Part of the business of TV news is filming interviews out in the open with expert sources. And part of that experience of filming is dealing with potential interruptions: rough weather, stray passersby or, often, disruptive protesters.
This head-to-head pairing of a camera operator and professional Welsh protester Steve Bray became something of a sensation after viewers noted the calm expertise with which the behind-the-scenes BBC News staff, the on-camera talent and the protester himself maneuvered the situation to each of their advantages.
In the clip, European policy researcher Georgina Wright is discussing the latest developments on the Brexit draft agreement. Behind her, Bray wields two double-sided signs (“Save the NHS,” “Stop the Brexit Mess” and “Things have changed it’s time to reassess” are some of the visible slogans). When the camera has a wide shot, he appears between Wright and the BBC interviewer, in plain view. When the camera switches to a zoom shot of just Wright, he moves directly behind her, framing her head with his signs.
As journalist Simon Ricketts noted on his tweet about the clip, “the scene becomes a beautifully British cat and mouse game that speeds up perfectly.” Another reporter called it a “lesson in dogged persistence.” Over the course of a minute, the cuts from wide to zoom become quicker and quicker, while Bray matches the pace and crashes each shot with determination. It’s a masterful work of protest — but let’s not forget that Wright and the BBC reporter (and the film crew) all managed to keep straight faces throughout the encounter.
For his part Bray, who is reportedly a rare coin dealer, has been regularly protesting Brexit for over a year now.
Wright, meanwhile, would prefer we listen to her analysis of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.