Joanna Lewis

Holly Allen


What’s your role at MultiStory?

I’m a Production Manager, based in Manchester. Having begun my career at ITV over fourteen years ago, I’m proud to say I’ve worked on some amazing shows, most of them here at MultiStory; such as Tonight, Leader’s Debates, Peston, Project Icon and the groundbreaking 7 Up Series.

For the past four years I’ve also been volunteering as a co-chair for the ITV Pride Network (my gay job as I call it!) and work really closely with ITV’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team.


What made you want to get into TV and how did you make that a reality?  

I remember visiting the Granada Studios Tour and telling myself that one day I wanted to work there. I’ve got a photo of myself on the cobbles aged 9, outside the Rovers!

From then on, I grew up with a passion to work in the creative industries and achieved a BA Hons in Design For Film and Television. My degree helped me gain my first TV role in 2009 (and my first step into the Granada Studios offices!); working as a prop assistant on 60 Minute Makeover for Shiver (who are now, us – MultiStory Media).

I then spent a couple of years running, and realised that my skills and interests fitted very nicely into Production Management. In 2011 I stepped up into my first Production Secretary role and I’ve never left ITV since!


What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are?  

If I’m going to be honest, I think that the hurdles I faced early on in my career mirrored those that I’d subconsciously been dealing with my whole life – a lack of self understanding. And with this came a lack of confidence. After going on quite a powerful, personal journey, coming out as LGBTQ+, I had the realisation that actually confidence came from being proud to be you. And a large part of feeling proud came from being able to feel visible, represented and supported.

Whilst moving through my career, I started taking more and more of an interest in the work that was being done around inclusion and creating safe spaces. I had a realisation that my longing to help tell diverse stories was why I wanted to work in the industry all along, and that I also wanted to help play a part in creating an inclusive working environment. It is, in part, why I started volunteering for ITV Pride – I wanted to be visible to help others be confident and proud to be themselves. But it’s also why I love my role at MultiStory – I’m very proud to work for a department that takes inclusion as seriously as it does.


What has been the highlight of your career so far?  

Working across two series of the original 7 Up films, and two series of the 7 Up Millennium Generation series, has been an absolute career highlight for me. Not only are the films a highlight in themselves, I was given the opportunity to travel and interview the cast in some incredible places, such as Bulgaria, France and New York (and on a side note – filming with the legendary Michael Apted at midnight on Time Square was an experience that will stay with me forever!)

As a fan of the films before I started working on them, I will forever be grateful that I’ve been able to work with and learn from such an inspirational and experienced group of filmmakers. It really is true that once you’ve joined the Ups family, you’re with them for life!


What was your biggest “pinch me’ moment?  

I was lucky enough to be on the Production Management team for Project Icon and I remember there being a moment whilst watching Jason Derulo and Becky Hill (two of the judges) recording a link. As Becky Hill recorded her jingle, it hit me. Was I really stood watching Becky Hill singing in such an intimate environment to Jason Derulo? The whole experience of working on the series was so surreal.

I was lucky enough to interview the winner of the series (Dylan and the Moon) on our ITV Pridecast and I was so full of pride that I worked for a department who was responsible for finding and giving amazing opportunities to such raw, diverse talent.


Are there any big learning curves or disaster moments you can look back and laugh about now? 

As a Production Manager the most important thing you learn is the importance of being flexible and empathetic. You find that you are constantly foreseeing potential curveballs, problem solving, fire fighting, learning and implementing new ways of working. And I love it all!

Working across the 7 Up series over the decades is one of the most unique examples of this. It’s incredible to see how much can change as time moves on and how adaptable you have to be.‘28 Up: Millennium Generation’, for example, was filmed in the heart of lockdown and was definitely an experience I don’t think any of the team will forget. I look back now and laugh at those bizarre moments where we were travelling up and down the country, adapting our shoots to match the ever changing lockdown rules in each city, as we went along.


What are your favourite TV shows?  

My taste in TV shows is very varied. Dramas with gritty or unique storylines; such as Fool Me Once, Bodies, Black Mirror, Alice in Borderland and Squid Games. That being said, I do love a reality show. I’m hooked on Traitors at the moment – no spoilers though please, as I’m behind on all the drama!

Overall, I love any show which celebrates as much diverse representation as possible, and keeps me hooked with surprise twists or cliffhangers.