Ground Control (to PD Tom!)

by Joanna Manley, Production Coordinator, Jungles/Oceans team

Being the Production Coordinator on the Jungles and Oceans team means I’m responsible for sending Tom, Charlotte, Willow and Rachael to Jungles and Oceans all over the world.  I seem to be in a constant state of organised chaos and even though I get left behind with the damp life jackets and lingering smell of the Jungle whilst the team flies off to the next amazing destination, I love my job and my team. 

This is me testing out a poncho before it leaves on location

I have several time zones set on my phone which I continuously update as teams leave, come back, move on and go out again.  It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of where everyone is and invariably they all phone at the same time (usually just as I’m trying to get some lunch!) needing a new camera, flights changed or just someone back in reality to talk to when they’re in the middle of a wet jungle with broken kit and infected feet!

On Human Planet we’re often dependent on people and animals being the same place at the same time when the conditions are right.  This is how not to do it….

We had;

Jon in Indonesia trying to film a Whale Hunt close to two earthquakes

Charlotte trying to film a shark whilst there was a tsunami warning for the area

Willow in Bristol trying to track Hurricanes to film in the Caribbean and there weren’t any

Tom and Rachael leaving for the Philippines to live on a boat for 7 days in the midst of the worst typhoon season the Philippines have seen in years.

How typical!

Rolling up a thermarest bed roll amongst the pre-shoot chaos

With so many shoots going off and coming back and with heaps of kit needed, our office has got a reputation for a being a bit of a muddle.  Danny who delivers post to our office says he has nightmares about it and grumbles it’s like an assault course trying to get from one side of the room to the other.  To be honest he’s right, especially as there is a camouflage theme to a lot of the objects such as hammocks, tarps, tents and thermarests.  We’ve got wetsuits and life jackets hanging off the back of the door, waterproof bags and jungle ponchos in a heap behind my desk with a solar shower perched on top and on Tom’s desk at the moment is a pile of coconut shells used to call sharks in Papua New Guinea. 

My two sets of desk drawers are filled with all sorts of things not usually found in an office drawer…

 Muddy batteries from the jungle

Leaking bottles of anti mosquito repellent 

 Boxes of antibacterial hand wash  

A box of latex gloves for covering radio mics

Several dead Central African Republic bees 

A tangle of 4 way plug adaptors and extension leads

The contents of my drawers

 I’ve got a heap of tapes, gaffer tape and loose cable ties all over my desk and a pair of size 12 flippers along with three Mauritanian jilbabs the team wore whilst filming in Mauritania to the side of my drawers.

 Even though I don’t get to see the places we’re filming in person I get a good idea of what’s it like there even before I see the footage.  From the smells emerging from their kit bags when they get back, to the sound of pouring rain and bugs I hear in the background when I’m talking to them on the Satellite phone.

You need a sense of humour in this job! Here I'm wearing wooden goggles from Bajau divers and a lifejacket, next to some shark-calling coconuts

  Our next shoot is going off to Brazil on 8th January so we’re battling through our Christmas party hangovers to get everything packed up and ready so we can take a much needed break before another crazy year on Human Planet starts!

2 Responses to “Ground Control (to PD Tom!)”

  1. yogi extraordinaire says:

    Please can I have those size 12 flippers when you’re done with them? And the goggles…

  2. Your brother in india... says:

    hahaha you wern’t kidding those photos are ridiculous. Good work sis.
    Your office looks a bit like your house btw…

    Is the show finished yet or what?

This website is made by BBC Worldwide

More from BBC Worldwide