap was very knowledgeable, you really got the sense he was going through the motions and didn’t really engage with the audience. I wanted to ask many questions, but he was constantly checking his watch and I felt pushed along.

All in all, I think there many things missing from the experience at Cardiff Castle and I do believe that the cost of entrance is far too excessive.