EIRINI NIKOLOPOULOU
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
MEGA CHANNEL
I arrived at Mega Channel from ERT ready, absolutely ready for anything!

I knew about television, I knew about television journalism and about editing, about breakfast TV and interviewing, about overseas missions and endless nights reporting on the sick Papandreou, the sick Vougiouklaki, Karamanlis, the 2nd Gulf War, Yugoslavia. I hosted two morning programmes, "Studio 5" with Rika Vagiani and "Frou–Frou" with Liza Doukakarou, as well as news bulletins. I was also in charge of a series of special missions to China, Poland, Pakistan, England, Tunisia.

Among other international personalities I interviewed: Benazir Bhutto, Corazon Aquino, Shimon Peres, Alain Juppé, Yasser Arafat, Lech Walesa, Jacques Santer, Lionel Jospin, Claudia Cardinale, Elizabeth Taylor and others.

Tunisia


The most «dangerous» mission to interview the exiled Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader being guarded under Draconian safety measures.

Throughout the entire interview the bodyguards kept their guns at the ready. At the end he kissed me and gave me a jacket with Palestinian embroidery which he said "looks like Cretan". When I returned with this world exclusive in my hands, I «bowed and scraped» as they say, to get just 3 minutes of it broadcast. I will never forget when I succeeded in getting Claudia Cardinale to ‘tell all’, and it was broadcast at 1 in the morning meaning that very few saw it. Working in television requires the endurance of a prizefighter. Something similar happened with Benazir Bhutto, but when the programme was randomly repeated in the summer, I remember my boss at the time, the volatile Giorgos Leventogiannis, telling me «Even my mother liked it, so it must be good work!» Ah, what thanks I gave to that mother!

China (1996)

The first official mission by Greek television reporters on invitation from the Chinese Federation of Journalists (Peking, Xian, Shanghai) with extensive reporting on the emerging giant. What do I remember most of all and what would I prefer to forget?

That the moment I set foot in Peking my cameraman’s camera broke down and for two days we ran around after dozens of little Chinese guys trying to explain in sign language that we wanted to get it fixed? That in the end we rented an old-fashioned camera and in order to make up for lost time, we almost got put in prison for entering the forbidden City and filming, literally pretending to be Chinese, although we knew that filming wasn’t allowed?

I will never forget the enthusiasm we both had. Xian, Shanghai, Peking, daylight came before we stopped the standups, the close-ups, the travelling, and all types of filming as the country has unprecedented beauty, a strange and unknown land, with customs never before seen by Westerners. Everywhere we went we were treated with respect as we came from Sila, Greece, land of Wisdom.

Poland


The mission included an interview with the Solidarity leader and former President Lech Walesa in Gdansk and reportage on the «young» former Communist country in the Western European environment.










Pakistan

An interview with the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto at the presidential residence, reporting and recording of developments in the subsequently most dangerous country on earth, a place reached once by Alexander the Great.

EXCERPT
FROM THE BOOK I AM WRITING ON ASIDES OMITTED FROM MY MEETINGS WITH INTERNATIONAL PERSONALITIES

«…Shivers ran down my spine. I looked down on Karachi, as much as I could see, and I prayed. «IthinkImgoingtodie» I said to myself. Twenty years later I wonder why I didn’t scream at the flight attendant to change my seat. It was as though I had bowed to the kismet of the East, I didn’t even react. For 50 minutes, Isweated, shivered, felt sick and didn’t say a word. Next to me, not one but three swarthy, yellow, unshaven, pathetic men were burning up with fever. All Pakistanis. Some others peered at me, to be exact, they climbed on their seats and looked back to where I was sitting, persistently…»

«…
To my left, the sick men, in front of me, the curious ones, to my right, the veil of the East, the mist formed by the terrible heat and humidity in these countries: the smog of Asia…»

«…
Itriedtorelaxbythinkingpleasantthoughts: «You have been trying, my dear Irene, for seven months to arrange this interview with Benazir and now you’re on the way». «Look, youre in one of those exotic countries you love…» etc. I summoned up a phrase in Urdu «Housla Rakho», in other words, keep your spirits up, Irene, I said to myself with a smile, trying to make light of the situation…»

«…
She was more beautiful in real life. Verytall. Gentle and at the same time distant. Lightly made up, clear white skin. As though the dark skin of her race had become whiter because she was «from a good family»…» «...She spoke quietly, in a low voice, almost gently. She was moved to tears at the beginning of our discussion, as she spoke of the common points between the story of her people and the story of mine. She even remembered a phrase from an ancient Greek tragedy. Her eyes sparkled when she spoke of Zia. The steadiness in her voice, her eloquence, admirable. Twice her burqa slipped. She put it back in place with graceful movements. She exuded confidence. She had the air of an experienced politician. Of a leader…»

London

September 1997.
Sent to cover the most impressive and significant global television event, the like of which had never seen before: Princess Diana’s funeral. “I picked up the mop” at Mega and I didn’t put it down until daybreak, weekends, even holidays, my child didn’t really see me at home till she was eight!



Who said that TV only has lights? I left Mega in an earthquake…! At Mega despite the horrendous hours, the endless successive weekends at work, I felt more than ever before that I was a true journalist! The technicians, directors and most of the journalists were top professionals, the best I have ever worked with. This resulted in competition, coercion, «morstuavitamea (your death my life)». I escaped from Mega having acquired blood pressure, blessed be he who was responsible as it was a blessing in disguise!
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