Deborah Williams’ TV diary

Deborah Williams’ TV diary

Deborah Williams
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Deborah Williams is reluctant to take off her PJs before she heads to Manchester for a surprising turn of events.

It is always a pleasure to start the working week in your PJs and know that you can stay in them for most of the day, having meetings without anyone knowing or caring.

It is one of the rare weeks when I will spend the majority of it out of London. I am going to Manchester to attend an awards ceremony where I have been nominated for an Inclusive Companies award.

I am looking forward to it as the whole Brexit, leaving Europe thing and general election result has been getting on my nerves.

Working for the Creative Diversity Network means that you end up trawling through the worst of people’s thinking and understanding (or lack thereof) of what diversity is, and how it’s a positive in an increasingly negative world.

My travels around the UK tell me that there are real issues that need to be discussed – but these are less to do with the colour of our passports, and more with how we support diverse talent to finance the creation of quality content.

Anyway, the first PJ meeting is a conference call with our research partners at the University of Leicester. We are at the sign-off stage on a report identifying the barriers to disabled people working off-screen in TV, and what needs to be done about these. The findings are what CDN members will be using to help the industry meet the target of doubling disability commitment by the end of 2020. No pressure there, then.​

Meeting number two – still wearing PJs – is all about day-to-day CDN business, lining up projects for the first quarter of 2020. That done, it’s off to Manchester.

Alongside the awards ceremony, I am booked into an academy school in Trafford for one of my regular “speakers for schools” sessions.

Basically, the likes of me travel across the country talking in schools to year 9s who want to know what it’s like to work in TV. Telling the story of one’s life to future generations is exhausting and exhilarating. 

"I can't share with you the first words that come out of my mouth – much too dirty"

Each time I walk away, I’m inspired. It’s great that young people want to work in television, that they do the research and ask difficult questions – and that they laugh at my terrible jokes.

Most of all, it’s great that, after my sessions, they are not deterred. 

I squeeze in a bit of personal time, and drop in on my nephew. He is a seven-year-old with the mind of a scholar. It is a short visit, but we play cards, using the deck he has designed. We discuss the world, via the globe in his bedroom, and he insists I taste the hot pepper sauce his dad has made. Ninety minutes well spent – despite his ever-strengthening Manchester accent and love of the blues, not the reds.

And, finally, to the Inclusive Companies Awards. My expectations are low: the shortlist is massive and intimidating. I hook up with my youngest sister (the nephew’s mother, in case you’ve not been taking notes).

Everyone is busy drinking fizz and taking pictures – this introvert’s idea of hell. Anyway, turns out, it’s a good thing I made the journey: I win the Lifetime Achiever Award 2019. To say that I am in shock really is an understatement. I can’t share with you the first words that come out of my mouth – much too dirty.

Once I calm down and take it in on the way home the next day, I finally allow myself to feel OK about winning. I manage to take some of my own advice: do what you do, always, because you never know who is watching.

Friday: finance day, reviewing end-of-year accounts and the monthly paying of invoices.

I jump back into online conversations, drawing up strategies and responding without sounding too pompous and self-righteous.

Which is really difficult when you’re always right.

Deborah Williams is CEO of the Creative Diversity Network.