Working in television was never on the cards for Angela Jain, whose parents wanted her to become a doctor. Now Managing Director at ITV Studios Entertainment, she reflects on how her have-a-go approached resulted in a unique CV.
Why a career in TV is for everyone
“It’s important to demystify television and make you realise that TV is a great place to work…
“As a second generation British-born Indian no one in my family had ever worked in the media before. Of my siblings two are lawyers and one is an environmental scientist.
“Ideally my folks would have liked me to be a good Asian doctor but I’m afraid I wasn’t bright enough. I was quite musical but my parents didn’t want me to do anything that was to do with the creative businesses.
“I went to a bog-standard school at which the careers advice was ‘Try and leave school at 16 without becoming pregnant.’
“Working in TV wasn’t in my line of sight. There were no aspirations to forge a successful career. If I can do it anyone in this room can do it.”
My first break in TV
“I blagged my way into university where it was basically economics and social sciences. Everyone either went into the law or got a job in the City.
“I went for a board interview at the BBC to be a TV researcher. It was totally intimidating, a bit like X Factor – five people behind a desk, all very stuffy and old school.
“I didn’t pass the board but one of the interviewers rang me afterwards and said ‘I think you should have got the job, how can I help you?’
“That led to me getting my first job in TV as a researcher on a BBC children’s music programme called The Ozone. It turned out to be the most exciting introduction to TV you could imagine.”
Follow the job, not the money
“I’ve always followed the job and not the money. If I’ve really wanted to do something, I’ve just done it.
“After my first job in TV working at the BBC I was a freelance for three or four years doing everything from working in entertainment to coming up with documentary ideas.
“This meant I had the most bonkers, incomprehensible CV. One day I’d be making a show about young entrepreneurs for Channel 4, then I’d go and make an entertainment show.
“I’d do whatever I fancied but in the end it made sense when the genre called factual entertainment began to emerge.
“I was one of the very few people who could demonstrate at a relatively senior level – i.e. as a producer – that I’d done a bit of everything.
“The randomness of my career suddenly made sense.”
Angela Jain was in conversation with Boyd Hilton at the RTS Student Programme Masterclass