WDIV's Tim Pamplin, the 'Nightcam' guy, is Taking a Buyout After 30 Years

June 26, 2024, 12:16 PM by  Allan Lengel

Devin Scillian (l) with Tim Pamplin in China in 2005. (Photo from Pamplin)

WDIV's Tim Pamplin, aka the "Nightcam" guy, whose signature English accent is far more recognizable to Detroit TV viewers than his face, puts it best in his own bio:

You've seen his work, but maybe not seen his face. Tim Pamplin, better known as Nightcam, has been an elusive fan favorite since 1999.

Since moving to Detroit in 1994 he has become an important part of the WDIV News team, both as a photojournalist who captures incredible images and as a reporter bringing home the breaking news first on the scene.

Pamplin did his camera work, but also his own reports as a one-man band. Viewers heard his voice, but never saw his face. (See some of his reports below)

For Detroit TV, it was unique concept, almost as if this mysterious English man from across the pond got lost, suddenly took to reporting in the streets of the Motor City, then never left. Some camera work included trips overseas for WDIV. He traveled to China with anchor Devin Scillian and was with then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the Middle East. Other times he showed up to local fires and crimes or gave a tour of Detroit's potholes.

Tim Pamplin (with camera) in Honduras in 1998. (Pamplin photo)

Now, after more than 30 years, the 56-year-old is taking a buyout, along with a number of other off-camera and on-camera notables at WDIV including Bernie Smilovitz, Rod Meloni, Paula Tutman and Mara MacDonald. His last day is Monday. 

"I'm part of the mass exodus," he tells Deadline Detroit. "I love it and I hate it. As humans we hate change, right? But when the corporate overlords put a bunch of money in front of you, and then say, 'hey you want this?' It was just a really really good offer."

He posted this on Tuesday, posing in 2001 with then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the United Arab Emerates.

His on-air shtick began several years after joining WDIV. He responded to a fire at the Studabaker Plant on Piquette Avenue in Detroit. He was the only WDIV reporter at the fire and ended up doing a live freestyle report, showing video and speaking for 20 minutes, but never showing his face on camera.

Nancy Derringer wrote in Deadline Detroit in 2020:

Growing up in Cambridge, England, Pamplin watched “It’s a Knockout” on the telly, a goofy competition show that required teams of adults to perform stunts – log-rolling, say, while the other team tries to knock the roller off with a water cannon. He was riveted by the camera operators running alongside the competitors, which seemed to him like the best way to have the fun without having to actually roll the log. That interest led him to a sputtering career start as a freelancer in England, a hasty marriage to a Californian who led him to the U.S., a trailing-spouse move to Detroit, green-card permanent residency and, after the marriage fell apart, a career goal finally reached: First, work for a Big Three TV-production shop and then, a job interview at WDIV.

The news director, entranced by his accent, said, “Monty Python,” and the two started trading lines from the classic comedy troupe.

“It went on for a while, but I guess I remembered enough,” Pamplin says. “I got the job.”

Pamplin, who is married and has grown children, says he plans this summer to spend more time gardening and hanging out with his three-year-old granddaughter. He says he wants to keep working in the business and plans to stick around town. He lives in northern Oakland County.

"I'm not so old that I'm going to go off into senility. I still have my wits about me. I've still got my health and my next chapter has yet to be written. It's basically a blank page. It's a blank canvas, I'm getting my paint brushes... and I'm about to see what we make of it."

"Detroit has become my defacto home. This place fits me really well. I love Detroit as a news town. It's the best news town around. I can't see myself going anywhere else."

He said he's grateful to WDIV "for giving me the width to be able to to what I wanted to do. It's been a great career."

He said he'll miss his colleagues.

"I mean ostensibly it is our family, very dysfunctional, but tell me a family that doesn't have a certain amount of dysfunction. I'm going to stay in touch. People you get close with after 30 years or so, you can't help but stay close to them and check in with them and see how things are going, and get together."

Below are some of his reports

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