In many ways, making TV shows can be a lot like any other office job - IT problems, mad bosses, hot-desking etc. Sometimes it’s not. One day I was called in to help solve a murder.
I was about half way through making season 3 of 'What On Earth?' when I got an e mail from the Discovery Channel. They’d been contacted by a Michigan Sheriff who wanted assistance in a homicide investigation. He’d seen the show and it gave him the idea satellite imagery might be able to help with the case.
So, Discovery put him in touch with me, which was kind of mad, but also the only thing they could do in the circumstances, because their viewer relations department is even less qualified than me to help with a murder case.
I spoke to the guy and found out he wanted to use satellite imagery to place a suspect's car at or near the scene of the crime. It was terrifying and exciting to be asked. I was torn. I am absolutely unqualified to assist in criminal cases, but this guy didn't know where else to turn. So, I gave him the basics of how satellite imaging works, explained his chances of getting a useful image at the right time were low, and pointed him towards real experts. I don’t think his department had the money to pay for them TBH.
I never found out how the case resolved. I really wanted to ask for details, but I held back, because the guy was desperate, and might have told me things that should have remained confidential. Perhaps I was being over cautious, but y'know, it was an actual real-life murder.