At a second Futures event in September, a varied panel discussed the rise of the ‘slashie’ – people forging a TV career via multiple avenues.
Helen Simmons started out as a producer, before embracing writing: ‘I’m glad I took my time coming to writing because it allowed me to read a lot and to learn.’ Now, Simmons has her own production company, Erebus Pictures, and splits her time equally between writing and producing. For Kim Tserkezie, who played Penny Pocket in children’s series
Balamory, ‘acting was my absolute passion... but, as a disabled actor, I found the roles coming my way were really pitiful, awful, stereotypical portrayals of disabled people.
‘The way forward for me was to try and create those roles myself – that’s how I moved into writing and producing.’
Sonny Hanley has worked for ITV across two decades in a wide range of roles; currently, his day job is controller of content services, but he also co-chairs ITV Embrace, the broadcaster’s BAME network.
When he first joined ITV, Hanley was a production co-ordinator by day and an edit assistant by night. ‘I was doing two jobs, but it didn’t feel like work – it felt exciting,’ he said.
‘Being a “slashie”... helped me in my career; the next move up was easier because I knew a bit more than the next person.’
Dr Ranj Singh is a doctor and TV medical expert, appearing on ITV’s This Morning. As a junior doctor, Singh felt he ‘needed something to shake things up a little bit’. He answered a BBC ad for an adviser on young people’s health. ‘My name got passed around and more things started to crop up,’ he recalled.
TV scratched his ‘creative itch’ and now, a decade or so later, Singh is a regular face on TV as well as an NHS clinician. ‘My motto has been, “Have a go and see what happens”.’
Channel 4 News journalist Ed Gove chaired the event.