Episode 1 A1: Britain's Longest Road


Episode 1

Documentary series following the people who work on the A1. A high-speed police chase leads to a major drugs bust, and two swans force the road to close.


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Transcript


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The A1 -

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Britain's longest road...

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..stretching almost 400 miles,

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from the City of London to the heart of the Scottish capital.

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Connecting two nations and passing through 18 counties,

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it's an unrivalled highway, used by hundreds of thousands

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of vehicles every day.

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We're going southbound down the A1, on the northbound carriageway.

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But not all journeys go to plan.

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I thought, "I'm going to lose my life."

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-Cars are coming close.

-It is the dangerous place to be.

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Lives can hang in the balance.

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The rear end of that vehicle, it is unrecognisable.

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This is actually the bodywork of the car.

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24 hours a day...

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It's not a safe place here.

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..there is a team of people who keep us safe from harm.

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The police...

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-..response teams...

-We don't know whether they've got the road closed

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or we don't know what's happened.

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..and traffic officers...

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Mate, keep going.

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..keeping Britain's most iconic road...

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-Get out!

-..on the move.

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Substantially-damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

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The A1, the monster that it is, will start to return to normal.

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Coming up...

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Flying debris smashes into a minibus.

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Life can change so quickly.

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Something has come off another vehicle and created this carnage.

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A high-speed police chase leads to a major drugs bust.

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Could be amphetamine, could be cocaine.

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We've got the result we wanted.

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-And getting into a flap.

-We've currently got a couple of swans

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-on the A1.

-Two birds bring the road to a standstill.

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The traffic is backed three miles now.

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The A1 is a 400-mile superhighway - a key artery from central London,

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through the fields of Lincolnshire, past the northern powerhouses

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of Leeds and Newcastle,

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before crossing the Border and skirting the Scottish coast,

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ending at Edinburgh's Waverley Station.

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One of the busiest stretches is in the north-east of England,

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where more than 90,000 vehicles use the A1 every day.

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Almost all are law-abiding motorists,

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but some are anything but.

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It's rush hour and cutting through the traffic

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is PC Alan Keenliside, who's on his way to an emergency.

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We've been asked to go into Durham's area, which is actually really,

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really rare. So, either Durham shouted for help

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or there is a vehicle of high interest to the police

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which may be coming our way.

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As he nears Durham, more intelligence comes in.

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So, we've got a vehicle travelling up into our area

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with a high level... A high quantity of drugs in it.

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Criminals use the A1 to get around, and our main thing that we do

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in the traffic department is we deny criminals the use of the road.

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And that's what we're going to be doing tonight.

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A suspicious car has been spotted heading north on its way up the A1.

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Joined by three other pursuit cars,

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they quickly need to catch up with the suspect.

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To stop them safely, it's vital they have the element of surprise.

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Blue lights show up from miles back.

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So, what we need to do is we need to make ground,

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as quickly and safely as possible,

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but not show the person our blue lights.

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So we don't want that vehicle to fail to stop,

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we don't want a pursuit to happen.

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But cutting through the congestion

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without blue lights and sirens makes for frustratingly slow progress.

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Light's going on here.

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14 miles after their pursuit started on the A1,

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Alan and the team have the target vehicle in their sights.

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They will use a tactical stop,

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boxing the suspect vehicle in completely.

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SIRENS WAIL

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The car has been stopped safely and the driver arrested...

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Come in the front one, use the front one.

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..exactly how Alan hoped things would pan out.

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We caught the driver by complete shock.

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He's driving along minding his own business.

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He's got his radio on and, the next minute,

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he's surrounded by police cars with blue lights, sirens.

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And we do that for a very, very good reason, because it shocks them.

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And by shocking the driver, it will essentially stun them.

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With the suspect taken away for questioning,

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officers now need to search the car for drugs.

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But as the sniffer dogs are called in,

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will this pursuit operation end in a bust or be totally blown?

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Alan's force, Northumbria, is one of 15 tasked with keeping

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the roads safe for the travelling public.

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70 miles south down the A1,

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in the North Yorkshire village of Tollerton,

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a champion cattle breeder is preparing for a big journey.

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Farmer Paul Harrison travels on the A1 with his South Devon cows

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all year round.

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That means he knows the A1 like the back of his hand.

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But he knows his herd by their backsides.

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As daft as it is,

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by looking at how big their bums are, I can tell you which is...

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Obviously, that's Stella, Juniper and Dina.

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And Winston is obviously the male of the ones that has a bit more

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of an attachment underneath!

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But his wife Pam doesn't have quite such an intimate knowledge.

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I go more by the head, by the tag.

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I don't know them as well as Paul.

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I do spend a lot of time with my animals, out in the field,

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talking to them. Second to Pam is the cattle.

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Oh, my word. That's a first!

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Good girl.

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Today, the couple are prepping four of their finest

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for the end of season show 130 miles down the A1 in Peterborough.

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And Paul and Pam are optimistic it will be a fruitful journey.

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This one was won last week at the Skipton Sale.

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This one is for the champion at the Great Yorkshire.

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Over the past 40 years, Paul and Pam have scooped up

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more than 200 trophies and rosettes from all over the country.

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It is a bug that, once you've got it, you can't do without it.

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It's like a fix, really!

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But before any more trophies head back to Yorkshire,

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Paul needs to get his stars to the show.

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We will see whether Juniper will go in.

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Oh, you are going in there, are you?

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The trouble is three of them have never travelled before.

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Come on. You'll have to walk better than this tomorrow

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or else we won't be going.

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-Good girl.

-Come on, girl.

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Winston, a 1.5 tonne young bull,

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will need more than a shove to get into the trailer.

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Come on, lad. Good lad.

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Good boy.

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And after some more sweet talking from Paul...

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-Come on, then.

-..all four cows are loaded and they are ready

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to hit the road.

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Away we go.

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As they join the A1, the calves are all calm and relaxed.

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For Paul and Pam, they will be hoping this latest road trip will be

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a little less eventful than previous journeys.

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We were going to Smithfield, weren't we?

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And all of a sudden,

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you could feel it was being a bit spongy on the right-hand side.

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A kind man pulled up and said, "Have you a problem?

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And I said, "Yeah, I've got a flat tyre."

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He said, "Well, we can't lift the wagon up on a jack with animals in."

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So, we actually did fasten them to the crash barrier

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and then they stood there while he actually got the wheels off,

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mended it and set off again.

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Yeah, we did get some strange looks, with four animals fastened

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to the crash barrier of the A1...

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BOTH LAUGH

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..which, nowadays, wouldn't be allowed.

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It was one of those that you remember and you think,

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"Hopefully, never again."

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Barring an impromptu cattle show on the side of the carriageway,

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it will take Paul and Pam three and a half hours to ferry

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their precious cargo down the A1 to Peterborough.

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But will Paul's calves arrive in tip-top condition and bring another

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haul of trophies back to Yorkshire?

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Should their heifers need help on their journey,

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the A1 now has a dedicated team of nearly 120 traffic officers

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on hand to provide assistance.

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And one of the busiest beats for these helpers in hi-viz

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is a 17-mile stretch near Doncaster,

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where large volumes of traffic are squeezed into just two lanes.

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It's 6am and Paul Day and Rob Larkin

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are getting ready to patrol this tricky stretch of the road.

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They've worked together for 11 years, but a combination of a dark,

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wet, winter morning and rush-hour

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means that these two won't be enjoying a cosy chat today.

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-Charlie Echo 1-3.

-And within minutes of hitting the road,

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they are on their way to a collision at a major intersection,

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where the A1 meets the M18.

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What we've got reports of is a two-vehicle crash, lane one,

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one facing the wrong way.

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With so many cars on the road,

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a crash at rush-hour can quickly lead to more incidents,

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so Paul and Rob need to get there fast.

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At the scene, it's people, and not vehicles, that are Paul's priority.

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Hi. Anybody injured?

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The Skoda has taken the brunt of the impact,

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spinning it round in the opposite direction.

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We've got some barrier damage.

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The vehicle's on the hard shoulder and is still facing the wrong way.

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And it's only the crash barrier

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which has saved the driver from plunging into the ditch.

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Have you got any recovery?

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How long? Within an hour?

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Luckily, both drivers seem fine, but with rush-hour traffic building,

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Paul is not prepared to wait that long.

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Because it's not a safe place here, so we'll get it shifted, all right?

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To get the Skoda towed away safely,

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it needs to be moved off the slip road,

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so Paul is going to have to stop the traffic.

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Because of the weather and the way everything is facing,

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it can create a distraction, that could cause another one,

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like a secondary crash.

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For every minute the road is closed,

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the tailbacks will grow and could quickly stretch for miles.

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It takes as long as it takes. We just take our time,

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make sure everybody's safe, make sure it's all done right.

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It's not a perfect start to a Tuesday morning, this,

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but we'll make what we can of it.

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It takes Paul and Rob just three minutes to shift the Skoda

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and get the traffic flowing again.

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But not everyone is impressed.

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We've had the odd toot from the passing motorists,

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appreciating our efforts(!)

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But even if it's only slowed people down by five minutes...

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TOOTING

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..if we weren't here doing it, it would slow them down

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a hell of a lot more, because there is all this stuff there -

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rubbernecking going, "Oh, what's that?"

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Cos we moved it, they're moving again.

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Rob and Paul will deal with another 100 similar incidents

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over the course of the year.

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But for Skoda driver Monica Jednowski,

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it's an ordeal she hopes she will never repeat.

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I have never had a crash before, never experienced anything like it.

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So...for a few seconds, I thought I'm going to lose my life.

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If those barriers were not there, I would probably not be here now.

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And, yeah, that's it.

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But when traffic officers are involved,

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every cloud has a silver lining.

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-Tuck that in.

-Like a turkey?!

-If you put your hand inside... That's it.

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As the lads get back on the road,

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it's a scenario they've seen hundreds of times.

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What we had there was a combination of everything

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that could have gone wrong, went wrong.

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People might have been in the wrong lanes, the weather was terrible.

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-Dark.

-Dark. They weren't watching where they were going properly.

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-Just people not paying attention, isn't it?

-Yep.

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For Paul and Rob, there is still six hours of their shift to go,

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and with nearly 2,100 accidents happening up and down the road

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every year, that's five every day.

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Traffic officers rarely get a quiet shift.

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100 miles north,

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PC Alan Keenliside's regular night-time patrol of the A1

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has taken a dramatic turn.

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Alan and his fellow officers have tracked a suspected drug dealer

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from the motorway to the suburbs of Sunderland,

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where they boxed him in and arrested him.

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A sniffer dog is now on the scene, to discover if their intelligence

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is correct and the car does contain drugs.

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She is trained for drugs, cash and the weapons.

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If there's anything of any interest,

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she will obviously hone in on it.

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So, I'll just give her a free search to start off with,

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see if there's any areas of interest.

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Straightaway, spaniel Kim has singled out the central console.

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If there's interest and she can't get close enough,

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she's, kind of, like, digging, to get to it.

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-It's more confirmation.

-It's a promising start,

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but dog handler Matt Welsh wants Kim to search the rest of the vehicle

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before getting involved.

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Her sense of smell is that good that she can pick up on residual scent.

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There is potential in something that could have been there hours,

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days ago.

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And Kim is showing a keen interest

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in the space underneath the boot, too.

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It's time for Alan to dig deeper.

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People actually hide things in the tyres.

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Real professional set-ups.

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They take the tyre off the rim, fill it full of drugs.

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We'll have a quick look.

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Looks like sniffer dog Kim has definitely got a lead.

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That's not normal activity.

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If there was nothing there, she would have been away from that,

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she'd have been flying around in the bush, but she's gone straight there.

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As Alan checks out the tyre,

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other officers are investigating Kim's initial area of interest.

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She was going for the console under the seats

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-and there is a big stash there, so...

-Is there?

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Yeah, check out the front seat.

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That's what we're looking at.

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So, that is probably what? Ten inches, nine-ten inches,

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by about six inches there and reasonably thick.

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A solid block of what appears to be some form of white substance.

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It was right in here inside the console itself.

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It's down and it's in under here.

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It could be amphetamine, it could be cocaine.

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The dog has done its job and we got the result we wanted.

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It's one of the biggest hauls Alan has ever come across

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and it will now be sent to the laboratory for tests.

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I can smell engine, I can smell brakes, I can smell gear,

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I can smell oil.

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It is a smell of a three-litre A4

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having worked very, very well indeed.

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For Alan, it's back to the A1, doing the job he loves.

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Everyone who works on traffic, you like driving,

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you are a bit of a petrol head and sometimes, you know,

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you have got to pinch yourself and you have to think,

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"Do I really get to come to work and drive real top-end cars?"

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And you are driving them at the highest possible level

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and catching bad guys.

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You just think, "It's the best job in the world."

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And his hard work tonight has really paid off.

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Tests later revealed the package contains a kilo of uncut cocaine

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with a street value of around £50,000.

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More than 120 miles south,

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champion cattle breeder Paul Harrison and his wife Pam are halfway through

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their journey transporting four of their prize-winning herd to a show in Peterborough.

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Large parts of the modern A1 follow the lines of the Roman road used

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to move troops and livestock up and down the country.

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2,000 years later, a new generation of road users have come to rely on it.

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Yeah, the backbone of our travelling is the A1.

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Because it's the main road out of Yorkshire, really.

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Paul and Pam are veterans of the road,

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but it's the first time that many of the young calves have left the farm,

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never mind Yorkshire.

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But so far they're taking it all in their stride.

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The thing that makes the difference, I think,

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is having this trailer with a flap at the front, you know,

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they can put their head up, they are getting a bit of fresh air.

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It's an adventure for the animal and the animal has to be happy.

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It's a bit like entertaining children, really.

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Not that I was the one that entertained our son because I was always working.

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With the cows!

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After three and a half hours on the road, they've all arrived safely at the showground in Peterborough.

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But even though they've travelled well,

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being cooped up in a tin box means the cows are desperate to roam free.

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Stand.

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You are coming out backwards.

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That's it. Back out, then.

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-COW MOOS

-Don't get a strop on.

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Wait.

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Just be a bit careful.

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Don't get a strop on.

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Steady.

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Steady.

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Wrestling this much boisterous beef certainly isn't easy.

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Steady.

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Stand.

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But, finally, Paul and Pam get their unruly herd bedded down.

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If you just look in the side here, how she is puffing...

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..that is the stress factor due to travelling.

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So they want to settle down and they will be fine tomorrow, hopefully.

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Hopefully.

0:20:500:20:52

The feisty foursome will be competing

0:20:540:20:57

with more than 200 prize specimens in tomorrow's show.

0:20:570:21:00

And Pam thinks their competition numbers could be a good omen.

0:21:030:21:07

Well, there is a five,

0:21:070:21:09

and five is actually one of my lucky numbers, is five.

0:21:090:21:13

So all being well, we might be lucky.

0:21:130:21:17

On the eve of battle, the rivalry is already hotting up.

0:21:210:21:25

I won last year, you won the year before and I won the year before that.

0:21:250:21:29

-I think we won the year before that.

-I think.

-Very even.

0:21:290:21:32

Last four years, we are on an even keel.

0:21:320:21:34

-This is the year.

-We're not on an even keel because I haven't won yet.

0:21:340:21:37

THEY CHUCKLE

0:21:370:21:38

With such fierce competition,

0:21:380:21:41

Paul hopes a good night's rest will see his cows in prime condition for tomorrow's show.

0:21:410:21:46

110 miles north lies the busiest stretch of the A1,

0:21:500:21:54

where it meets the M1, near Leeds.

0:21:540:21:57

Traffic officers Rob Larkin and Paul Day patrol this patch,

0:21:570:22:01

which sees more than 90,000 vehicles a day.

0:22:010:22:04

Parking up and keeping a close eye on the road is a vital part of their job.

0:22:060:22:11

From here, we can see the A1 over to our right so we can keep an eye

0:22:110:22:15

on the flow and it gives us access both north and south from here.

0:22:150:22:20

It's a really good place for parking up

0:22:200:22:22

and just keeping an eye on things ticking over.

0:22:220:22:25

Paul and Rob have worked together for over a decade,

0:22:250:22:29

a double act forged during long hours spent patrolling one of Britain's busiest roads.

0:22:290:22:35

I'd work with him every day because I know how he works and I know he will be looking out for me.

0:22:350:22:39

We want to be together.

0:22:390:22:41

By working together a lot, you create this bond where you are...

0:22:420:22:48

in each other's hands, sort of thing.

0:22:480:22:51

I could trust him with my life and he could trust me with his life

0:22:510:22:54

and that's how we work.

0:22:540:22:56

When it comes to Britain's most dangerous workplaces,

0:22:570:23:00

motorways are right up there.

0:23:000:23:03

In the last five years, two fellow traffic officers have tragically lost their lives on duty.

0:23:040:23:11

So Rob is all too aware of the risks of this deadly road.

0:23:110:23:15

I think every day when I'm going out that gate,

0:23:180:23:21

"I wonder if I'll come back today,"

0:23:210:23:22

because you are working in a very, very dangerous environment.

0:23:220:23:25

One day, you might not come back.

0:23:250:23:28

I have that thought.

0:23:310:23:33

It is prevalent in your head, isn't it? Whereas it's not in mine.

0:23:340:23:37

I have that thought every day.

0:23:370:23:38

I think to myself, "I wonder if I'll get back today."

0:23:380:23:41

I never, ever think that at all.

0:23:410:23:44

It shocks me as much as you don't think it.

0:23:490:23:51

Never. Never entered my head.

0:23:510:23:53

Well, it has entered my head now because you said it.

0:23:540:23:57

But the chance to reflect and relax is soon over.

0:24:020:24:05

A report has come in about some dangerous debris lying in the middle of the motorway.

0:24:060:24:12

This has been reported as a piece of metal that has fallen off of a LGV

0:24:120:24:17

so it could be flicked up by a car

0:24:170:24:19

and it could cause some serious trouble.

0:24:190:24:21

The debris has been reported east of Leeds.

0:24:210:24:25

And as they approach the scene,

0:24:250:24:26

it appears to have already wreaked havoc.

0:24:260:24:30

On the right-hand side there, it looks like the police have vehicles.

0:24:300:24:33

As you can see, it has smashed the window.

0:24:330:24:36

In fact, it's created a right mess.

0:24:370:24:40

Something may have flicked it up and then it has gone into that minibus.

0:24:400:24:43

It's all too apparent how serious this incident is.

0:24:460:24:50

They've been so lucky,

0:24:550:24:57

the people in this vehicle,

0:24:570:24:59

that it's actually hit the passenger side of the vehicle

0:24:590:25:03

where nobody is likely to be sat.

0:25:030:25:05

The minibus was carrying a group of 12 children to school

0:25:060:25:10

when it was struck

0:25:100:25:11

and they've had a fortunate escape.

0:25:110:25:14

The main thing it makes me think of is how life can change so quickly.

0:25:160:25:20

These have been travelling along, not a care in the world,

0:25:200:25:23

and through no fault of their own,

0:25:230:25:26

something has come off another vehicle and created this carnage.

0:25:260:25:30

Incredibly, no-one on the minibus has been injured,

0:25:320:25:35

but Paul and Rob fear the mystery object could cause another accident,

0:25:350:25:39

so they have to find it...and fast.

0:25:390:25:42

Watching over the A1 round the clock

0:25:460:25:48

is a vast network of more than 300 CCTV cameras.

0:25:480:25:51

At one of the four regional control centres in Newcastle,

0:25:530:25:56

incident manager Ian Lee is keeping a close eye on the road.

0:25:560:26:00

Ian has learned that even though the road is pretty straight,

0:26:030:26:06

daily life on it has many twists and turns.

0:26:060:26:09

We have currently got a couple of swans

0:26:090:26:11

that have decided to have a waddle on the A1.

0:26:110:26:15

The reason being is a wet asphalt surface looks like a river.

0:26:180:26:23

So they landed on it. Obviously,

0:26:230:26:25

something the size of a swan could do some damage to a vehicle

0:26:250:26:28

or could cause a secondary incident.

0:26:280:26:29

CCTV operator Craig Cushing is liaising with the team at the scene.

0:26:310:26:35

It's the first time I've witnessed swans on a carriageway.

0:26:350:26:39

Highway Patrol has put a block on southbound traffic.

0:26:390:26:43

A very busy junction at this time of day.

0:26:430:26:46

But for traffic officers,

0:26:460:26:47

avian evacuations are clearly beyond their job brief.

0:26:470:26:50

Rather than try and capture the swans,

0:26:500:26:52

they are trying to initiate a take-off by flapping their wings,

0:26:520:26:55

with no joy.

0:26:550:26:57

We can admire the endeavour.

0:26:590:27:02

Now, I think if that traffic officer takes a run and flaps his wing,

0:27:050:27:09

he may take off himself!

0:27:090:27:11

LAUGHTER

0:27:110:27:13

I'm trying to be as professional as I possibly can here.

0:27:140:27:17

But they have failed in taking off.

0:27:190:27:21

You couldn't write this.

0:27:230:27:24

However, it's no joke that the A1 has ground to a halt.

0:27:260:27:29

I mean, we've had that closed there for...about five minutes now,

0:27:290:27:34

and the traffic is back to probably about three miles now.

0:27:340:27:39

Thankfully, though, the traffic officers have managed to shoo the swans

0:27:420:27:46

off the motorway and they are able to reopen the road.

0:27:460:27:49

I hope they've got insurance details because we will be putting a claim in against them.

0:27:500:27:55

But with the birds still at the side of the carriageway,

0:27:570:27:59

the traffic officers won't be taking off to another job just yet.

0:27:590:28:03

More than 200 animals, all of them posing a danger to motorists,

0:28:060:28:10

had to be removed from the road last year.

0:28:100:28:13

But thankfully, farmer Paul Harrison

0:28:150:28:17

has managed to keep his prize-winning cows

0:28:170:28:19

under control on their trip south to Peterborough.

0:28:190:28:22

Now it's showtime.

0:28:220:28:24

More than 200 competitors are preparing to battle it out

0:28:280:28:32

at the Smithfield Festival, one of the most prestigious shows of the season,

0:28:320:28:35

and champion breeders Paul and Pam Harrison are here to check up on how their four young calves

0:28:350:28:41

have fared overnight after yesterday's long journey from North Yorkshire.

0:28:410:28:45

All right, nippies? All right?

0:28:450:28:48

It's your dad.

0:28:480:28:49

You are chewing, aren't you, lass?

0:28:490:28:52

Yeah, they look well. Settled.

0:28:520:28:54

Yeah, pleased with them.

0:28:540:28:56

As Paul gets them all up,

0:28:590:29:01

sleepy Stella seems to be in a bit of a situation.

0:29:010:29:05

That's what I told you, just wait, wait. Wait.

0:29:050:29:08

Wait. Wait.

0:29:080:29:11

Good lass. That's it.

0:29:110:29:13

You're all right.

0:29:130:29:15

Clearly Stella is not at her best first thing.

0:29:150:29:18

But a makeover should help...

0:29:180:29:20

Good girl.

0:29:210:29:23

..at Farmer Paul's Bovine Beauty Salon.

0:29:230:29:26

Look at that.

0:29:280:29:30

You are like a lovely fluffy ball, aren't you, Juniper?

0:29:300:29:32

You have the best coat of them all.

0:29:320:29:34

Everybody comes and says, "That Yorkshire man isn't going to win."

0:29:370:29:41

I never lay down lightly, so it will be interesting to see what happens.

0:29:420:29:48

And Paul has not got long to wait.

0:29:480:29:51

The competition is about to get underway.

0:29:510:29:53

And the first class of South Devon into ring three, please.

0:29:560:29:59

First up for Paul is his unruly young bull, Winston.

0:30:010:30:04

Weighing in at over 1.5 tonnes,

0:30:070:30:09

Winston is much bigger than his rivals.

0:30:090:30:12

Good lad.

0:30:120:30:14

Good lad.

0:30:140:30:16

Steady.

0:30:160:30:18

But if he doesn't stand still for judge Douglas Scott,

0:30:180:30:21

this big boy could blow his chances.

0:30:210:30:23

Steady.

0:30:250:30:26

Good lad.

0:30:280:30:29

But in the cow-showing world...

0:30:310:30:33

Thank you very much.

0:30:330:30:34

..does size really matter?

0:30:340:30:36

-Thank you very much, Douglas.

-Thank you.

0:30:380:30:40

Thank you.

0:30:400:30:42

Winston's first prize is just the start of Paul and Pam's winning streak.

0:30:420:30:46

Thank you very much. Thank you, Douglas. Thank you.

0:30:460:30:49

I thought the South West would get that one,

0:30:500:30:53

but the judge's decision is final.

0:30:530:30:57

And then it's prize heifer Stella.

0:30:570:30:59

And she doesn't disappoint.

0:31:030:31:04

Thank you very much.

0:31:040:31:06

And there is even a third place for the older heifer, Dinah.

0:31:070:31:11

Big smiles, everybody.

0:31:110:31:13

Steven, don't let the side down.

0:31:150:31:17

You couldn't have done any better than what we've done.

0:31:200:31:22

There is that many, I'm dropping them.

0:31:220:31:26

Hopefully, Pam will find a place for these on the sideboard.

0:31:260:31:30

They'll fit. They'll fit. I'll make them fit.

0:31:300:31:33

Even with all of today's victories,

0:31:330:31:35

Paul and Pam are hoping to add one final prize to their mantelpiece.

0:31:350:31:39

Their star of the show, Stella,

0:31:420:31:44

is going up against all of the other award winners

0:31:440:31:46

in a bid to be crowned champion of champions.

0:31:460:31:50

This is a nervy part

0:31:540:31:55

because obviously this is the highlight of the show.

0:31:550:31:59

And with some serious silverware on offer, judge Ian Green really has

0:32:000:32:05

his work cut out.

0:32:050:32:07

Ian Green casts his eye around a quality field.

0:32:070:32:11

Who is going to win this pedigree calf interbreed championship this afternoon?

0:32:150:32:20

It is the Charolais!

0:32:280:32:30

Sadly for Paul and Stella, they've been beaten by a real heavyweight.

0:32:300:32:34

But they are far from down.

0:32:340:32:36

I don't think I've ever come to Smithfield and done as well, ever.

0:32:360:32:40

You know, bringing four animals and just dropping one prize.

0:32:410:32:44

Well, that is tremendous.

0:32:440:32:46

And Paul's prize cows seem so happy with their medal haul,

0:32:480:32:51

they don't actually want to leave.

0:32:510:32:53

Get up. Come on.

0:32:530:32:55

Come on.

0:32:550:32:57

Come on. Get up.

0:32:580:32:59

Get up.

0:32:590:33:01

All that's left for Paul and his cows...

0:33:010:33:03

Good lass.

0:33:030:33:04

..is the three-and-a-half-hour journey

0:33:040:33:06

back up the A1 to their Yorkshire home.

0:33:060:33:08

A staggering 2,500 pieces of debris have had to be retrieved

0:33:140:33:18

from the carriageway every year,

0:33:180:33:21

each one of them with the potential to cause carnage.

0:33:210:33:24

Back in West Yorkshire, traffic officers Paul and Rob

0:33:260:33:29

are still on the trail of a mystery object

0:33:290:33:32

which has slammed into the windscreen of a school minibus.

0:33:320:33:35

Central res. Whereabouts?

0:33:350:33:38

Helping in the search is PC Dan Baldwin

0:33:380:33:41

who was first on the scene.

0:33:410:33:43

Rob is up on the banking and he can see into the, er...into the gully

0:33:450:33:49

and he is looking to see if he can see some debris.

0:33:490:33:51

He thinks there is something in there.

0:33:510:33:53

So far, PC Baldwin's risky recce of the central reservation

0:33:530:33:58

seems to have drawn a blank.

0:33:580:33:59

It appears it's obviously not what we are looking for,

0:34:010:34:03

it must be bigger.

0:34:030:34:04

But then Paul spots something in the distance.

0:34:070:34:10

It's just up past there.

0:34:100:34:13

Behind, up there.

0:34:130:34:15

I've seen it.

0:34:170:34:19

It's behind the barrier near the phone.

0:34:190:34:23

This enormous piece of metal and plastic

0:34:250:34:28

appears to be the roof off a van.

0:34:280:34:31

-Well, that's it.

-I wasn't kidding when I said it was a big piece.

0:34:320:34:35

Full roof, yeah.

0:34:350:34:36

There is a risk a gust of wind could catch this sail-like object again,

0:34:380:34:43

blowing it back into the carriageway and causing carnage.

0:34:430:34:46

So Paul secures it in a sheltered spot.

0:34:480:34:51

With the size of this debris,

0:34:530:34:55

can we get our contractors to gantry 9568 Bravo

0:34:550:35:00

to pick this debris up?

0:35:000:35:02

It is probably ten foot by eight foot

0:35:020:35:05

with fibreglass Perspex in the middle.

0:35:050:35:09

It is probably as big as a transit roof.

0:35:090:35:11

The whole lot. You see there?

0:35:110:35:13

-Yeah, I see how big it is.

-It's 8 foot by 10. It's massive.

0:35:130:35:16

Probably the biggest piece of debris I've ever seen on the motorway.

0:35:180:35:22

Normally it is tyres or lumps of wood, things like that.

0:35:220:35:25

But, I mean, I think that's to take the record, the roof off the truck.

0:35:250:35:29

With the response team on its way to collect the roof and the minibus

0:35:310:35:35

soon to be recovered, Paul and Rob can hit the road again.

0:35:350:35:38

So, so lucky.

0:35:380:35:40

Incredibly, footage soon emerges from a following motorist

0:35:520:35:56

which shows exactly what happened.

0:35:560:35:59

The wind appears to have got under the van roof and sent it hurtling

0:36:120:36:16

across the carriageway into the path of the minibus.

0:36:160:36:20

Back at base, Paul and Rob are keen to see for themselves

0:36:310:36:34

how the incident unfolded.

0:36:340:36:36

There's the van.

0:36:450:36:47

Oh. Look at that.

0:36:490:36:51

The van has not even noticed, has it?

0:36:540:36:55

Oh, that could have just been so much worse than that.

0:36:550:36:58

I mean,

0:36:580:37:00

it wasn't flapping,

0:37:000:37:01

it wasn't giving any indication it was going to come off,

0:37:010:37:04

it's just peeled off all at once.

0:37:040:37:06

It appears the calm actions of the driver have prevented things ending in disaster.

0:37:070:37:13

That minibus driver wants a medal.

0:37:150:37:17

He never even flinched.

0:37:170:37:19

He didn't panic, did he? I'll give him that.

0:37:190:37:21

He didn't even move out of lane.

0:37:210:37:23

He indicated.

0:37:230:37:24

Having the kids screaming, like the probably would have been,

0:37:240:37:28

and then still having the calm rational thinking

0:37:280:37:30

to think, "Hang on, I need to get it over." It's amazing.

0:37:300:37:34

He could have swerved violently

0:37:350:37:36

and then the minibus may have rolled over

0:37:360:37:38

and gone into the central reservation.

0:37:380:37:40

It could have been carnage. It could have so easily been carnage.

0:37:400:37:43

It could have been a very, very different story, that. Yeah.

0:37:430:37:47

Somebody was looking over them all.

0:37:470:37:49

And watching over a different stretch of the road at Gateshead

0:37:520:37:55

is the Angel of the North.

0:37:550:37:57

But as well as her, in the nearby Newcastle control centre,

0:37:570:38:01

there are around 70 CCTV cameras monitoring the road.

0:38:010:38:05

And Ian Lee has spotted that some old friends are back.

0:38:070:38:10

Can you just head A1 southbound between Lobley Hill and Coal House?

0:38:110:38:17

Just if you're in that area,

0:38:170:38:19

we've got a couple of swans on the network.

0:38:190:38:21

Incident manager Craig Heyward is on his way to head them off.

0:38:240:38:27

But Craig is in two minds

0:38:290:38:30

about whether he is actually the best man for the job.

0:38:300:38:33

I wouldn't like to touch one.

0:38:330:38:35

I know they've got quite a nasty bite on them.

0:38:360:38:39

Thankfully for Craig, the swans have made it off the carriageway

0:38:410:38:44

and vehicles are still moving.

0:38:440:38:46

But traffic officer Richard Pihotsky is still in a bit of a flap

0:38:460:38:49

about how close the birds are to the road.

0:38:490:38:53

Where are they going?

0:38:530:38:55

Where are they going off to?

0:38:550:38:57

-Where are they going? Yeah...

-I'll have a word with them.

0:38:570:39:00

This is quite unusual.

0:39:020:39:04

We get quite a lot of dogs, horses, sheep on the network.

0:39:040:39:07

Swans are fairly rare,

0:39:070:39:09

especially in the middle of an urban area like this.

0:39:090:39:13

And they are so unpredictable,

0:39:130:39:15

which is why we just can't grab hold of them

0:39:150:39:18

and throw them in the back of the car,

0:39:180:39:20

it's just far too dangerous.

0:39:200:39:22

And far too risky, in case they do fly out on the motorway.

0:39:220:39:25

With rush hour traffic now building, Richard has hatched a plan.

0:39:260:39:30

Do you think you could just run parallel to stop them going?

0:39:300:39:33

-Yeah, yeah.

-If there's a problem, we can stop the slip straightaway.

0:39:330:39:36

Yeah, keep them confined to the verge.

0:39:360:39:38

So as not to spook them, Richard and Craig use a pincer movement

0:39:400:39:44

to guide the birds down the bank and away from the A1.

0:39:440:39:46

So far, so good,

0:39:560:39:58

but Craig's worry is that these young birds are repeat offenders.

0:39:580:40:02

It's going to just keep happening again and again.

0:40:020:40:05

If the swans get back on the road,

0:40:050:40:06

we'll have to keep shutting the lanes.

0:40:060:40:08

The RSPCA has been called,

0:40:080:40:10

but with no sign of the officers arriving soon,

0:40:100:40:12

the team gets creative.

0:40:120:40:14

They hope a spare bit of emergency fencing will ensure the dynamic duo

0:40:160:40:21

don't turn tail again.

0:40:210:40:22

All right, Sean? You're good at this.

0:40:240:40:26

-You normally chase the birds and they run away from you.

-That's me, mate.

0:40:260:40:33

I think the swans are just... down here.

0:40:330:40:35

I think they're probably quite tired,

0:40:350:40:37

that's why they won't take off.

0:40:370:40:38

They look as though they are settling down for the night now.

0:40:380:40:41

Or maybe not, Craig.

0:40:410:40:43

Just when his back is turned,

0:40:430:40:45

one of the swans makes another bid for freedom.

0:40:450:40:47

So, Craig has to conquer his fear

0:40:490:40:51

and corral the swan back into its temporary pen.

0:40:510:40:54

It was double-necked there.

0:41:020:41:04

Its neck came in, came out and went back in.

0:41:050:41:08

Dealing with the swans has had the traffic officers in a flap

0:41:110:41:14

for over three hours.

0:41:140:41:16

Eventually, the experts arrive to take over.

0:41:170:41:20

RSPCA are now on scene. Over.

0:41:200:41:23

Inspector Cathy Richardson makes short work

0:41:250:41:28

of bagging up the first swan.

0:41:280:41:30

And she has her own theory

0:41:320:41:33

on how the pair have ended up by the motorway.

0:41:330:41:36

They are still young, but they are big enough that they are probably OK

0:41:380:41:41

to go off on their own now.

0:41:410:41:43

So that may well be the trouble,

0:41:430:41:44

because they are so young, they have taken off and left where they have came from,

0:41:440:41:47

but not known where to go.

0:41:470:41:49

But the second bird is not as cooperative.

0:41:500:41:53

All right, it's all right.

0:41:530:41:55

Hear it hissing.

0:41:590:42:01

So the swans are safe,

0:42:030:42:04

and catching them has helped Craig work up an appetite.

0:42:040:42:08

We are going to head off and get some tea.

0:42:080:42:11

It's a happy ending. Two uninjured swans, for once.

0:42:140:42:16

They've been lucky.

0:42:160:42:18

Later, the swans were released at a local park, where, hopefully,

0:42:250:42:29

they will stick to rivers rather than roads.

0:42:290:42:33

Alan's drug seizure eventually led to police finding a further 26 kilos

0:42:330:42:38

of illegal drugs with a street value of more than a third of a million pounds

0:42:380:42:42

and also led to the closure of a cannabis farm.

0:42:420:42:45

And Paul finally shifted his champion cows...

0:42:460:42:49

Good lad.

0:42:490:42:50

..and got them back up the A1 to their Yorkshire home.

0:42:500:42:54

Next time, a pile-up on the carriageway...

0:42:540:42:58

Lanes one and two are blocked, so effectively the A1 North is shut.

0:42:580:43:01

..puts lives at risk.

0:43:010:43:03

Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

0:43:030:43:05

Highway overload...

0:43:050:43:07

This is very dangerous.

0:43:070:43:09

That could have burst at any time.

0:43:090:43:10

..as officers clamp down on illegal vehicles.

0:43:100:43:13

As it stands, we cannot permit this vehicle to proceed on its journey.

0:43:130:43:17

And fires on the Tyne push police officers to the limit.

0:43:170:43:21

There is a lot of explosives within a car.

0:43:210:43:24

Really, really dangerous.

0:43:240:43:25

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