While in my second year at the University of Lincoln studying Media Production, my first brush with the world of programme making came with some work experience offered to me by an ex student of the University.
From this first opportunity I instantly caught the media bug and so spent my 3rd year contacting anyone and everyone within the industry, in the hope of gaining more experience when I graduated. Out of the hundreds of emails I sent it took an offer from Big Brother for me to begin my career; so after handing in my dissertation early in the spring of 2005 I became a runner.
From that point onwards I’ve worked in many areas of production, including development and in formats ranging from reality TV and observational documentaries to live studio, game shows and children’s TV.
I am currently about to finish the second series of The Million Pound Drop, on the contestant team and I will go on to the third series which will air in February 2011.
Live prime time television is my favorite genre to work on; there’s nothing that beats the sound of the theme music of a programme booming out in studio, the anticipation of an excited audience, and the voice of the gallery counting down as the show begins that gives me such an adrenaline rush; that sensation is one of the reasons I do this job.
Another aspect of working in television is the variety a day can bring. Today, based at the studios in East London, I’ve met our contestants for this evening’s live show, pitched new contributors to the execs for the following days programme and phone interviewed celebrities for future episodes.
On the day of a live show there’s tight security around this programme; this is due to the million pounds in cash on site. This elevated security has a knock on effect on the schedule which must be adhered to by the second. Therefore from contestant briefing, having contributors read and sign the rules, pass through wardrobe and makeup, a studio health and safety briefing to finally going live on air, this show is a military operation (quite literally from our security team’s point of view!)
I think it’s imperative for people working in TV to always try to make contributors experiences as incredible as possible, irrelevant of the show they are part of. Without them there is no programme, and without creating something which is spectacular for our viewers to watch and so draw in high ratings, I’d be out of a job.
Television is far from the glitz and glam that many perceive it to be; it involves long days and weeks with few days off to recover and short contracts, meaning you rarely gain the job security you might find in other less engaging/exciting industries. It’s also not about the big bucks; you’re expected to initially gain experience working for free and then get paid a minimal runner’s wage when you get your ‘break’.
So why work in television you may ask? The answer is you can work on something that produces a product which is not only something to be proud of, but that the masses within the UK and even the world will watch. You will help initiate debate and maybe even inspire viewers into actions they may not have previously considered or even dreamt of.
I’ll never forget when I heard two friends gossiping on the tube about what happened in last night’s Big Brother House on a series where I’d helped to select the Housemates, or when a friend texted me to say she’d seen my name on the credits of How To Look Good Naked whilst on a flight to America. This feedback helps me to appreciate how powerful the medium of television is and how lucky I am to work within it.
Finally, even though I’m working in an industry of fame and celebrities, the friends which I’ve gathered though the plethora of programmes I’ve worked on have provided me with an industry family which I love and hold very dear; the best thing of all is that I get to work with them every single day.