Documentary series following the people who work on the A1. A lorry breakdown causes rush hour traffic chaos, and emergency response teams are called after power lines collapse.
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The A1, Britain's longest road...
..stretching almost 400 miles from the City of London
to the heart of the Scottish capital...
..connecting two nations and passing through 18 counties.
It's an unrivalled highway,
used by hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day.
We're going southbound down the A1 on the northbound carriageway.
But not all journeys go to plan.
I thought, I'm going to lose my life.
The cars are coming close.
It is a dangerous place to be.
Lives can hang in the balance.
The rear end of that vehicle, it's unrecognisable.
This is actually the bodywork of the car.
24 hours a day...
It's not a safe place here.
..there's a team of people who keep us safe from harm.
We don't know whether we've got the road closed or we don't know what's happened.
..and traffic officers...
..keeping Britain's most iconic road...
..on the move.
Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.
The A1, the monster that it is, will start to return to normal.
..a rush-hour breakdown puts lives on the line...
The effect of hitting a wagon at 40, 50, 60mph can be fatal.
..a deadly disruption
as a collapsed power line closes the A1...
The pole's either been struck by lightning
or it's been hit and it's collapsed.
Are police attending, I presume?
..and after a 240-mile journey north...
..will bad weather sabotage Sunderland's seafront spectacular?
I've rigged in some pretty bad conditions
but I think this is the worst I've ever seen.
In the north-east of England, the A1 road connects Gateshead, Sunderland,
Durham and Newcastle,
making it a vital arterial route for tens of thousands of commuters.
Rush hour is always busy and any hold-up can become a major incident
It's six o'clock, and just outside Newcastle,
patrol officer PC Alan Keenleyside is racing to the scene of the latest
incident on the southbound section of the motorway.
We've had a report of an articulated wagon broken down
in the middle lane of three.
It's looking like the brakes have locked on, on the trailer, which
is actually a common occurrence.
It's a fail-safe that HGVs have,
that if you have any issues with the braking system,
the brakes will lock on.
The priority in cases like this is to get there,
illuminate the scene as best as possible, to give advanced warning
to members of the public to slow down.
We're making our way down the A1 now.
Probably a couple of minutes away from the incident.
The truck is stranded in the middle of this busy motorway.
Traffic is travelling up to 70mph.
Alan's concerned there could be a major pile-up
and lives could be put at risk.
There may not be hazard lights at the top of the wagon so the truck
could be, to all intents and purposes, stationary,
but invisible to members of the public.
The effect of hitting a wagon at 40, 50, 60mph,
if it's stationary, can be fatal.
I'm going to have to start fighting through the traffic, here.
Members of the public, they've had a long day in the office
and this is a major inconvenience to them getting home.
Traffic officers are already on the scene,
warning drivers of the blockage.
Get some cones out and just cone it off.
The priority now is to make the area safe by sealing off the inside lane
so a recovery vehicle can gain access.
What we're hoping to happen by doing this,
we're going to be able to get up the near side of the wagon,
do some remedial repairs and get the vehicle moving,
so it might look like we're being a bit extreme but by doing this,
hopefully, the vehicle will be moving in the next few minutes.
If it doesn't work, it's going to be a big recovery.
Two lanes are now closed and hundreds of vehicles are caught up
in the tailbacks. It's frustrating for commuters, but a necessity.
Unfortunately, what we can't have is
a stranded vehicle in the middle lane
and have two lanes of vehicles moving either side of it.
I know people will think this is probably crazy.
We just can't have it, all right?
So people will be driving past going,
"What's wrong with the left-hand lane?"
People are going to be moving around this wagon to affect the repairs to
try and get the vehicle going.
We can't have cars driving past.
All it takes is one person, because naturally,
when people look to the right, the car goes to the right.
When people look to the left, the car goes to the left.
We can't afford that to be happening both sides of the wagon.
In this case, we've closed the slow lane and we're now going to be
working to try and get this wagon repaired.
Within just five minutes, the area is secure,
but the recovery vehicle is still half an hour away.
What we've got now is five, six miles of traffic building up behind.
What we need to do now is link in with the recovery firm and get that
wagon here as quickly as we possibly can to get this wagon moved,
because I used to like my rugby and I used to play at a reasonable level
but I couldn't push that! Definitely not.
Alan has done all he can to make the area safe.
-It couldn't happen at a worse place, worse time, could it?
-No, it's terrible.
Mechanical breakdown with a vehicle, best will in the world,
you just can't do anything with it.
But with stop-start traffic, the risk of a major accident
further north is growing with every second that passes.
Highways England and Transport Scotland deal with over
4,000 breakdowns every year and each one brings its own challenges.
Head south of Newcastle and the A1 takes drivers through the farming
fields of North Yorkshire to the coalfields of South Yorkshire,
where traffic officers Paul Day and Rob Larkin are on duty.
Got one on the hard shoulder, up here.
They're following up a report about
a broken-down car just past Doncaster.
It's an incident first dealt with by the night shift.
He's had a blowout. He's been given a reasonable time to get it sorted,
so we're going back to make sure that what he's said is right.
-And he's left.
Paul and Rob are hoping the car has long gone by now.
If he's still there, obviously we have to take
another course of action.
In the reasonable time that we've given him,
we expect him to have dealt with it and have gone.
And that reasonable time is sort of a standardised time limit
and it's two hours.
But the car hasn't moved and there's no sign of its driver.
HE TALKS INTO RADIO
Until suddenly, he appears from across the fields.
I'll come and talk to you in a minute. Just give me a minute.
13, apologies, at 16 over six Bravo A1M.
We've got the vehicle that should've been removed.
Yeah, I'll just have a word with the driver but it is still in situ.
-They got it at 5:50.
-So it's had a good 3.5 hours.
He's had a long enough time to shift it, so he needs to be moving
or we need to know why it's still here.
Around 50 people are killed or severely injured in hard shoulder
accidents each year. This car is parked on a bend,
leaving other motorists less time to react.
It is particularly narrow, this bit.
It's known for getting a lot of accidents.
I'm not happy about being here myself, to be honest.
The driver, Bogdan,
explains he struggled to change the tyre himself.
He doesn't have breakdown cover but he has called a friend to come and help.
I wait for a friend to bring me a key to change the wheel.
I appreciate that, but you've been here 3.5 hours.
-Where's your friend?
-Where? From where?
From Royston to here.
-Royston at Barnsley?
While Paul tries to trace Bogdan's friend, Rob needs to ensure
other drivers are aware of the hazard on the hard shoulder.
Where are you exactly?
You're eight miles from here?
-He's still at home.
-Still at home?
The fact his friend hasn't even left home is not good news for Bogdan.
He saying it's 15 minutes, but he's still at home.
Why is he still at home three hours after he should've been here?
I don't know, because don't find me.
So, has he come to here and gone back again?
-You can ask.
Yeah, I have but he's still at home. That's what I'm saying.
You're saying he's in Doncaster, and he's not.
No, because he's going in Doncaster,
don't find me, and I think he's going home.
It's not illegal to drive without breakdown cover, but Bogdan's
stranded car is posing a risk.
If he doesn't move it soon, Paul will call the recovery truck
and Bogdan will be landed with a hefty bill.
As the only road to link London and Edinburgh,
the A1 is key for UK industry,
allowing the transport of freight across 18 different counties.
Tens of thousands of trucks use the A1 every day to move goods around
the country, and now, 30 miles north of the road's starting point,
a firework display team is preparing for an explosive weekend.
Right. Big boys.
Matt Matthews and Fraser McFarlane
are preparing to head 240 miles north on the A1 to Sunderland
with over a tonne of fireworks in transit.
I want to see what flavour it is. It's a lemon strobe.
Yes, they're quite nice. They are nice effects.
These aren't for public purchase.
The bigger the sound, the bigger the boom, the bigger the bang,
the bigger the smile on my face.
And big ones that do go bang and do hold in the sky
definitely get a whoop from the crowd.
The fireworks will be used in the city's Bonfire Night display.
Just wedge those so they don't roll away.
And ferrying this precious cargo smoothly up the A1
means safety always comes first.
When we're transporting the fireworks,
the vehicles that we use have to be to a certain standard.
The fireworks are kept secure so, one, they can't be
damaged in transit, and, two, they can't be stolen.
They are volatile, so anything explosive is volatile.
Before their journey,
every single firework must be checked and waterproofed.
This is where we get our practising for Christmas, wrapping presents.
I can never find the end.
Waterproofing is very important.
We cannot guarantee it's going to be a nice, shiny day.
From a weather perspective, high winds can push fireworks
in the totally wrong direction that we want them to go in.
That is probably one of the highest factors that will stop the display.
But the weather isn't their only concern.
Matt and Fraser need to know exactly what they are carrying
at any given moment.
This is one of the things you take with you
if you have to evacuate the vehicle.
What is down here, isn't it? Explosive mass.
Mass weight is about a tonne.
That's a lot.
With all of the checks complete...
-That is it.
-..Matt and Fraser can finally hit the road.
Sunderland, here we come.
After 20 minutes, the pair join the A1, just north of Stevenage.
Their job means they're well used to driving along this road,
so it's a good job they like it.
North of Newcastle, there's some stunning scenery.
The sea is so close to the edge of the A1
and it's absolutely fantastic.
Really nice up there.
It is a good, ideal road.
That if you're going to come from Scotland all the way down to London,
you just have one road.
You couldn't ask for a better route, anyway.
With the final destination Sunderland,
the great north road will take Matt and Fraser through nine different
counties - plenty of time to think about what awaits them.
You know you're going to see, probably, some of the best firework
displays that are going to go up over this weekend, or any weekend.
There is a bit of anticipation, as well.
Cos it's such a big, public one, as well.
Until we actually get there, there's a bit of the unknown.
But the forecast for the north-east is strong winds and storms.
After hours on the road, could bad weather scupper their plans
for the fireworks to go off with a bang?
Just ten miles west of Sunderland,
the A1 hits a busy three-lane stretch on the edge of
the north-east's biggest city, Newcastle.
And now, traffic is at a standstill.
A lorry's brakes have seized up on the southbound side,
meaning two lanes have been closed.
A1 patrol officer PC Alan Keenleyside
is battling to get the motorway open as quickly as possible.
We've tried to reset the systems on this wagon.
Unfortunately, it's been unsuccessful.
We're going to have to arrange a recovery.
For 30 minutes, two lanes of the motorway have been closed.
There's already more than six miles of standing traffic.
The truck's driver is Joe Steele.
So, what's the crack, Joe? What's happened?
Stuck in traffic, coming up the hill.
And, obviously, it was moving slowly.
Next thing I know, the brakes lock on.
And, obviously, I just checked it over and it's not...
Great. Brakes on the trailer?
Brakes on the trailer. So it's just not ...
There's no pressure. You can hear the hissing coming from the front.
-So there's a leak somewhere.
And that's a fail-safe of the trailer, isn't it?
-So if you've got an issue,
they'll lock on, rather than not work.
-So the pressure actually keeps the brakes...
It locks it on when you start it up,
the pressure takes it off and when the pressure fails,
it actually locks the brakes on, doesn't it?
Yeah. Safety features.
Joe uses the A1 regularly,
transporting freight between the north-east and Yorkshire.
So he can sympathise with his fellow road users.
I'm frustrated for everyone else, so I find it very frustrating.
It's just causing... Causing chaos, you know.
I couldn't foresee it, otherwise I would've chosen lane one to be in,
so I wouldn't have caused so much trouble for everyone else.
The brakes have decided they don't want to play ball today.
So, you know, just unlucky.
Unlucky day. Unlucky day.
Finally though, after 45 minutes, the truck mechanic is on the scene.
-Hello, mate, you all right?
Just go on, you've got lane one to work in, as well,
so fill your boots, all right?
He can hear the engine revving.
He's trying to get the air in the system to build up pressure to
release the brakes. So by revving that engine,
it's going to get the air pressure up as quick as he can,
so this is the mechanic just triaging the wagon.
This is like what a doctor does in resus with a patient.
And this is what the mechanic's doing.
And you can hear the air coming out the front of the wagon, here,
so there's clearly an issue that may still require...
Even though the mechanic's here, it may still require recovery.
You can hear the air coming out of there.
That shouldn't be sounding like that.
It's not looking good...
..and tailbacks are growing with every second that passes.
But in situations like this,
light relief can be found in the most unlikely of places.
Terry the turtle.
Does it...? Does he get some smiles from kids and things?
Yeah, he does, yeah. Puts smiles on people's faces.
That's what it's all about, isn't it?
-What it's about.
-Bit of cheekiness.
But, today, it's the mechanic who's putting smiles on faces.
He's managed to patch up the brakes, meaning the truck can leave the A1.
Happy with that, all right? No worries, at all. I'll follow you up.
Yeah, I'll follow you up, all right? Just in case there's an issue.
But get into this lane straightaway, all right? Right, lads!
And Alan and the other traffic officers can reopen the road.
A1's back open, my colleagues in the Highways Agency have just lifted
that now, so cars should be starting to come past here.
Again, it will be getting up to around 40, 50mph.
I would imagine, however,
we're going to be looking at the best part of 40 minutes, 45 minutes,
until the backlog starts to work its way through.
This is where it gets quite frustrating for members of the
public because they're sitting in a traffic jam and all of a sudden,
they get there and there's nothing apparent.
It's just that residual traffic that we need to start moving
through the scene to get going again.
Alan escorts the lorry to some local services for further checks.
This is actually a truck stop,
so the driver will spend the night here.
He's actually gone out of hours as a result of this breakdown.
And he's now due a 15-hour lay down overnight.
So this is him parking up.
This will be his bedroom for the next 15 hours.
Despite rush-hour delays for commuters,
Alan has helped get this stretch of the A1 moving again
without any serious incidents.
It is pretty rare for a vehicle to stop in a live lane at rush-hour.
It's pretty rare. So when it happens, it does test us.
We've got to get there quickly, we've got to make it safe.
We've also got to think outside the box a little bit
to get the issue rectified.
The A1 near Washington is a three-lane stretch of motorway
and as the stranded HGV proved, just one incident can cause chaos.
But between Newcastle and Edinburgh,
the road alternates between dual and single carriageway.
It takes motorists through some of
the UK's most spectacular landscapes,
but when there's a problem, there is literally nowhere to turn.
In the Newcastle CCTV control room, Ian Lee is the man responsible for
keeping the traffic flowing in one of the busiest sections of the A1.
Adam, can you drop that camera for us?
It's now October and it's the Friday before half-term,
so the A1 will soon be busy with people heading out on holiday.
Yeah, we have in excess of 60, 70 cameras that cover the A1,
predominantly around the A1 western bypass.
You know, there's a nice one with the Angel Of The North
in the background. That's an accident blackspot.
Blaydon Bridge, that crosses the Tyne.
There's no hard shoulder on the bridge.
So when something does break down,
traffic does start coming to a standstill really quickly.
So far, apart from the odd breakdown, it's been a quiet shift.
I'll get two to go to the other one.
And then we'll sort it out from there, mate.
It's a bit of an average day.
We're not having anything overstretched.
But, to be honest, within five minutes, that could soon change.
And just minutes later, Ian's prediction comes true.
NCC, you're speaking to Adam.
Reports are coming in that live electricity cables have fallen onto
the carriageway, blocking the road.
It's a ScottishPower cable.
It's attached to a pole going across the A1.
And the pole's either been struck by lightning or it's been hit
and it's collapsed and the cables are across the floor.
Are police attending, I presume?
We don't know whether they've got the road closed, or...
We don't know what's happened.
It's potentially a very dangerous situation,
and it could hardly have happened in a worse location.
The actual incident is within this section.
It's single carriageway up at Berwick.
There's very little dual carriageway up there.
So it does have potential to cause disruption to a lot of traffic.
The timing's also going to cause issues.
It's Friday, before the half-term, so we are getting the...
It's historically the last week of caravanning,
so we will have a lot of people travelling for long weekends.
Probably in the next two hours,
the traffic will be picking up in that area.
So we'll hopefully be looking to resolve this
in the next couple of hours.
With one of the major roads between England and Scotland closed,
it's a serious accident and Ian needs to head to the scene.
Kelvin, is ScottishPower at scene at the minute, over?
In Berwick, the road is closed in both directions.
Traffic is being sent on a five-mile diversion.
1-1, I'm now at scene, I'm going to be liaising with contractors, over.
-I'll await your update.
I understand the cables have gone down, is that right?
-This is what's happened.
-Pole's snapped right at the top.
There's obviously been a problem up here with one of these dishes.
-It's burnt away.
And it's been trying to track down the pole.
What it's done is it's hit the weakest point
and the pole's snapped.
Right, got you.
But with the cables suspended,
Ian's struggling to grasp why the A1 cannot be reopened.
Sorry, just for my ignorance, I suppose,
this vehicle's doing what at the minute?
It's holding up this line.
-Once we release the tension on these conductors...
-..there's nothing holding that line up.
-Oh, sorry, that way.
-Got you. Right.
So from post, that way. Right.
There's no way the road can open until the work is complete.
The question's been asked just from my hierarchy down south,
is can we get this open in the near future?
Right. I've already discussed it with the guys in the bottom, there.
I would be reluctant to let traffic come through here.
The road has already been closed for three and a half hours
and it's now approaching tea-time on a half term weekend.
But there's nothing Ian can do but wait.
Six counties away near Doncaster,
two traffic officers also have a problem to deal with.
A car has been sat on the hard shoulder of this busy stretch for
three hours and Paul Day and Rob Larkin need it shifting.
I've phoned your friend, he says he's 15 minutes away, which is fine.
But because you've had over the time that they've given you...
-..what I'm going to do,
is I'm going to start our removal process going.
It won't matter to you, it just means that they're running
and if he can't find you or something else goes wrong,
this can't stay here any longer.
-So what they'll do,
they'll come and they'll remove the car from the side of the motorway.
Safest place, which is the next junction.
And that will be the cost. OK?
The driver, Bogdan, has been waiting for his friend to come and rescue
him ever since his tyre blew out. But his friend hasn't shown up.
He's called somebody. He's saying that they can't find him.
So he's gone to a house up here
to then use their phone to call him again.
I've rung him again and he's saying he's eight miles away.
This lad's saying he's in Royston, which is eight miles away.
So what I think we do, is we get start rolling, regardless...
..and we give it 15 minutes.
I think that's the safest way.
Yeah. Well, he's had his time, hasn't he?
-He's had three hours. He's had three and a half hours.
Though hard shoulders can be used for emergencies,
they are not the safest place to stop.
Now Paul has spotted something that makes this incident
even more dangerous. Bogdan's wife is still in the car.
Has your wife got a warm coat?
Yes, blanket from her sister.
Right, she needs to get out of the car,
because if any of these come across here and hit that car,
-there will be trouble, all right?
Highways England's advice is always to stand away from your vehicle
in event of a breakdown, whatever the weather.
Keep watching traffic, because it's dangerous, all right?
Doreen was on her way to an interview,
an interview she will now miss.
I'm OK. I'm a little disappointed
because I didn't get to the interview.
I will send them an e-mail when I get home.
It was for team manager, the interview.
Yes, I am pretty sad about it because it was a good job.
We will see.
If the couple don't shift the car soon,
a removal truck will move it for them and it will cost £150.
But just as Bogdan is starting to give up hope about his friend showing up...
This could be him. The guy on the bridge.
You need to tell this fella how to get here.
..he appears, albeit in the wrong place.
Luckily, Rob knows a quick route down and soon the elusive friend
can get to work, with a bit of help from Paul.
Don't lift it any higher than that.
Take them nuts out, and then hit it.
Because I don't think that wheel will come off.
I think the wheel will be stuck on, because it's absolutely solid, that.
Because them wheel nuts were so tight, the alloy's fused to the hub.
It oxidises and it causes a really tight seal.
It happens a lot.
I don't want it too high, because he's got to get that wheel off.
The wheel is fixed, and all's well that, after three and a half hours,
finally ends well.
I'm now happy because everything is OK.
And there's just some time for some friendly advice from Paul.
If you ever need it again,
you need to use the emergency phones at the side of the road.
They tell you, tell us, exactly where you are,
and you can talk to us.
Then our control room could have put you through to your friend
and patched you in, and it would have been resolved on the phone.
Yeah? All right?
So just keep that in mind when you are travelling up and down.
Thank you, thank you.
OK, hope your job goes OK.
And thanks to the traffic officers,
Bogdan and his wife, Doreen, are back on the road.
100 miles north of Doncaster,
the A1 nears the Tyne and Wear city of Sunderland.
Today, plans are underway for a huge fireworks display.
But heavy storms are battering the seafront.
Organiser Steve Hobbs has travelled up the A1
directly from a rather sunnier south of England.
I set out this morning, and I was feeling quite optimistic.
I was looking at the blue sky and no clouds.
Probably about Wetherby, I think it was, or something,
the clouds started to close in.
Unfortunately, the old cliche of it being cold and wet in the North
seemed to be coming to light.
Certainly when I came round the corner here to get to the first
sight of the pier and saw the waves crashing over it,
I thought I was going to have a challenging day.
Meanwhile, Matt and Fraser have also arrived with their fireworks
for tonight's event.
I was expecting it to be nice sunshine and calm winds.
Unfortunately, we've got high winds, rain, and we've had sleet as well.
Not what I was anticipating.
My car felt like it was going to blow over.
I've just got my boots on.
The wind caught the van.
If it turns, we'll just have to pull the plug.
With such rough conditions, Steve must brief the team.
Welcome to Sunderland.
This is our firing site.
We are not going right out to the end, because, as you can see,
the water is breaking over it.
Obviously, please be very careful.
Tarpaulins, bags, tool boxes, cars, may blow over the side.
We've got to compensate for the wind, so we need to angle this way,
I think, to spread the show a bit.
They've just told me the forecast for this evening is 37 knots.
If it's going to be that strong, I'm not at all sure
whether it's going to be worth doing the show.
But what I'll probably do is call the organisers
-to see what they think. All right?
-Can I go get an ice cream?
After ferrying one tonne of fireworks on the A1 for hours,
Matt and Fraser are keen to put on a display, rain or shine.
But organiser Steve is still worried that tonight
could be a wash-out.
The biggest fear I've got is that
if we get the water breaking over the side of the breakwater -
you can see it is pretty high on the side, there -
we really don't want the electrics of the show to be doused
in salt water, because that would cause us problems.
I'm extremely cold, but I'm still dry.
-Me, I'm drenched.
I can feel it. I'm soaked.
But then the bad weather closes in.
Steve's concerns are growing,
so he calls head office for a second opinion.
-As it stands, as a show, worst case, we can't fire,
-we don't even think we can set it up.
Best-case scenario, we have to pull the big ones out,
but we'll also need to knock time off the show.
That's helpful, thanks.
What Reno suggested, which is a good compromise,
is the possibility that we cut the show back, take the shells out,
because they're the high-flying effects which will take off most
in the wind. That would allow us to come closer in shore,
because of the smaller effects.
I've never had to pull a show before.
I've rigged in some pretty bad conditions,
but I think this is the worst I've ever seen.
There's no point doing an unsatisfactory show to two guys
and a dog standing on the beach at nine o'clock at night.
If conditions don't improve, Steve could be forced to pull the plug.
Could Matt and Fraser's great journey have been for nothing?
Keeping the A1 moving is a priority for any traffic incident manager.
80 miles north of Sunderland in Berwick, though,
Ian Lee has a huge problem.
On this stretch of single-lane road, the A1 has been completely closed
for four hours after a power cable fell onto the carriageway.
-Problems currently on the A1 at Berwick,
they've closed the A1 there.
All traffic is having to divert through Berwick.
Ian is battling to get the road reopened,
because busy half-term traffic is mounting up.
-In terms of the incident, I know you're at the scene,
have you got any other update?
I can give you an update. I've been here literally ten minutes.
I've spoke to SP Energy, who are the contractors for this area.
There's now no cables at all on the A1,
but what we do have is a four-wheel drive vehicle keeping the tension on
the existing three cables that are crossing,
that go to things like customers' houses, etc, etc.
This tension can't be released.
Is that work planned to take the next eight hours, Ian,
in terms of getting those works done?
At the minute all he's given us is that original time slot.
I suspect he gave me one of them looks as if to say,
"If you stop talking to us,
"I'll get it done quicker as well," but, erm...
There's nothing more Ian can do
than wait while the engineers try to fix the lines.
Over the top far side now.
So the road has been shut for quite some time now.
The original incident came in around 12.40 this afternoon.
It's now 6.35, so we're still looking at probably about 10.30,
11 o'clock reopening time.
With a damaged pole and cables already being replaced,
the engineers are making better progress than expected.
Contractor John finally has some encouraging news for Ian.
If all is good, I don't want to...
Oh, go on, excite us, mate.
If all is good...
-That will do for us.
Might get back for the last gin and tonic.
Two hours on, John has proved as good as his word.
The repairs are now complete.
Now Ian needs to get the road moving once more.
The incident support, they will go down to the bottom closure now.
As soon as we make sure that the southbound is clear,
they will open that and we will also strip back the northbound
and then the road will be fully open.
You know, three hours ahead of schedule
is an absolute bonus for us.
For Ian, it's been a successful end to a tough day...
..and he might even get home for that drink after all.
Nearly 200 miles south, the A1 cuts through the heart of Yorkshire.
It's rush hour and just west of Doncaster, traffic officers
Paul Day and Rob Larkin are trying to reach
a couple with a baby who have broken down on the hard shoulder.
We have driven past a breakdown. Unfortunately we are in the wrong
lane to get behind it so we have driven round to attend it.
The lady is out of the car but she's carrying a young kid with her
so we will go and welfare this, make sure she's all right.
This stretch of the A1 is unlit, so anybody stranded
by the side of the road is particularly vulnerable.
But if they are trying to look after children,
the risks are even greater.
-How are you doing?
-You all right?
-What's the problem?
-Literally coming down there.
-Just conked out on me.
-Luckily I was on the side of the lane, so...
Yeah. I've phoned a recovery truck anyway, they're on their way out.
They said they will be here in about 20 minutes.
-Fantastic. What's your name, boss?
Standing away from the car and with recovery en route,
they are doing everything they should,
but Paul is still keen to make sure they are safe and warm.
Do you want a foil blanket for him?
-We'll sort it out.
I'll nip back and get you a foil blanket then.
Do you want one? Are you warm enough?
-I'm all right.
While Paul gets the blankets, Rob assesses the traffic.
We are between junctions 36 and 37 on the northbound.
For me, in particular, this is a horrible stretch of road.
The hard shoulder is no thinner than normal but it just seems to be that
here, it feels a lot more unsafe than anywhere else.
I mean this traffic, we've had nearly a couple of bumper scuffs
because it's moving slowly,
but it's just a horrible stretch of road, it really is.
It's one of the most uncomfortable bits that I work on.
Checking up on stranded drivers offering reassurance and assistance
is an important part of a traffic officer's work.
All good? There you go.
-Then you go like that, you go like that.
And it's a welcome presence for Miles and Heather.
The first time I've ever broke down in my car, this,
so it's pretty... Mayhem, really. Scary.
So there's not much places you can go, just keep yourself safe.
You are doing the right thing. Keep your eye on traffic behind you.
Right, boss, I'll pass your details onto our control room and they'll
-give you a ring, just make sure you're on your way.
It looks like it's oil or something because it looks like
it's all mucky at the back, but it could be anything,
so, everything is good from our point of view.
As long as you're warm enough, we're all right.
-Thanks very much.
-Not a problem, mate. See you later.
Paul and Rob are satisfied the young family is out of harm's way,
but checking on motorists with children
is always a top priority for traffic officers on the A1.
Wherever there's kids involved, we do stop straight away, don't we?
Yes. They get cold really quickly.
They don't seem to be able to maintain their body heat.
Well, you've got a heightened vigilance with kids.
Rob and Paul's swift action has helped yet more motorists stay safe
on the A1, and this family will soon be heading home in time for supper.
100 miles north of Doncaster in Sunderland,
the city's annual firework display is in jeopardy.
Following a 240-mile trip up the A1 from Luton to Sunderland,
Steve Hobbs and his team of experts are battling torrential rain to
stage one of the biggest firework shows in the north of England.
But the weather could mean the whole event is called off.
These are the hardest conditions I've ever done a show in.
The waves are crashing over, the wind...
It's been a challenge.
But despite the conditions,
the organisers have now told Steve they want to carry on regardless.
I'm not really surprised they want to push ahead.
I mean, they've invested in a big event.
It's a big deal to suddenly say, "Hey, we can't go ahead."
I mean, it's pretty rare for people to pull the plug on something
at such short notice.
I mean a bit of me almost wishes they did
because we are stuck out here in the pouring rain
but hopefully it will all go off as intended.
And finally, despite the high winds and lashing rain,
the team have done it, and there's even time to spare for a quick brew.
Sante. Cheers, everyone.
When this is made into a film, I want to be played by Russell Crowe.
All they need now are some spectators.
I have absolutely no idea how many people might turn up.
So far, my sample of one person in the cafe
said she wasn't going to stay to watch us!
It's quarter past nine, and despite the rain,
the crowds begin to gather.
And Steve has new concerns.
I don't know what's going to happen when we push the buttons.
We've had sea water breaking over some of the positions
we have rigged, so there's a risk that some stuff won't fire.
I think for all of us, it's a challenging exercise, so let's hope
we can bring it to a close successfully.
With the crowds expecting to be blown away,
it's the moment of truth.
Box on, let's have the box armed.
Let's go in three, two, one...
Cue two, go!
After a long journey north and facing the worst possible weather,
it's a great outcome as the skies over Sunderland are on fire.
Everybody has worked really, really hard today
and we are one happy bunch.
Stand by cue three, and go.
I heard some cheering -
I'm not sure if that was the crew or the audience!
For how much effort we've had to put in,
for what we've had to tolerate today, that was spot on.
That was teamwork and it was absolutely perfect.
Tomorrow the team will head back on the A1 again to the south.
For now, the work is done.
Once we've packed up, we're off down to a hotel
and we will get showered,
we will get dried, and if the bar is open,
we may have a little celebration, who knows?
The family who broke down on the A1
were recovered just a short time later and transported home.
The lorry's brakes were fixed at the services,
allowing the driver to continue his deliveries.
And the day after the display,
the fireworks team headed back down the A1 and on to France.
Next time: Police pull a suspected stolen car...
We've had a report this car is stolen.
..and its driver lands in double trouble.
Have you been drinking, mate? I can smell drink on you.
A truck breakdown...
We have got a live lane coming out here,
just watch traffic coming there.
..puts lives on the line.
Keep going. Steady.
And after a six-hour journey on the A1,
will this pampered pooch bring home the big prize?
Pretty stiff competition, so if we do well, we've done really well.
A lorry breakdown causes rush hour traffic chaos, emergency response teams are called after power lines collapse, and a fireworks display team faces having to abandon a seafront spectacular due to bad weather.