Working Lives

Working Lives: Medical Advisor

Dr Thom Petty in character as Dr Neil Westland in Breathtaking

You were the lead medical advisor on Breathtaking. How did that come about?

I know Prasanna Puwanarajah, a former doctor, and had a little bit of input, along with a few other doctors, into the script he wrote with Dr Rachel Clarke and Jed Mercurio. The production felt they needed somebody on the ground as a medical advisor and I was available.

What did the job involve in pre-production?

Working lives: Director

Timothy Spall, a man in his mid sixties, sits in front of a large fully packed bookcase, in his blue polkadotted pyjamas and a green and navy striped silk dressing gown. He wears rectangular glasses.

What does the job involve?

I guess the simple answer is that the clue is in the title: it’s about having a clear direction in which you want to take a project.

You’re the hand on the tiller, making sure all the departments and actors are going in the same direction.

I started in documentaries, so I’m trying to make things feel real and truthful. I’m not just trying to deliver the script, which is what a lot of people think a director’s job is. You have to breathe life into it so it doesn’t feel written, or even directed.

Working Lives: Line Producer

The Chase (credit: ITV)

What does the job involve?

I oversee the production budget and scheduling, as well as the day-to-day aspects of a production. This involves ensuring that filming is done safely, on time and on budget. I’m also the go-between, between the crew and the producers.

How do you differ from a producer?

A producer works on the editorial side; a line producer is on the production side of a TV show.

How did you get your break in telly?

Working Lives: Head of talent

Brian Cox: Seven Days on Mars (Credit: Arrow / BBC)

What does the job involve?

I source the off-screen talent for ­productions across Arrow Media and Arrow Pictures, including runners, researchers, assistant producers, ­directors, series producers and executive producers. I also recruit people to permanent positions in the company; we have about 25 core staff. My role includes all aspects of HR.

Do you recruit on-screen talent?

No, talent agencies and broadcasters tend to look after the on-screen talent.

What was your route into becoming a talent manager?

Working Lives: Executive Producer Emma Norton

What does the job involve?

Executive producers, and there are usually more than one on a show, are across everything: creative development; scripting; casting and crewing; financing; the shoot; the edit; and marketing and publicity. Essentially, the role lasts for the lifespan of a project.


Do you focus on any particular areas?

Working Lives: Sound editor Emma Butt

Emma Butt works across drama and documentary, recently mixing the sound for the BBC One series Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads and Amazon Prime film Arsène Wenger: Invincible. Having spent the first decade of her working life in Dublin – where she worked on Lenny Abrahamson’s much-loved film What Richard Did – she now freelances in the UK. 


What does the job involve? 

Working Lives: Sound recordist

What does the job involve?

Recording the best possible sound for the script – acquisition of dialogue is king. I’m striving to capture actors’ performances, often in a challenging location, to cinematic standards. You could record their words later in a Soho studio using automated dialogue replacement (ADR) but, without sweat on their brow and out of costume, their performance wouldn’t be the same.

Did you always want to work in sound?