What’s your role at MultiStory?
My job title is Development Producer. I lead the development team in Manchester. Day-to-day that means I help MultiStory win commissions by writing treatments, making taster tapes, finding and negotiating access, having brainstorms, originating ideas, and developing formats.
What made you want to get into TV and how did you make that a reality?
I left university in 2006 with a politics degree and no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I was the first person in my family to get a degree so I felt completely lost. I applied for work experience anywhere I thought would look good on my CV – The local paper, My MP’s office and the BBC. I was lucky that BBC Current Affairs in Manchester said yes first, otherwise I might have ended up in politics!
It took some dedication and the commute was horrendous. I was 20 and had returned home from uni to live with my dad in Preston. I left the house at 6 am and got home after 8 pm. Despite the long hours I always kept a smile on my face and tried to make myself indispensable. I brought ideas to the department’s weekly meetings, I learnt how to use the digibeta machines, and I would speak to anyone who made eye contact with me.
It worked; next thing I know I’m living in Salford and working as a runner on a Panorama about Jill Dando. I spent 18 months in the department as a runner then as a researcher – It’s also where I first met MultiStory North’s Creative Director Ceri Aston. I took every opportunity open to me – I learnt how to shoot, how to write briefs, how to manage tapes and one of my ideas even made it in front of a commissioner. For a brief time, I was in charge of feeding the fish in the department fish tank…this did not end well.
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are?
Freelance life is tough, especially when you’re new to the industry. When the work dries up you have to move heaven and earth to get back in the game. I would often move to where the work was. In my career I’ve been based in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff.
I remember moving to London in 2009 as a researcher thinking that I would be able to find work easily and maybe grow my career quickly. I went to a lot of meetings with SPs and PMs but instantly felt like i didn’t fit in every time – long hair, bonkers CV, funny accent. I had to take a temp job at Camden Council ringing up council tenants about their kitchens.
I kept in touch with all my contacts in the regions, and after a couple of months I was working back in Manchester as a casting researcher on Snog Marry Avoid – one of the most fun projects I’ve done.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Whilst I have worked in Development for 7 years some of my best memories are from being on production. I’m really fortunate to have worked an a huge variety of programmes – I was part of the OG Geordie shore casting team, I’ve worked on gritty murder documentaries, Dick and Dom Countryfile and Crimewatch Roadshow too!
But my highlight has was being a PD for BBC Arts during Hay Festival, I have never met so many famous and clever people all at once – best bit was spending the afternoon hanging out with Gary Fisher the french Bulldog and his owner Star Wars Actress Carrie Fisher – Childhood dream.
What was your biggest “pinch me’ moment
I have had 2 stints working at the Royal Collection creating content for their art exhibitions and online. Each time I got a lovely office at St James Palace, with soldiers wandering past every half an hour, I would have lunch at Buckingham Palace canteen and would be allowed to film in the palace and at Windsor when all the visitors had left.
Are there any big learning curves or disaster moments you can look back and laugh about now?
I started working in development because an exec took a chance on me. I moved from being a Shooting AP to an office-based ideas generator. It was a really fast learning curve. I made friends on my development team and I would ask questions about the process as much as I can – no one ever thought I was stupid because they all remembered what it was like to start out in development.
What are your favourite TV shows?
I really enjoyed Call My Agent, I’m a big fan of Derry Girls, and Gogglebox is always a treat, I’m the kind of person who watches Peston before going to bed and the latest season of Great Pottery Throwdown was an absolute joy to watch. But my guilty pleasure is sitting under a blanket with a pot of tea and a McDonalds’ and watching an entire week’s worth of Four in a Bed.