Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Season’s greetings

‘Tis the season to party and here at ITV Local we have been celebrating in style. Here’s a picture of us being very well behaved at the newsroom Christmas party.

Don’t fret though we have shaken off the sore heads and will be bringing you the best in news and features over the festive period. So why not stop by to ITV Local and upload your festive fun to YourNews.

Merry Christmas to everyone in the Meridian and Thames Valley region.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

YourNews launches

Another week and another new channel launch! ITV Local’s brand new viewer video channel, YourNews, is now up and running. What's happening where you live? Bring your town to the world, or have your say on a news story by uploading your clips to YourNews.

Meridian presenter Sangeeta Bhabra was one of the first to try it out. Click here to see her explain how you could be making the headlines.

Plus to help launch YourNews we’re giving you the chance to win £1000 in our Christmas Lights Competition! ITV Local is looking for the most festive town in Britain. Upload your video clips or photos of Christmas lights near you and be in with a chance of winning. Click here for more information.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Harry Redknapp press conference

Portsmouth football manager Harry Redknapp was forced to defend his title today after being arrested in connection with alleged corruption in football.

Luckily for us this top story is in the Meridian region so we were able to upload his entire, unedited press conference to ITV Local.

Click here to watch Pompey’s manager here.

As its big news in the footballing world we will be bringing you all the latest information. Stay tuned to ITV Local for more.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Lewis Hamilton and The Golden Compass

Once again ITV Local is at the forefront of what’s hot in entertainment this month! With special interviews with Lewis Hamilton and a special behind the scenes look at The Golden Compass you can’t go far wrong.

Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton made a pit-stop at ITV Local to sign copies of his new book. Watch our exclusive interview, in which he talks about his celeb status and how he's put 'that' defeat behind him.

Plus; it's expected to be the Christmas blockbuster. The film, The Golden Compass, is based on the novel by Oxford writer Philip Pullman, and stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Thames Valley reporter, Helen James, has been invited behind the scenes to discover some of the CGI secrets behind the fantasy bought to life.

Click here for an exclusive look behind the scenes of Christmas blockbuster.

Remember to stay tuned to our What’s On channel for all the latest entertainment news.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Monkey business

All those who are cute-a-phobic look away now!!

He may have weighed in at just fourteen ounces, but the birth of a new woolly monkey in Dorset is being celebrated across the world. As an endangered species this new addition to the Monkey World sanctuary is big news.

We couldn’t resist this cuddly story so click here to see the extended package and prepare to say, owwwww!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Another busy Friday...

If you'd asked me on Thursday what our main story would be on Friday, I would have told you Remembrance Sunday, no hesitation.

We'd already started to put together a list of all the ceremonies around the region and were prepared to update the site on Sunday with the latest footage... then early on Friday morning we heard of two very different events at sea which threw a spanner in the works.

First, we heard about a big sea search in the Solent after a man was reported overboard from an Isle of Wight ferry. Then, reports came in of a major threat to East Coast towns as a tidal surge was predicted to breach sea defences in Kent and Essex as well as East Anglia.

We managed to get shots of both the Solent search and Kent waves, then the sad news came in that a body had been found off the Isle of Wight and the search had been called off.

Once we'd updated, we now could focus on the tidal surge. Viewer videos and still images came in to us throughout the day via our uploads system, and we were able to pass these onto the South East newsdesk to use in bulletins and Meridian Tonight as well as feature on our front page. You can see a selection of the videos here and some stills here.

Meanwhile, channel assistant Heather, who hadn't planned on working on news that day, pitched in to pull together the Remembrance Sunday material. The whole team - even those not usually concerned with content - helped us out in various ways.

It was a busy day on three fronts, but the effort paid off - we had one of our busiest days EVER in terms of viewer visits.

Never a dull moment here at the coal face....

Friday, 2 November 2007

Emily guest blogs

Hello, I’m Emily Unia, ITV Local’s guest blogger for one day only. I’m the ING trainee for ITV Thames Valley and part of my programme involves getting to know how all the different parts of ITV news fit together.

Sharon, (Head honcho of ITV Local Meridian news) didn’t hesitate in throwing me in at the deep end and by ten thirty this morning, I was participating in the morning conference call, being asked for stories from Thames Valley which would work well on broadband.

Fortunately, there are some interesting stories around today; the Queen is visiting Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. It’s their 70th anniversary this year and the place has gone from strength to strength. It’s the home of Bond and Carry On and it’s where Hitchcock cut his directorial teeth. More recently, the Bourne Ultimatum and the Golden Age have been given the Pinewood treatment. Reporter, Helen James went along to join in the fun and meet Her Majesty click here to see her full report.

Thames Valley Consumer Correspondent, Andrea Benfield, has been looking at firework safety ahead of all the fun and games happening this weekend. She called in the experts at RAF Odiham to demonstrate just how dangerous powerful over-the-counter fireworks can be in a confined space. Sharon and the team were very keen to run Andrea’s feature on the web because it links so nicely to their listings for organised events and safety advice over the coming weekend.

Over at Meridian South East, they’ve got a great story about a 40 –year-old horse, possibly Britain’s oldest...catch the details here.

I could go on and on about all the other great stories ITV Local is running today, but it’s Friday evening and I’m ready to head home to Oxfordshire for a well earned rest and some exciting (but safe) firework fun. I’ve had a great day and I hope to be back soon. Watch this space…

Pink ladies, runners and knights!

Our Local Life channel is bursting with new documentaries from all over the region. Here are just a few highlights:

More than 18,500 people of all ages, shapes and sizes took part in Sunday's Great South Run. If you were one of them, you might spot yourself here.

A day of fundraising saw pink-clad ladies tearing up the streets of Portsmouth in aid of breast cancer services. Click here to watch them ride to Chichester.

Plus living history packs a punch and takes visitors back to Arundel Castle’s early years in a historic re-enactment. Watch Arundel go back to the year 1150 here.

We’ve always got more content coming in so stay tuned for more. Alternatively if you are a filmmaker and feel you can do a better job than the above packages grab your camera and get going! We are always on the hunt for new ITV Local citizen journalists. If you would like to know more send us a short email here.

Friday, 26 October 2007

We're wearing it pink!

We're in the pink at Whiteley today - lots of us are wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness, and not just the girls!

Reception organised the whole pink thing, which included a prize for best-dressed in pink and a raffle. Helen Jacobs, ITV Meridian receptionist, says we've already raised more than £140, which is great going.

The money is going to the Breast Cancer Campaign, and if you'd like to find out more, click on the logo below.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Purrfect partners

Waking up to the sound of Lions roaring is not normal – especially when you are in Kent. However the rural town of Smardon is home to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation’s Marley Farm – a big cat sanctuary which has a multitude of cats from tigers to snow leopards and ocelots. When I heard that they were moving some of the tigers to start a breeding programme I knew I had to be there, camera in hand.

Marley Farm is lucky enough to have a new and spacious breeding centre. Space is the key as the female tiger; Puna in this case, needs room to build dens for her cubs. At Marley Farm three tigers in total were to be moved: Nias and Puna, the happy couple to be, and Indy, Puna’s friend. The reason for breeding is to boost the dwindling numbers of Sumatran tigers – only about 300. There is a hope that if breeding continues then eventually, generations down the line, some tigers can be released in to the wild.

The plan was to start the day early so I went down with a friend and Marley Farm volunteer Briony who had organised for us to stay the night. We slept well – apart from the roaring! For some reason lions feel that they have to roar at dawn and dusk so at 4AM they were up and about. From the short distance from their pen to our snug beds in a mobile home came a very deep, long roar. A very odd feeling!

A few hours later we were all up and ready for the day. More of the volunteers had come to help with the task and Marley Farm was bustling with excited faces. Some of the keepers from the sanctuaries sister, The Paradise Wildlife Park, were also there to lend and hand and to also share expert knowledge in handling the massive creatures.

Nias, a Sumatran male, was the first tiger to be moved. This involved a military style operation. A half ton tiger on the loose is not what you need! Nias was coaxed in to a large metal crate which was expertly sealed and then loaded on to a forklift trunk and carried the short distance to the new centre. Nias arrived perfectly with no problems and took to his new surrounding instantly.

Puna was transferred next and like the first all was well. As it was such a small trip for the animals there was little point in tranquilising them and putting them under unnecessary strain. Puna was a little frightened by the move but as soon as her friend and mentor Indy arrived she soon calmed and relaxed. Indy is known to be a pro mover and wasn’t fazed a bit.

All three animals did very well in the move and their reunion was like no other! We also did some hand feeding with the other animals and were able to get as up and personal with some of natures impressive beasts. I was just lucky enough to capture it all and more for ITV Local. Talk about a day job!

Click here to see the day unfold.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

On the red carpet

This week has been full of more Hollywood exclusives – and it’s still only Wednesday!

Kate Blanchett’s new film Elizabeth the Golden Age premiered in London this week and as much of the film was filmed in Hampshire Meridian news was live on the red carpet. Click here to go behind the scenes of the film set and watch Helen James interview some of the film’s biggest stars.

We also have a very surreal interview with Tom Cruise who stopped to talk with us at the premier of Lions for Lambs. He covers everything from the Spice Girls to Iraq in just 3 minutes – check it out here!

Our What’s On channel is also full with other interviews with Kylie Minogue and Westlife so log on and stay up to date with the latest gossip.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Busy morning

We have been extremely busy this morning with strong stories in all three of our news regions. The tragedy of the parents drowning in Portugal while trying to save their children was a strain on our resources as we didn't have any footage available for most of the morning.

I took the decision to splash the headline without a link early on this morning as it was clearly a lead story for the Thames Valley region with or without pictures. By 11.15am we were able to link to the report on the morning Thames Valley bulletin and then by 12.45pm to reporter Christopher Peacock in Wooten Bassett, where the victims lived.

Breaking news in a video-based service like ITV Local is never an easy task, as we are at the mercy of the cameras out in the field. Sometimes we can be creative with our links though, as in the green cities story (see blog below this one). We used a text link in the absence of any reporter packages - watch out for an update from our reporter Tom Savvides this evening on Meridian Tonight and Thames Valley Tonight at 6pm (online from 6.30pm).

How Green is Your City?

The WWF has published a damning report stating that the city of Winchester has the worst carbon footprint than any in Britain. According to the figures if everyone on Earth lived the same lifestyle as people in Winchester we would need the resources of 3.62 planets to survive.

Click here for the complete results of the WWF report so log on and see where your city features. Alternatively click here to visit the WWF website and calculate just how much C02 your area emits.

Plus what can Winchester do to improve its emissions? Send us your views on the report here.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Lights, camera, action!

It’s been a hive of activity on our Short Film channel this week with new films from independent filmmakers and festivals.

The Oska Bright Film Festival specialises in showcasing films made by disabled people. The annual event held this week was a real success and had some fantastic entries including Dr Dysun; a film about an evil villain bringing a vacuum cleaner to life! Watch it wreak havoc here.

Another of my favourite films uploaded this week is Chicken Soup for the Soul made by students from Portsmouth. Have you ever wondered what would happen to your health if you didn’t laugh for a day? Find out here whether laughing is good for the soul.

If you are a filmmaker and want your masterpiece of appear in lights at ITV Local just email us here to find out more. We are always searching the region for innovative pieces so get involved!

All the films and many more can be viewed here – log on to experience filmmaking with a difference.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Post Office closures in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight

It has been announced that more Post Office branches are facing closure in the Meridian region. Click here for the full list of branches in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

We will be bringing you all the latest news about the closures around the entire Meridian and Thames Valley region so keep logged on.

Also if you feel strongly about the closures you can email us here. We will add all your comments to ITV Local so get in touch and let us know whether you think it’s a good or bad idea.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Bras and pants anyone?

It can be a hard life at ITV Local. Last weekend channel assistant Heather Walker donned her glad rags and wined and dined in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness Week. The annual charity event, The Brighton Ball, was held in honour of the local breast cancer services and had a very peculiar auction to get Brighton’s best spending their money.

Amongst the pink champagne and smooth jazz music stars’ bras and personalities’ pants were on sale for the night! Some lucky supporters got to go away with underwear once belonging to celebs such as Denise Van Outen. It was certainly a night pinker than any!

Watch Heather’s full report of the show here and find out whether she was lucky enough to get her hands on some free goodies…

Monday, 15 October 2007

Leona on Local

British superstar Leona Lewis has taken time out of her busy schedule to talk exclusively to ITV Local.

After working with stars such as Neo and Mariah Carey her album is now ready to hit the airwaves. She tells us all about what influenced the album, her X-Factor win and her plan to conquer America. Watch the interview here and stay tuned to What’s On for more from the hottest music, movies and theatre.

Home grown sporting stars

ITV Local’s newest feature, GrassRoots Sports has now arrived so log on and start uploading now!

GrassRoots is your forum to all the local sporting events from around the country. Click here to see and upload all the latest videos of football, scuba diving, break dancing, adventure training and much, much more. Register as a member and you can also comment and rate on all your favourite videos and start groups of your own.

Here is a little taster of what you can see on GrassRoots Sports.

Join the fun and get involved here.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Something's coming... here's a clue

...check back later in the week when we reveal all!

Jamie Foxx for breakfast

Being given the opportunity to interview A-list celebrities is not to be taken lightly. Even more so when the only other interviews you have done are with local people about local issues; and to be honest they don’t really come under the same category.

So when you get an email cheerfully asking ‘do you want to interview Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner’ you do a double take and think for a few seconds while your brain fills with both excitement and worry. A cheeky smile crosses your face at the same time as you ask ‘what am I going to ask them?!’

Luckily the interviews were only confirmed two days before they were taking place. This meant there was less time for me to worry - I just had to get my head down and plan. It turned out that Jamie Foxx and co-stars Jennifer Garner and Ashraf Barhom were all in London promoting their new film The Kingdom: a fast paced and yet thought provoking action thriller set in Saudi Arabia.

After spending most of Tuesday and Wednesday planning I managed to rush to the cinema for an advanced screening the night before the interviews. The Kingdom is an interesting take on a now common theme – terrorism – and touches on many factors that Hollywood tends to ignore such as how the ‘enemy’ perceive things. It’s well worth a watch if you are stuck for what to see on Orange Wednesday’s.

So planning done I now had only a few hours to panic until judgement day. The interviews, or press junket, took place at the very plush Dorchester Hotel in London. Being my first junket I wasn’t sure of the general order of things went so it was nice to have an ITV Local colleague there for moral support. After being ushered in to the ‘waiting room’ we sat amongst the other journalists, ate free cakes and went over our notes. As we looked around and recognised people from Sky News and GMTV we realised just how big a deal it was. It didn’t help the nerves.

So a few blueberry muffins later and it was my turn. I was whisked away to first meet Ashraf Barhom; an Israeli actor who plays Colonel Faris Al Ghazi in The Kingdom. The interview went surprisingly well and I was very happy with the outcome. Although I only had five minuets with each actor (you have to struggle to understand the floor manager in the background as they hold up fingers indicating how long you have left) is was comfortable and a confidence boost.

What you don’t realise when you see this type of interview on the TV is the amount of other people that are standing in the room at the same time. Jennifer Garner, who plays FBI agent Janet Mayes, stood out perfectly in a bright yellow dress as she sat in a very dark room amongst six other people, two cameras and a multitude of lights and backdrops. She was sweet, polite and an enthusiastic interviewee.

Last of all was Jamie Foxx – the man himself. As much as you try and seem like you have been in that situation before you loose all composure when you walk in to a room and there is an Oscar winning actor/musician/stand-up comic in front of you. Having said that Jamie Foxx was softly spoken and friendly as he spoke about his character Ronald Fleury - it made the interview much easier.

The minutes had sped past and suddenly it was all over – and all before lunch! It was surreal, exciting and definitely the high point of a career that hadn’t started that long ago!

To watch all three interviews click here.

Plus there should be more exclusive interviews from the ITV Local team in the near future so keep logging on to our What’s On channel.