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.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

David Cameron logs on and speaks up

At ITV Local we’re all about bringing stories closer to the people – and the people closer to the stories. So it was great this week to have our site at the centre of political debate at the Tory conference.

Our political correspondent Sally Mules stopped by David Cameron’s office in Blackpool with her laptop – but it was ITV Local viewers who asked the questions. Sally logged into ITV Local Thames Valley and played video of viewer’s questions to directly to the Leader of the Opposition. You can see the questions and David Cameron’s answers here:

It’s great being able to put people’s questions, in their own words, direct to our politicians. Expect more of this from ITV Local during the election campaign, which looks like starting any day now…

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Post Offices to close

The Post Office has announced that a total of 58 branches are to close in Kent. It is the start of nationwide campaign aimed at cutting costs.

You can view a list of 58 post offices here at ITV Local. Plus send us all your comments and responses to the closures here.

Monday, 1 October 2007

It's written in the stars

This week we have been glued to the screen of our brand new horoscope channel! The much loved astrologer Russell Grant has returned in style to bring daily, weekly and monthly predictions for all signs of the zodiac.

Will Jupiter’s alignment with Mars create sparks in your love life or make you think twice about a career move? Will your stars spell financial changes or mean you have to build on personal relationships? Russell has all the answers exclusive to ITV Local!

Also Russell gives us more nuggets of information in his Star Guide. Find out about the history of astrology and how the elements - fire, water, air and earth – shape your star sign.

Click here to see what October will bring you and learn more about astrology.