Pat Younge's TV Diary

Pat Younge's TV Diary

By Pat Younge,
Monday, 15th February 2016
Pat Younge, Sugar Films, RTS Cambridge, television, production,
Pat Younge at RTS Cambridge Convention 2015
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Sugar Films' Pat Younge has been 'doing the rounds' of trying to sum up investment for his production company.

Start the week reviewing Sugar Films’ cash flow and trying to get my head around a new accounting software system. Any of my former CFOs will know that I wasn’t put on planet Earth to do this, but I plough on gamely.

One of the things I discover is that the BBC pitch system doesn’t tell you when a commissioner has been made redundant. So an idea that I thought must be getting lots of consideration has actually been languishing, lonely and unread, in a dead Dropbox on the BBC server. Note to self – don’t take it personally.

Lunch with Kim Shillinglaw. It had been hastily cancelled and rearranged the previous Friday, when she was Controller of BBC Two, and then yesterday (Monday) when it was announced that Kim was leaving the BBC. Turns out our cancelled appointment was on the day she found out that she didn’t have the top job and took redundancy.

I have to say, she didn’t appear at all crestfallen. Quite the opposite, in fact, almost like a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

Irritatingly, she remained very tight-lipped about the detailed sequence of events. Biggest surprise was how they managed to keep it all secret inside the BBC until the announcement. Which is how it should be, and maybe a sign that some things at the BBC have changed for the better.

However, shame on the BBC Trust for trying to play it as senior headcount reduction and cost saving, as it likely delivers neither.

Kim’s news came on the back of a series of other departures and changes: Fincham, Lygo, Hincks, Bellamy, Hadlow, Bedell and with Cohen and Yentob not so recently leaving the stage as well. It is a lot of good people and collective creative brainpower leaving the system.

When the non-competes and gardening leave are over, it will be interesting to see where they emerge, especially the balance of those going into production, broadcast and digital roles.

Been playing catch-up with the American series Empire, the story of a record label led by a dysfunctional (to put it mildly) black family. Its storylines and story mechanics are definitely more Dynasty than War and Peace, but it’s an enjoyable romp.

One thing that struck me was how weird it was to see black people kissing black people on TV, which I know does happen in the real world, even if I rarely see it on UK television.

Wonder if the Creative Diversity Network’s new Project Diamond monitoring scheme will capture authenticity as well as numbers?

End the week with a digital insight. Our start-up, Sugar Films, has been doing the rounds, seeking investment. Someone told me that you have to kiss lots of frogs to find a prince, and I do feel that every frog and toad with an investment account has now been given plenty of love by the Sugar team.

For me, one of the really interesting things is that, with just one or two notable exceptions, very little time gets spent discussing our digital plans and perspective.

I guess TV can be modelled, and digital doesn’t fit that model, but it does feel quite 20th century. Anyway, just had coffee with a digital pioneer who said we’d got it all wrong. “TV is a sunset industry,” he opined, “so you should have put your digital offering out front and you could have secured three times as much investment because no investor can afford to miss the next big thing in digital.”

Not sure if he’s a genius or totally bonkers, but it did provide food for thought for the weekend. Next week could be another interesting week.

Pat Younge is Managing Director of Sugar Films.