RTS bursary student Lydia Noakes seeks nocturnal inspiration as she prepares for a career in journalism
My week starts the way it has done most Mondays for the past three years – sitting in a university library. There’s one big difference. At this time of year, there is a veil of calm. The underlying current of stress has dissipated. It’s a big change from the tensions of exam season a month ago.
Chairs stand unoccupied and academic books are tossed aside. I am finally on my last chapter. This one is entitled “The real world of television”.
It’s been three years since I joined the RTS bursary scheme. Since then, I’ve been navigating my way through the industry, learning to grow a thick skin and encountering unique opportunities.
Trying to find my way hasn’t always been easy. At times, it can feel like you’re a small fish in a shark tank. But being a member of the Royal Television Society gives me the safety net that anyone starting out on a career in TV desires so frantically.
My mantra is: “No matter who we are, we’re able to succeed with a helping hand.”
After being introduced to an opportunity by the RTS in 2018, I’m in Birmingham. I’m on my way to the BBC to be assessed for a journalism apprenticeship.
I can’t believe it but I’ve managed to beat more than 5,000 applicants. The day consists of a group exercise, interview and written assessment. Looking around the room, I am reminded that now is an exciting time to be starting a career in the media industry.
Like many people with an overactive imagination, I have developed what I refer to as “creative insomnia”. It sounds like the title of a new Netflix drama aimed at millennials like myself.
On my bedside table I place a notebook and a pen ready to write, cross out and generally work up any ideas that – if I’m lucky – might disturb my sleep. For the past year I’ve been producing a documentary looking at organ donation in the UK. The germ of the idea emerged from a 2:00am brainstorm.
I attend a meeting with True Vision’s creative director, Anna Hall. I have the RTS to thank for introducing me to Anna. Being matched with a mentor is possibly the best opportunity that comes with being a bursary student.
Anna passionately believes that documentaries should make a difference and push boundaries. I agree wholeheartedly. She tells me about the programmes that True Vision is working on. Its record on exposing human rights abuses is amazing. We agree to see each other again so we can discuss making my ideas a reality.
Like the rest of the nation, I’m hooked on Killing Eve. Villanelle, played to perfection by the awesome Jodie Comer, is shockingly wicked yet somehow disturbingly easy to relate to.
Not the best female role model but one of the all-time great TV villains.
Another favourite is Gogglebox. Such a simple idea and totally compelling. I shudder to think what comments would come from my sofa. Some of the expletives would have to be bleeped out.
Ping! My email goes off again. It’s the brilliant Anne Dawson from the RTS. She manages the bursary scheme and has the mammoth task of organising more than 100 students. Despite this, she seems to know every one of us as individuals.
This year alone, thanks to Anne, I’ve gained work experience and an apprenticeship.
This time, she asks if I’d like to write the TV Diary for Television. Without hesitation, I reply that I’d love to. The RTS has given me another fantastic opportunity!
Lydia Noakes is a graduate broadcast journalist and RTS bursary recipient.