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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Producing a Festival Session: The Diary of an AP

By Ashwin Bhardwaj

“We’ve all heard horror stories about awful pitches, but a good approach can be the key to success.  Roll VT.”

This was it. The result of three months of hard work was about to be broadcast to a room full of big-hitters.  Three of Britain’s top talent agents, and two of the industry’s most successful producers of on-screen talent were on the panel; Kirsty Wark was chairing the session; heads of production from super-indies, and broadcast commissioners were in the audience. There was probably no gathering of people in the world at that moment that could better distinguish a good VT from a bad one: sound, lighting, editing, framing, performances and rapport – it was all going to be under the spotlight.  There was nothing more to do, expect hope that we’d done our best.

The panel, chaired by Kirsty Wark, get to the heart of the battle for talent
The annual Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival is a heady blend of panel sessions, presentations, masterclasses and networking events for the television industry.  It’s also a charity, giving young production talent the chance to get ahead in TV. Last year I was lucky enough to be on Ones To Watch, in which 30 'rising stars' of the TV industry were given delegate passes, and a bespoke programme of training and networking events.  Off the back of that, I was given the chance to AP a session at this year’s festival.

Miranda Chadwick (Broadcast Agent at ROAR Global) and Tom Beck (Commissioning Editor, Entertainment, at Channel 4) were producing a session called Speak To My Agent: How To Survive The Talent Wars - a 60 minute panel session, in which producers and agents would discuss the relationship between on-screen talent and producers. I’d been asked to look after the VTs of talent, to be used to add anecdotes, context and that starry-quality to the session.

After our first meeting, at Roar HQ, I felt so far out of my depth that I’d left the continental shelf far behind and was now floating aimlessly over the abyss of the deep ocean. I’d written a couple of travel documentaries, worked as a researcher and produced corporate videos – what was I doing on a session about agents and commissioning?!  I nodded, agreed to everything that was said, made some notes and kept my mouth shut, before spending the next three hours researching names, production companies and programmes, then another two hours watching VTs from previous festivals.

The next few weeks were fascinating.  When else do you get the chance to have a frank conversation with Nicky Campbell, Jake Humphrey and Al Murray about what they want in pitches and agents?  When again could I ask Russell Kane about his inspiration and why he does what he does? 
Kevin Spacey delivering
the MacTaggart Lecture

Having arrived in Edinburgh, the next 48 hours were a wonderful blur: chatting to John Lloyd about QI and Spitting Image; trying to smuggle a giraffe out of the Dave party; attending discussions about YouTube and the TV sector; complimenting Kevin Spacey on his speech; and, of course, our session! Having planned it for so long, I’d almost forgotten that I would learn something from the conversation, and I whipped out my notepad to learn from these industry giants.

It was only as we sat down for our celebratory meal that I reflected on what we’d done. Everyone was chuffed that after months of late nights and several thousand emails, we were looking out over Edinburgh Castle, toasting a job well done.

And it was only looking back that I realised how far I’d come. I’d learned about whole new areas of TV; I felt confident talking with CEOs, heads of production and channel commissioners in a way that was unimaginable months before; I’d met some of my favourite presenters and performers; I was able to attend the best event in television; and I’d been given the chance to showcase my work in front of the best in the industry.  

And although it sounds like a cliché, the most rewarding element was working closely with a team of four brilliant people. I was repeatedly astounded by their individual skills and competencies, and look forward to staying in touch with them as we forge our individual paths.

So, if you’re ever given the chance to work on a session at the Edinburgh TV Festival, just say yes.  You won’t regret it. 


For more information about Ones To Watch, visit

Ash travelled to Edinburgh by train with East Coast. Standard Advance returns between London and Edinburgh, booked online at, start from £34.

Follow Ashwin on Twitter @AshBhardwaj

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Want to write the next hit comedy? Read on...

This year’s Festival programme is absolutely packed to the brim with an eclectic mix of sessions, masterclasses, debates and talks. One session that particularly stands out as an Edinburgh first is the BAFTA Rocliffe Sitcom Showcase. Taking place on the Thursday afternoon, this session  will be the culmination of months of searching, judging, and most probably laughing quite a bit too. Two comedy scripts, selected from almost 500 entries by an expert jury of famous names in comedy, will be performed live on stage by professional actors in front of a Festival audience. Our panel, including comedian John Bishop and BBC Controller of Comedy Shane Allen, will offer a BBC script commission to one of the writers on the day.

With an overwhelming number of entries, what separates the humorous from the hideous? Here Chris Sussman, Executive Editor at BBC Comedy (and member of the Festival Advisory Committee) has some tips for aspiring comedy writers: 

1. Get on with it. You can spend ages thinking about an idea, driving yourself crazy, tying your brain in knots. But you won't know if your script is going to be any good or not until you actually sit down and start writing it.

The Sitcom Showcase will be a first for GEITF
2. Don't bother with a treatment. It's almost impossible to tell from a treatment how a script is going to turn out. If you want to prove to people that your idea is funny, write the script and show it to them!

3. Keep drafting and redrafting. You'll probably only get one chance to impress people with your script, so make sure it's in the best possible state it can be before you send it out there.

4.  Arrange a read-through. There's nothing like hearing your script read out aloud to see which jokes work and which don't. Why not ask your friends to come round one night and read your script out loud for you? You'll be amazed how useful it'll be.

5. Write a second episode. You might find it's even stronger than the first because you know the characters and the world better and that's the one you end up sending out. Or it might give you ideas that will inspire you to go back and change your first script. Either way, it won't be a wasted exercise.

6.  Trust your instincts. If you think a joke's not working, then it probably isn't. If you think your story is flawed or clichéd or boring, the chances are other people are going to think that too.

On stage at NYTVF last year
7.  Know the marketplace. If there are four sitcoms on TV already set in a school, don't write a sitcom set in a school!

8.  Get an agent. A lot of production companies won't read scripts unless they come through an agent. I know it's hard but if your script is good you'll find someone who likes it and wants to take you on.

9.  Don't give up. You're probably going to hear the word 'no' a few thousand times before you hear 'yes', so make sure you keep going.

10. Broadcasters aren't turning down loads of brilliant scripts every day. We want to read the next great script as much as you want to write it!

The BAFTA Rocliffe Sitcom Showcase will take place on Thursday 22nd August at 13.45. Haven't bought you Festival ticket yet? Buy before June 30th to save £105!

For more information on the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum click here.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

In conversation with Sir Peter Bazalgette...

We were lucky enough to be joined by TV tour de force and all round visionary Sir Peter Bazalgette for a very special Q&A at the Roundhouse in London last Tuesday.

Sir Baz in conversation with Sonali Shah

Well, what a night! This was the first of a series of exciting events that we are holding for our Ones to Watch alumni. We have to say we were pretty chuffed with the booking and Sir Baz certainly didn't disappoint.

Sonali Shah chaired the proceedings with aplomb, as  the man that brought us Changing Rooms (and by default Laurence Llewelyn Bowen!), Food and Drink and of course Big Brother shared anecdotes and insight into his TV career.

He masterclass of sorts began with a potted history of the emergence of the independent TV sector in Britain, which in his view has contributed to UK being a leading cultural force in TV. Did you know that Britain accounts for more than half of the entertainment exports globally? That's an incredible £1.7 billion!

Sonali wasn't shy in probing Sir Baz about his mistakes and as well as successes.He candidly admitted that selling his indie to Endemol just three years after setting it up may not of been the shrewdest financial decision. Endemol subsequently went on to own the formats for some his most famous creations including  Ready, Steady Cook, which ran for 21 series.

However, no love was lost as Sir Baz became chief creative officer of Endemol. As the man in charge when Big Brother graced our screens, he had plenty of stories to share on one of the most controversial shows in recent times. He even admitted that he had personal doubts about the success of show. However, after spotting an article in The Times about Big Brother making waves in Holland he began to re-address and the rest is history.

Sir Baz holding court...
We were treated to hilarious and intimate anecdotes about celebrity chefs, PR disasters and angry Daily Mail reporters in the form of Quentin Letts. One of the most fascinating anecdotes Sir Baz shared was how the format for the reality show as we know it today came about. During a brain storming session, in a nameless meeting room in Endemol, a young development researcher posed the question ''what if we applied the format of a balloon debate to a TV series and voted people off one by one"? And what do you have, an international format that has undeniably changed TV landscape forever. So what was the name of that development researcher, now a successful producer, director and presenter I hear you ask? Well, that would telling...

True to their name our Ones to Watch alumni posed some challenging questions; from the role of the technology in today's TV landscape, to the crisis at the BBC and the lessons that the television industry can learn from the arts. Sir Baz certainly wasn't shy in coming forward with his opinion. He was particularly passionate about the role of the BBC in cultivating new talent and it's social and cultural impact on the UK, as well as a vociferous champion of the independent sector's ethos of collaboration and risk taking.

A chance to catch up with alumni past and present 
However the burning question we all really wanted know is what does Sir Baz settle down to watch during a night in on the sofa. Any guesses? A good Scandinavian drama and BBC news at 10.

Sadly after what seemed like only five minutes we had to wrap up and make way for the wine. Sir Baz certainly  left us all with some food for thought and judging by the buzz during the networking drinks it was a roaring success.

A special thank you to our sponsors of the evening, BECTU. You can read their blog about the event here. 

Remember if you apply for One to Watch then you could be attending fantastic masterclasses like this at the TV festival and at our alumni events throughout the year.

Apply HERE, the deadline for application is 12 May 2013.

Friday, 5 April 2013

A beginners guide to...

DEVELOPMENT: devising, developing and selling TV shows to broadcasters.

Notebooks at the ready!
A cold and windy Wednesday night was brightened up by the smiling faces of our Network applicants who traveled (some far and wide!) to attend our Network taster event at the Roundhouse. And what cracker it was! After a technical glitch to two we opened the doors to a queue of people snaking round the block, all armed with notebooks and keen faces.

After a quick run down of what to expect up in Edinburgh we were lucky enough to be joined by committee member extraordinaire; Cat Lynch, Head of Development at Initial and Andy Brereton, Head of Development at Tiger Aspect. They delivered a fantastic crash course in development and judging by the multitude of questions at the end it definitely got those creative juices flowing.

So to help you along with your Network application all the best bits from the masterclass are right here!

Development is a pretty exciting place to be working in TV. You're the ideas man that comes up with the programmes on our screens. However it's not all white boards and brainstorming, the process from conception to delivery is often a long one and entails many different skills including:

Writing; a treatment is how you succinctly sell you programme idea on paper.

Pitching; takes practice and above all confidence. A pitch can range from a simple presentation to even re-creating the show in front of the commissioner.

Making promos; some companies prefer to present their progamme idea on film.

Casting talent; finding the right presenter or contributor is essential to any good show. Think of I'm a Celebrity or The Apprentice, it's the characters in them and the relationships between them that makes it crackle on screen and leaves you coming back for more. If you don't get the casting right, a great idea can fall flat on its face.

Researching; anything from contributors, to experts and stats!

Now down to the nitty gritty of what to consider when coming up with your idea...

A format is something that is unique and can be replicated...Think the blind bake challenge on Great British Bake Off, the diary room and eviction in Big Brother, the boxes & banker in Deal or No Deal, or the love lift in Take Me Out.

So where do those all important ideas come from?

  • News - a headline or a story can spark your imagination
  • Films/songs/books 
  • Real Life - listen to the stories and experiences of those around you
  • Mixing genres 
  • Old shows revamped

Here is handy checklist to run through before submitting any idea:

1. What else it out there?  Make sure your programme idea hasn't been on TV already!
2. What is the USP? If your programme is good enough you should be able sum it up in a sentence. For a little inspiration have a flick through the TV guide.
3.Who is it for? Always think about what Channel it would work best on and why? Who is your audience?
4. What is the format? Is there enough contact for a half an hour/hour show? Remember the format points, why is your programme interesting to watch, what makes it unique?
5. What is it called? Although not essential, a snappy name can give you confidence in your programme and grab people's attention.

Not only are these useful points to consider for Question 2 of your Network application, but TV is all about ideas! We can guarantee that you'll be asked to come up with a programme idea on many more applications in the future.

Remember applications for The Network close on 21 May 2013. Get cracking!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

I thought I knew what I was doing...

I thought I knew what I was doing but I found it all makes a lot more sense when you interrogate why you’re doing it... 

Not only do our Ones to Watchers get a free place at the TV Festival, but the benefits don't end there. We offer our alumni heavily discounted training and career development opportunities - such as this intensive two day course provided by DV Talent. 

Jennifer Shaw, Development AP at Boundless and Ones to Watch Alumnus 2011 shares her experience...

To be honest, I guess the main incentive for applying for the course was the special rate offered to the Ones to Watch alumni, but by the end of thisintensive two-day course I felt I'd consolidated my skills, improved my structuring and progressed my editorial abilities to the next level… I thought I knew what I was doing when it came to shooting and editing but I found it all makes a lot more sense when you really interrogate why you’re doing it. 
The all important camera check list
Day 1 began with a slightly unexpected activity. Instead of the usual straightforward introductions, documentary maker and course leader Kevin Hull sat us in the “Story Circle”. In very serious tones, he explained the first and second rules of the Story Circle (rather like Fight Club except less violent!). Our task- to tell one story to the circle about ourselves that was “true”- was harder than it first appeared but set us up for a day of challenging but valuable learning curves. Through the ‘Story Circle’, it was refreshing to learn that the group was made up of a real mix of backgrounds from an NHS Photographer and an Arts Charity director to a handful of GEITF Ones to Watch alumni. 
Searching for a story on the streets of Kentish Town

Next, we took the Canon XF305s out and about to source a true story on the streets of Kentish Town- an opportunity to hone shooting and directing skills. Back in the course HQ, the different ‘stories’ we brought back (from the chanced-upon street scene to the engineered coin-on-the-pavement trick) lead to a really  eye-opening debate about how to tread the thin line between production and reality… 
Day 2 involved several more rigorous story-telling tasks including shooting a story and editing ‘on camera’. It was a tough but great lesson in being really disciplined with what you shoot (although a bit of a shock when we realised we’d actually have to leave the safety net of behind the camera to stand in front of it for once!). What was particularly useful for me was the chance to review each others’ work and receive detailed and valuable feedback after every major task.  
Since attending the course, I now find myself repeating nuggets of wisdom I picked up over the two days- from how humans are thought to be genetically programmed to process stories to the fact that every story in the world is actually based on a handful of age-old narrative arcs. All-in-all an intensive and really worthwhile couple of days.

DV Talent is the UK's leading independent training provider and career agency for creative media professionals.  Visit their website for more training opportunities.

Applications for Ones to Watch 2013 are now open.  If you have been working in the TV  industry for 3-5 years, apply here.  If you know someone who you think deserves a Ones to Watch place, recommend them here

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

London Screening #3: Run

Olivia Colman plays Carol in Acme Films' new drama, Run

Our series of London screenings have so far caused collective intakes of breath and laughs aplenty, but this Monday’s Roundhouse audience were the quietest yet - utterly captivated by Acme Films’ new drama for Channel 4, Run. Set in south London, Run first follows Carol (played by Olivia Colman), a mother to two troublesome teenage boys. A random act of violence sets a chain of events in motion which underpins the whole series in a domino movement of cause and effect. This is a drama about the people you pass in the street, you recognise from the world around you, and how we’re all connected. Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan, one of Run’s two writers, explained that it offers ‘a glimpse into four of the different worlds that make up London’.

Fajemisin-Duncan and his writing partner, Marlon Smith, met at sixth form college in south London where they also befriended Jonathan Pearson, director of episodes 3 and 4. Having been making short films for a number of years, they’d originally set out to make Run as an internet drama, and approached Jaimie D’Cruz, owner of Acme Films, with the idea. That was five years ago. ‘What took so long?’ asked our chair for the evening, Neil Midgley. D’Cruz told the audience he put the project on hold and told the two writers to take their time. Not content with this, they went off and made their own pilot. Channel 4 read the script and it evolved from there into the bigger project that it is today. D’Cruz admitted that Channel 4 took a big risk, by investing in unknown writers, but he described the script as so exceptional it wasn’t surprising that the channel wanted to turn it into a primetime drama. Colman agreed about the script adding, ‘Women don’t write well for women at the moment. And a lot of people still don’t think it’s appealing to have a female lead’. So it was refreshing for her to play the part of Carol, written by two young men.

For the team behind Run, many of whom have been 
Marlon Smith and Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan
friends for years, there was a visible sense of pride in their achievement. They were ‘over the moon’ to finally see their project on screen. A member of the audience asked how they kept their motivation going for five years, and they admitted it was hard with times when they nearly gave up. But, as Fajemisin-Duncan explained, they had something to say and that became easier as people start believing in them.

So that concludes our London screenings series. And what a series it’s been! We’d like to thank all involved for making it such a great success. And eyes peeled for the next events!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

London Screening #2: The Job Lot

'Thank you for laughing’, writer Ian Jarvis politely added at the end of the evening. This hardly seemed necessary as the screening of episodes 1 and 2 of his and Claire Downes’ new comedy The Job Lot received a loud and lively reception from the Roundhouse audience on Monday. But for the writers of this comedy, their television debut, seeing strangers laugh at their jokes was clearly something to behold. ‘It’s nice to hear a live audience’s reaction’, Jarvis continued, explaining that they rely on their instincts as to whether something will get a laugh.

The panel take to the stage following the screening
The Job Lot is the work of Jarvis, Downes and Stuart Lane, who was unable to join us due in China (some people will do anything to get out of public speaking!). The set-up is simple – the action takes place in a job centre housed in a suitably grey block of a building somewhere in the Midlands. The centre’s staff are made up of characters we all recognise from our own office experiences – the jobsworth who is a stickler for procedure, the over-enthusiastic (but verging on the edge) boss, the couldn’t-care-less young office worker. And who knows what characters might walk through those doors, which is exactly what Downes admits drew her to the setting.

Sarah Hadland 
Following the screening our chair for the evening, Andrew Collins, was joined on stage by writers Downes and Jarvis, producer Hannah Pescod and the show’s two stars, Sarah Hadland and Russell Tovey. Downes and Jarvis talked about their inspiration (‘The line about swimming the Channel at the local baths is from my sister’, joked Downes) and the process of getting the series commissioned. After an initial knockback from their first script (which they weren’t bitter about, quipped Jarvis), a second go grabbed the attention of a lot of the major players and so began the talks (plus the wining and dining). With Big Talk Productions track record in comedies (Spaced, Rev), they seemed the obvious choice but sitting on a script of such quality meant production companies were vying for their attention. Downes joked that it was Big Talk’s biscuits that ultimately won them over.

Andrew concluded the evening by asking the panel about the worst jobs they’d ever had.  Tovey described life as a hairdressers’ junior washing old ladies’ wigs; Hadland spent two weeks as a magician’s assistant on a cruise ship (doesn’t sound so bad to us!); and Claire Downes earned £30 for two minutes spent provocatively draped over a tractor…. If that’s in her arsenal of inspiration then we can’t even begin to imagine what future episodes of The Job Lot might contain!

We still have limited tickets available for our next screening taking place at the Roundhouse, London NW1: 

Run  Monday 25 March
Premiere of Acme Film’s drama for Channel 4 and live Q&A with Olivia Colman

Information on how to purchase tickets can be found here.

Friday, 15 March 2013

I'm about to go live to the nation... thanks to The Network!

So what's it like working on the most iconic children's show of all time?  Hannah Salt can tell you.  She's a runner on Blue Peter, and her journey started at The Network!  After Edinburgh, Hannah successfully nabbed one of our Network at Work placements, and she was so impressive that CBBC subsequently offered her a job on the famous ship.  Hannah's taken a break from entertaining the nation's children to take us behind the scenes on BP and share what she's learned since The Network.

Stood in a cool dark studio behind the cameras, about to go live to the nation, I always feel a little electric crackle of excitement in the air as the gallery wish everyone a good show and countdown to live transmission. There is an undeniable thrill in watching a show you’ve been working towards hit a million screens, reaching and igniting the imagination of countless children.

Hannah preparing to go live

Thanks to The Network at Work placement in CBBC I have been working as a Runner on Blue Peter for nearly a year now, and have cut my telly teeth on this varied and entertaining factual programme. I research and respond to creative briefs, thoroughly fact-check potential features and liaise with colleagues, guests and contributors. With a high turnaround of ideas, simultaneous tasks set against tight deadlines and the pressure of a live studio, I have thrived in this environment. Working across our live studio, development, film and correspondence teams has given me the shot at a career in TV that just wasn’t there before I applied and attended the festival.

A classic BP "make" - this was how to turn spare gloves into animals - Hannah made the chicken on the left!

A Festival highlight for me was working with the Hollyoaks production team to storyline, script and film an episode of the soap, really putting our creative stamina to the test. Following this I got to join the regular writing team at Lime Pictures for their story conference, and was given the chance to write a shadow episode of the soap. Similarly on Blue Peter over the past year I have pitched and contributed ideas at the commissioning level, and nothing beats seeing your ideas turn into reality on TV.

Hannah at The Network in 2011

In this sense The Network was a game changer for me, because it has provided a great spring board – the rest is down to you.  The battle isn’t over when you arrive somewhere like the BBC, with short contracts and extremely high competition over roles you need to be really self-aware, thirsty for development, flexible, adaptable, tirelessly creative and passionate about making great TV… but if you’re looking at this the chances are you already know that.

Hanging with Barney the BP dog!

Go for it and give my love to Edinburgh!

Aww, doesn't Barney look ultra cuddly!  A huge thanks to Hannah to sharing her story.  If you want to work in TV but don't know where or how to start then you need to come on The Network.  It's all free so what are you waiting for - apply now!

Friday, 8 March 2013

London Screening #1: The Incredible Mr Goodwin

The first of our London Screening events took place this week, and what a way to kick start the series with The Incredible Mr Goodwin.

The face says it all as the bed of nails arrives on stage

The 45 minute show is real edge-of-your-seat stuff, and we’re not sure we’ll be able to look at a needle and thread in the same way for a while!

Andrew Collins was our jovial chair for the post-screening Q&A with Jonathan Goodwin and Matt Crook, the Executive Producer of the show. Initially addressing the question, are we all as brave as The Incredible Mr Goodwin, the clear and definitive answer is no! We were then all ears as the pair shared tales of how they conceived some of the amazing stunts and how some of the Health & Safety forms, as you can imagine, were a slight headache to complete… 

Lying on a single nail!

Nobody could help but be impressed by the sheer amount of craft and time Jonathan extends to his stunts - the hours and hours and hours of practise and planning he does was inspiring. For a minute we thought if we practised hard enough we could pull off similarly crazy stunts until we watched him lie on a single (sharp!) nail for ten seconds without flinching and we had a rethink! Mr Goodwin truly is Incredible.

We’d like to thank everyone at UKTV and ObjectiveProductions who helped make the evening possible.

We still have limited tickets available for the next two screenings both taking place at the Roundhouse, London NW1: 

The Job Lot   Monday 18 March 
Premiere of Big Talk Production’s new comedy for ITV and live Q&A with Russell Tovey and Sarah Hadland

Run  Monday 25 March
Premiere of Acme Film’s drama for Channel 4 and live Q&A with Olivia Colman

Information on how to purchase tickets can be found here.

Top TV tips for #Getting into TV....

Happy Friday and thanks to everyone who joined us for our twitter chat yesterday lunchtime!

Or those of you who missed it, yesterday The Network hosted a twitter chat all about getting into TV with experts from ITV, BBC and Channel 4.

We were absolutely inundated with lots of top questions!  Here are some of the great insights our expert panellists shared:

A lot of recruitment forms ask for an original idea for a TV show. How can you make your idea stand out from the rest?

A:  Really think carefully about the channel/slot/audience, many people are sloppy on this key part of the pitch. 
         A: And remember we're all looking to engage a global market so you want                                 an idea that can travel.

Do production companies care more about degrees or Work Experience?

A:  I would say work experience unless a specialist show and need specialist skills or knowledge. 
A:  Get as much job experience as you can - broad work placements in a range of environments. 
A:  Experience and passion and ideas are more important than grades! It’s about really wanting to work in telly! 

What do companies look for when assessing applications for work experience? 
A:  Make your application targeted, show you've researched them and know about their company/show. 

How can I really stand out from others when applying for graduate jobs / internships etc.? 

A:  Stop thinking about others, and think about what you have done! Have ideas, be creative.   
A:  Be clear about your ability/skillset, show what additional attributes you can bring.  
A:  Just be yourself & if you are passionate about the role and have the right skills you will stand out.  
A:  Be passionate, do your research and be clear about why you want to work at that company. 
How important are showreels in terms of becoming a presenter? And is local radio good experience? 

A:  Pretty essential, people need to see you are comfortable and look good on camera! Local radio experience is grea.t  
A:  You need to display your presenting ability and skill to engage/sell co-presenting/links/debates it depends.

What are the chances of a good script for a show being picked up if it’s sent into the script room for BBC/itv etc? 

A:  I'd suggest that you get an agent, ITV don't have a Writers Room to see unsolicited scripts.

Is working as a runner a good place to start if you have no broadcasting experience? 
‏A: It’s the BEST starting point, if you have no experience or unsure of the role you want - gives you great insights.

This twitter chat was just a taster of the expert advice and insight you will get in Edinburgh if you win a place on The Network – and of course, you’ll get to ask your questions face to face and in more than 140 characters!

Good luck with your application!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

It all started at The Network...

So here I am, in mid production of possibly one of the best shows of 2013, being trained by a comic genius in the art of sitcom writing and gaining hands on experience of TV show development and production. And it all started at The Network.

When the Network opportunity appeared on my laptop screen, all I could think was fantastic opportunity, although another application to fill out, and probably more rejection. 

But, you've got to be in it to win it. I gave the application my best shot, and...I was put on the waiting list. But - amazingly - someone dropped out and in August I was on the train on my way to Edinburgh.

The Network programme was incredible, workshops, talks and CV clinics. As a budding screenwriter my favourite moments were attending an interview with Charlie Brooker, participating in a drama workshop with BBC Writers Room and working with the cast and crew of Waterloo Road.

All of these opportunities left me inspired to get stuck into the industry.  But how?  Networking, of course!

Like most of us, I enjoy meeting new people and good conversation, and in essence that's what networking is, the only difference is that these conversations might be with people in the industry that could potentially give you (or at least direct you towards someone who can give you) a job.

So that's what I did - I met all sorts of people on my networking journey - a lot of lawyers, but also producers and execs. I was happily batted from one person to another person better able to help me, on several occasions, until I landed in front of a development exec at Kudos. 

He said he'd enquire about getting me in for work experience, and he actually did!

Within a month I was being a runner at Kudos for a week. Before I said goodbye I built those all important relationships. 
Consequently I was invited to do some more work experience with Kudos' sister company Brown Eyed Boy. 

Now this is the part where the magic happens! On my first day, literally minutes after I'd arrived, the position of writer's assistant on Brown Eyed Boy's new sitcom for ITV: Vicious, was being discussed in the office. It was then or never. I bit the bullet and asked the M.D. Gary Reich if he would consider interviewing me, and to my delight he said 'yes'. The interview went wonderfully - Gary really took an interest in me after witnessing my work ethic throughout the work experience period, he was impressed by my CV and we both agreed that this was the perfect position for me right now as an aspiring TV writer! He had also, coincidentally, been on the equivalent GEITF talent scheme when he was just starting out too.

Cherish on set of the recording of Vicious

So, I got the job: working as writer's assistant to Gary Janetti, writer and producer of Family Guy and executive producer of Will and Grace. What a first gig in TV! It was also a plus that the actors starring in the show are none other than legends Ian Mckellen, Derek Jacobi and Frances de la Tour! 

So here I am, in mid production of possibly one of the best shows of 2013, being trained by a comic genius in the art of sitcom writing and gaining hands on experience of TV show development and production. And it all started at The Network!  

My advice to anyone, eager to get into the industry is dare! 

Dare to apply, dare to keep trying, dare to say hello, dare to ask for opportunities. The worst anyone can say is 'no'. God bless you on your journey.
 Cherish : )

Cherish invited The Network team along to watch the  recording...VIPs!

You can read more of alumni's success stories on our website here 

Applications for The Network are open until 21 April 2013, please go to our website for more info and to apply

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Network Reunion. Bigger than any 90s pop band.

As anyone who’s been watching ITV2 on a Thursday Night will testify, reunions are pretty hot right now (the Big Reunion is my not-so-guilty pleasure:  5ive + B*Witched+ Atomic Kitten = 90s pop nostalgia heaven!) So to cheer up the seemly never ending winter, we thought we’d orchestrate a reunion of our own…

Atomic Kitten. Not Network alumni. Didn't get on our guestlist.

So last Tuesday night saw us brave the cold at the Camden Roundhouse, a legendary London venue that usually hosts the hottest music and performance acts  (properly hot acts, mind, not a faded 90’s pop star in sight) but, for one night only, we had the venue set up to welcome the brightest TV talent in the UK: our Network alumni.
Not Atomic Kitten.  On the list!

And what a reunion it turned out to be.  Networkers from the last 3 years came from across the UK (including 3 from Scotland – hello Kirsten, Andrew and Alison!) for an evening of masterclasses, career focus and just generally catching up with old mates and talking telly!
Network alumni. Two of these ladies came down from Scotland for the evening - that's impressive dedication.
We wanted the evening to capture the spirit of The Network in bite sized chunks so we put together a mix of what we do in Edinburgh.  Some fantastic speakers took up our invitation to deliver masterclasses.  The evening kicked off with chat from Sara Geater and Suzy Lamb.  Sara’s CEO of super indie FremantleUK, (you know, the group behind such blockbuster programmes such as The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Celebrity Juice, QI and The Apprentice).  Suzy is Head of Production at Thames, Executive Producer of ITV’s Saturday night smash Take Me Out, and has a career spanning some of the biggest entertainment shows of the past two decades.  Plus she worked with Mister Blobby!  Sara and Suzy gave insight into their jobs, their career paths and spoke honestly about the qualities you need to succeed in TV.  I know everyone in the audience was deeply impressed by their down to earth attitudes and obvious love for what they do.  Inspiring.
Sue, Sara and Suzy from FMUK mingle with Networker Yvette Spedding.

From the world of big budget shiny floor formats to compelling documentary making. C4 factual commissioner extraordinaire David Glover gave an all too brief (i.e. the hour simply whizzed past!) lesson into documentary filmmaking.  David’s an engaging and passionate speaker, and had the audience rapt, as well as illustrating his talk with some fab clips including President Obama and The Plane Crash (one of his commissioned).  Plus he let slip some of his glorious indiscretions (which I won’t repeat - Chatham House rules apply for alumni events, I’m afraid) brilliant stuff.  Thank you to the lovely James Cooper from Square Eyes for hosting the chat.
David Glover (L) and James Cooper

As it was so near to Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t let our alumni go home without a date so our very own Cupid Rhiannon fixed up some speed dating with some of the industry’s best talent managers.  In a fabulous space overlooking the bright lights of Camden Town, a top team had one to ones with Networkers and some fledging relationships were forged – we heard of at least one job interview offer that came as a result of the speed dating!  A HUGE thank you to NBC Universal's Nicky Searle, BBC's Daniell Morrisey & Cecila Lawrence-John, ITVs Vikki Barron & Mairie Mactague, Channel 4's Jasmine Hayer, Cineflix's Jessica Wilson, Fever Media's Ruth Stevenson, and Amy Walker from Media Parents for giving up your evenings and being part of a frenetic but extremely fruitful event. 
BBC's Daniell Morrisey works his CV magic

And of course it wouldn’t be a Network reunion without lots of catching up with old mates – some beautiful friendships were rekindled- ahh!  Big thanks to our fabulous alumni for coming down and making it all happen.  Who needs 90s pop stars- you lot really rock.  

Caroline x

Monday, 4 February 2013

Want to work in TV? Top Tips for your Network application!

We want your application to be the best it can be. So here are quite a few tips to make it stand out. 

  1. We welcome applications from people with an interest in ANY area of TV. 
    The TV industry is very broad and there are literally hundreds of roles you can consider!  We have profiled some of the most popular on our website here -  Want to work in TV? Which Job is for me? and the Creative Skillset website is also useful guide:
  2. You don't need to have had any experience of working in television BUT you will have to demonstrate that you LOVE TV. 
    It’s not enough just to say you like watching TV. Can you prove you have lots of ideas? What have you done that demonstrates your interest? Do you have a YouTube channel?  Do you blog about TV? Has TV changed your life in any way? Remember, we don't want to hear about student projects that you doing as  part of your course, you need to tell us what exciting, creative things you've been doing in your own time.
  3. The TV industry thrives on ideas, so show us that you are capable of coming up with things that haven’t been done before or looking at things from a fresh perspective.

  4. We want to get an idea of who you are so use your own voice and be honest! Please tell us what you think, rather than what you think we want to hear.
  5. Make sure you check your application carefully for spelling and grammar mistakes. If you know spelling and/ or grammar isn't your strong point, do ask someone to check it over for you.  It’s scarily easy to miss your own mistakes!
  6. Make note of the word count and don’t go over it.  You don’t necessarily have to use the maximum number of words, but please do make sure your answers are as complete as possible.
  7. Please make sure you have supplied accurate contact details, including email address and mobile number.
  8. Please use a personal email account (e.g. Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) rather than one supplied by your work/ college as we’d like to keep in touch with you and offer you future opportunities.

When describing your idea for a new programme, consider the following step by step guide

STEP 1:  The Idea

  • What is your idea?
  • Think about what audience it would appeal to. What age are they? When/what time are they likely to watch TV?  
  • Think about what channel your programme is most suited to and why. Is the programme in keeping with the channel brand?
  • What is different about your idea, what makes it unique?
  • Are there any similar shows?        

STEP 2:  How would the show work

  • Think about how the format would work. Is it a series or a one off?
  • What is the content of the show? How many episodes? How long would each programme be? Would it work as a long running format?
  • Would there be talent/presenter in it? What is it about the talent you've chosen that appeals to the audience and the channel?
  • Thinking about your audience, where in the schedule would it sit, what time and what day?

 STEP 3: The Pitch

  • Can you sell the idea in a sentence? 
  • Titles matter. What title will hook this particular audience?
  • What are the strong points about your idea that you should emphasise?
  • Why should your programme be commissioned?
  • How can your idea engage people beyond what they see on TV?  For example, is there scope for interaction through websites, phone lines and social media?:

Applications are considered and places awarded by The Network committee,so this is your chance to get your ideas read by some of the biggest names in the TV industry! Visit to apply today!