The factual and entertainment genres came under the microscope at the latest RTS Futures event, “Speed date the content creators”.
Execs from top shows that included The Apprentice, Educating Cardiff and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway were grilled in a series of three-minute dates by a young audience eager to get in and on in telly.
“There are opportunities in documentaries – it feels like an exciting time. There are many more documentary series now compared to when I started,” said producer/director Nicola Brown, whose credits include Channel 4 shows The Secret Life of Four Year Olds and Educating Cardiff. Rig shows in particular, she added, were looking to hire.
Emily Lawson, who produced C4’s The Supervet, told the RTS at the event that there is “an appetite for returning series that grab the public’s attention, so we’re looking for people all the time”.
“We take people on, certainly in the more junior roles. A good place to start is as a runner,” said Claire Walls, the series producer of BBC One’s The Apprentice.
Landing a job on a long-running series could be the start of something big. “From year to year, they can move up [the ladder]. Runners last year become researchers on the next series. We have people back and consider them for higher roles,” explained Walls’ colleague Stephen Day, who is series editor on the Alan Sugar-fronted factual entertainment show, which has been a TV fixture for the past decade.
Newcomers should look beyond traditional television, argued Mike Matthews who directed C4’s Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals. “There are so many [online] channels out there. They’re not conventional telly but they need talented people to make [content] for them,” he said.
“The skill set that you need to make great television has become broader. As a TV producer, I now have to be aware of digital – we need to be available on so many more platforms than we did 13 years ago when I started,” said Gemma Nightingale, series producer of ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway, the shiny floor show which first aired in 2002.
“TV’s an incredibly competitive industry and everyone wants to work on the big shows. The energy of the show comes from the energy of the team, so you’re not going to get anyone to watch [the show] if the team isn’t behind it,” said Nightingale’s fellow Saturday Night Takeaway series producer Diego Rincon.
“If you have the energy, passion, enthusiasm and the bravery to be creative, that’s what’s going to make you stand out,” Nightingale added.
The ideal team for Barnaby Coughlin, director, BBC Two’s Phone Shop Idol, would be composed of “funny, creative, clever individuals”, who “can’t do enough for you and are constantly thinking ahead”. Above all, he added, having “absolute trust” in people is key.
The RTS Futures event, “Speed date the content creators”, was held on 5 October at the Amber Bar in central London. It was produced by Emily Gale and Carrie Britton. For more RTS Futures events visit www.rtsfutures.org.uk.