A scuba diver has told how he recovered vital footage of the new series of The X Factor after answering an SOS call from producers to retrieve a video camera from the Thames.
John Forbath was called in after a remote-controlled helicam malfunctioned as it filmed hopefuls queuing to audition for the hit ITV talent show at the ExCeL centre in Docklands. The helicam was deliberately crashed into the water to avoid injuring those in the queue.
“We’re more used to retrieving things like wedding rings that people have dropped, so this was a surprise,” said the Londoner, who owns the Big Squid scuba diving company in Clapham and is regularly called out to retrieve submerged items.
“The camera was attached to a remote-controlled helicopter — the helicopter floated to the top and they managed to fish that out. But the camera had sunk and they had even bought a catfish net to try and get it out.” The £20,000 camera system had been shooting footage on a memory card for the forthcoming series of The X Factor, which will be screened this autumn.
The helicopter’s operator crashed it into the water on Saturday morning, but X Factor producers did not call Mr Forbath until 2.30pm, after their own rescue efforts failed.
“I told them I couldn’t make it until the next day, so they said, ‘What are your rates? We’ll double them’,” he said. “I got there straight away and we did two dives. The first time I went down, I couldn’t see anything at all, so for the second we dropped a line down with a weight on the end so I had a reference to use when I was at the bottom.
“I got it straight away on the second dive — I think luck played a big part. They were very happy when it came back up.”
A spokesman for the X Factor said: “Thankfully, we were able to save all of the footage from the camera. After the helicam broke, the cameraman steered it over the Thames to avoid it crashing into the crowds waiting to audition.
“No one was hurt and we managed to get a diver to fish the camera out of the river.”
Source: The London Evening Standard