On Tuesday 9th August, we gathered with our interns and alumni at ITV Studios for the latest event in our fabulous Masterclass series, this time based on the television industry.
We were joined by an inspiring panel of industry experts: Angela Jain, Andi Peters, Satmohan Panesar and Andrew Mackenzie. Interestingly, these four senior level speakers, although in different positions, had all crossed paths within their television careers, even being each others’ bosses at some point!
The night was kicked off with a warm welcome from Angela Jain, the Managing Director of ITV Studios Entertainment. Before Angela started her career, she was aware that ‘there wasn’t anyone who looked like her on screen’. Upon starting her first role she noticed that she was ‘the only brown girl’ working behind the scenes in television. It was then she realised the impact this lack of diversity could have on programming.
Since then, Angela has worked in television for 20 years and is responsible for running multiple ITV digital channels and acquiring programmes across the network. Before moving into commissioning, Angela spent 10 years in television production, producing and directing shows across a range of genres, from T4 to Moving People to The O Zone. An active supporter of Creative Access, Angela expressed that ‘we need different voices behind the scenes as TV is talking to a wide range of audiences’.
Popular Andi Peters is a well known and loved television presenter and producer. His first job was working at Topshop Oxford Circus where he was scouted by producer Kate Marlow, after she noticed his DJ’ing skills whilst he was assisting the Topshop DJ. After a number of auditions, he was offered a job as a presenter on his 18th birthday, where his television career began.
Starting out in 1988, Andi found that he was the only black man presenting on TV, five days in a row and thus had the pressure of appealing to everyone of a similar culture single-handedly. Since then television has slowly evolved and Andi has worked on countless shows, more famously known for his presenting roles on shows such as ‘The Broom Cupboard’ and ‘Blue Peter’. Andi spoke of how his successful presenting roles opened doors for him to become a producer, where he passionately claimed ‘television can create magic!’. With no two days the same, Andi encouraged our interns to “hustle but don’t hassle” in the television industry, stating that it’s a hard industry to work in, but with drive, motivation and networking you can succeed.
Andrew Mackenzie, is the Chief Creative Executive of one of Creative Access’ media partners, the TwoFour group and has been involved in the successful productions of television shows such as ‘Educating Yorkshire/Essex’ and ‘The Jump’. A developer of creative ideas, Andrew expressed that ‘there is no formula to finding an idea’. Finding ideas usually come from having casual conversations (even with his wife!) and the worst thing to do is to brainstorm alone.
Andrew expressed that by working in TV, you are given the opportunity to suddenly become an expert in what you want, as you are ‘given the license to be nosey’ and explore until you have found your passion. At the start of his career he found himself making lots of cups of tea, but ensured that the tea he made was the best tea in the office. He advised our interns to ‘make yourself indispensable’ and do your best no matter how big or small a task is. A passionate team player, Andrew expressed the importance of supporting and staying in contact with peers met along the way, as in the future you could end up in business with these very same peers. Addressing diversity, Andrew is aware that off screen it’s hard to fill senior positions in a diverse way, whereas junior positions tend to be a lot easier to fill.
Satmohan Panesar is the Commissioning Executive at ITV Studios and a previous participant in diversity scheme, pushing for more diversity in positions of seniority in television. Like many people from a strict Asian background, there were high expectations of what his career should be. He quoted, ‘as a good Indian boy I wanted to be a doctor’ but after work experience in a television production company he knew that the industry was for meant for him.
After realising the intensity of working in such a creative industry he claimed that although there may be jobs that he may not have enjoyed, they opened up doors for other opportunities to work on exciting projects with great people. He advised, ‘be relentless and keep going. Even though some roles may be tough, (especially when you start from the bottom), you have no idea what exciting places it would take you’. Addressing diversity, Satmohan is aware that ‘diversity is a massive issue in television that needs to be addressed, but slowly change is happening’.
We’d like to thank ITV Studios for allowing us to host another spectacular Masterclass and to all of our speakers for a thoroughly insightful and entertaining evening:
– Angela Jain
– Andi Peters
– Andrew Mackenzie
– Satmohan Panesar