Television Producer
BBC Belfast

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Natalie M

00:02 My name is Natalie M and I’m a television producer and I work for BBC Northern Ireland.

00:06 I have a very varied job one minute I can be sitting in the office researching the myth of Atlantis the next day I can be out filming in a pole dancing bar about two grave robbers called Burke and Hare. I went to school and realised that I was really interested in writing and that was when I was about 11 but I had absolutely no idea what career that I would end up in or how I would get there. When I was in secondary school journalism and the whole kind of media world and media broadcasting industry wasn’t very, very it was a bit of a dark art, and essentially there was no straightforward career path to get there. Discovered that I could go to the Morning Observer Newspaper, so I went there in my lower sixth for work experience, against the better judgement of my career teacher I have to say and I met a fantastic editor who basically allowed me to write an article and that was it from that moment, from the age of 17 when I wrote an article about the Queen coming to one of the local villages. I decided that I was going to be a journalist.

01:13 I felt very pressured, because I went to a school that was very science orientated and the media was considered as something that was a bit flimsy and a bit, you know not, not the thing to do essentially. So I applied for one of the courses in London. It was called City University, and I applied for broadcast journalism. The reason that I did that was because after I finished university I took a year out because I wasn’t sure how I would get into this course or how to apply for it, or what experience I needed and I went to work for what was then Belfast Community radio and now City Beat, as a volunteer. So for a year I worked for no money. I lived on the dole went to work in bars at night, and I had, it was one of the best times of my life and eventually I presented my own programme called women’s hour got only knows what I talked about (Laughs) and then at that stage I applied for the course in London. So I’d gathered up a good bit of experience and I realise now looking back, that I, there’s no way I would have got on that course without that pretty serious experience.

02:22 My dad is a cobbler, my mother’s a teacher, absolutely it was just a, you know it was a new departure for our family that someone like me would go into the media, but my parents were always very behind me, very much that if that was what I wanted to do then I should pursue my goal.

02:38 I took a job in a magazine called Mergers and Acquisitions, in the centre of London, completely in the middle of the financial district, writing 15,000 word articles for this periodical. Of course my first article was about the chocolate industry so I chose to write about something that I could actually understand. I worked there for a year and I earned £16,000 which was a huge amount of money at the time, I had no knowledge whatsoever of anything to do with mergers or acquisitions but I managed to bluff my way and I got through the year. Worked in Good Morning Ulster basically as a runner, but essentially I was making tea for Wendy Austin and Seamus McKee for the guts of a year. (Laughs) Which I didn’t mind, I was happy to do as long as I was in the BBC and I had the potential to go somewhere and do something.

03:34 I think the thing about the industry that I work in is that it’s one of the most difficult industries in some ways to get into there isn’t necessarily a straightforward career path and I think the thing that just kept me going was a sense of belief in myself.

03:48 Ultimately this industry is about, is incredibly subjective, which means that one person not, may not believe in you but someone else will and you just really have to wait until the boss comes in that you’re gonna get on.

Natalie M is a television producer for BBC Northern Ireland. Her gap year experience, volunteering at a local radio station, proved invaluable to her when she was applying for jobs after completing a degree. Natalie now enjoys a varied role – “one minute I can be sitting in the office researching the myth of Atlantis the next day I can be out filming in a pole dancing bar”.

More information about Arts officers, producers and directors

average salary

The UK average salary is £28,758

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

43%  male 
57%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future Employment

Future employment?

? Arts officers, producers and directors assume creative, financial and organisational responsibilities in the production and direction of television and radio programmes, films, stage presentations, content for other media, and the promotion and exhibition of other creative activities.
Entry can be via academic qualifications, BTEC/SQA awards, diplomas or degrees in sector-relevant subjects. Apprenticeships are available at NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in some areas.
  • Chooses writers, scripts, technical staff and performers, and assumes overall responsibility for completion of project on time and within budget;
  • Directs actors, designers, camera team, sound crew and other production and technical staff to achieve desired effects;
  • Breaks script into scenes and formulates a shooting schedule that will be most economical in terms of time, location and sets;
  • Prepares rehearsal and production schedule for main events, design of sets and costumes, technical rehearsals and dress rehearsals;
  • Ensures necessary equipment, props, performers and technical staff are on set when required;
  • Manages health and safety issues;
  • Selects, contracts, markets and arranges for the presentation and/or distribution of performance, visual and heritage arts.
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