Extreme weather last weekend wreaked the usual kind of havoc on Britain’s roads, but in the end was no match for the resilience of one heavily pregnant regional television producer, her cameraman and the power of the mobile phone.
Being trapped in the snow on the M11 motorway for 16 hours “with nothing but muesli bars and Tic Tacs”, would have tested the fittest of individuals.
But for Carlton TV producer Charlotte Lamont, who is expecting a baby in three months’ time, this was an extra burden she could have done without.
Lamont and her cameraman were returning to Nottingham from filming in Bexhill-on-Sea at around 7pm last Thursday evening.
By the time they reached the M11 half an hour later, it was gridlocked from heavy snowfall, and was to remain in that state for the next seven hours.
“At 10pm I called my husband [Central East news editor Peter Lamont] who was on early shifts the next day, to tell him I expected to get in at around 2 or 3am,” Lamont told Press Gazette this week. “But when he called at around midnight, we still hadn’t moved.”
Meanwhile, husband Peter, who was responsible for weather coverage over the period, had to tread a fine line between the worried expectant father and consummate TV journalist.
“So when I spoke to Peter again at 5.30am, he asked me: ‘Is there any chance you can knock me off a few vox pops while you’re out there?'”
Lamont duly got out of the car with her cameraman and filmed various people caught up in the traffic jam. She also made a video diary of her experience, having resigned herself to being there for longer than earlier anticipated.
“It was quite a panicky situation, really. People started unscrewing the barrier of the central reservation and driving their vehicles back the other way. It was a real mess, but I tried to keep calm, with the baby.”
Soon, the rest of the media became aware of her location and she conducted phone interviews with Central News, ITN and the Daily Mail, from the car.
The traffic finally began moving at 1pm, and Lamont arrived at the Central East newsroom at 4.30pm – 21 hours after she set off from Bexhill-on-Sea the previous day.
By Wale Azeez