Ahead of RTS Futures' The Reality of Reality TV event, Becky Crosthwaite, Senior Producer at ITV Studios, shares her story of working in reality TV
There are so many different jobs in the reality TV field, from Story, Art, Gallery and Edit Producing to Directing, and the best way to get into the genre is usually as a Runner or Logger. When I started out in TV I didn't know games teams existed but I knew I wanted to work in a creative and ideas-based environment. I worked in a few development departments, but it was frustrating pouring my heart and soul into creating formats that sadly sometimes just wouldn't get commissioned. Then when I heard about games from a colleague, it was like fireworks going off in my head. Games = development, but you can have an idea, get it signed off on the spot, designed, built, tested and filmed to TX the next day. Miracles do happen. I was in there like a shot applying to any talent managers I knew and asking friends for contacts, stalking credits, trying to work out email addresses that I could send my CV to, checking out social media TV job sites like The Unit List, The Talent Manager, etc. Eventually I got a job in the task team at Big Brother and I’ve never looked back.
Reality TV is a genre that has naturally progressed over the years and, for me, has never grown old. Take the juggernaut that is Big Brother for example. I remember my brother telling me at the dinner table about this ground-breaking concept. My family tuned in and saw the amazing Nasty Nick writing notes and failing an army assault course task while he was lying about being in the Territorial Army to his fellow housemates. I was hooked and would make sure I was right there in front of the TV whenever it was on.
Looking back at those memorable moments, they look and feel dated, which of course they should as they capture that moment in time. However, you tune into Big Brother now and there can be multiple tasks in a day driving stories, the cast are exciting to watch and the house itself looks totally different every time. Big Brother has naturally evolved to stay on trend and reflect our society today.
Reality TV itself has moved on in so many different ways too and that’s one of the reasons why it is still such a successful genre. I have recently been working on the revamped Love Island, which tore up the format schedules and left the show running orders empty, making it completely reactive to generated content. The whole series was based on a ‘bible’ of format challenges that the execs could throw in at any time to complement and accelerate the storylines going on in the villa.
Read the rest of Becky's blog on The Talent Manager.