I’ve just returned from Senegal, where I was involved in filming a feature for Sky Sports on African qualification for the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
Dakar is a humbling city; two million buzzing people going about their business, the very poor living alongside the incredibly wealthy.
Our biggest problem was actually getting local faces on film.
In the UK, people love being on camera. If I’m ever filming in Portsmouth, it takes about 11 seconds before a toothless gurner shimmies up to the lens and shouts: ‘Hello mum, it’s me’.
They don’t have a clue why we’re filming or for which channel, yet they’re convinced that their mum will be entertained by their cameo appearance.
In the past 10 years reality TV shows have made unfathomable fortunes from talentless chancers who just want to be on television.
Start the camera up and there is a queue of hopefuls who believe that mooching aimlessly in front of the lens will gift them a ticket to the promised land.
Senegal was worlds apart. People genuinely believe that having their photo taken or being filmed actually removes part of their soul.
They see a camera and run…fast.
Our director had specifically asked for some nice atmosphere shots of the Senegalese going about their daily lives – market stalls, rush hour etc.
Trying our luck, on one occasion a group of men rushed us shouting and waving their fists.
Luckily our fixer persuaded them that we were actually filming the roaming wild goats.
By keeping our distance, we managed to find some middle ground and even captured a few shy smirks.
One particular character caught my eye. In a shady, bustling market, with temperatures hitting 35 and humidity intense enough to make one’s eyeballs sweat, a trader was tirelessly convincing me to buy a Lions of Taranga (Senegal’s national team) t-shirt for my son.
I thought the man was a charlatan – until I clocked the pristine Admiral Pompey 1997 shirt that he was wearing.