I’m Emily Coleman – TV Producer with 15 years’ experience, writes Producer Director Emily Coleman. I’ve made primetime programmes for all of the major broadcasters. My ideas have been commissioned by BBC1, ITV and Channel 5.
But I’m also the woman pushing the swings in the park in a soggy anorak. I’m the woman pretending to be a zombie in pursuit of my excited toddlers. I’m the woman whose handbag no longer contains an iPad and a notebook, but loose Smarties, wet wipes and an upended tube of glitter.
Since I had my kids, it feels like I’ve been living a double life – and the two versions of me don’t seem to have much in common. With returning to work on the horizon, I don’t just want to press rewind but find a way to bring the two halves of my life together. So I was thrilled when Amy Walker rang to offer me the ITV place on Media Parents’ Back to Work Scheme.
We met at the Edinburgh TV Festival and took turns to introduce ourselves. It quickly became more confessional than sales pitch, as we exchanged stories of how long we’d been out of the industry. “Stop apologising”, Amy said. “You’re not a TV Producer BUT a mum, you’re a TV Producer AND a mum – and that’s brilliant!”
Edinburgh was a great chance to catch up on everything I’d missed and find out what the commissioners are looking for. ITV’s Richard Klein asked for producers to pitch “the bloody obvious” – but reappraised and well-made – e.g. Rookies. We’ve all watched ob docs about the police, but to see them handling difficult situations for the first time offered something new. Jay Hunt threw down the gauntlet to developers, revealing that at the top of her access wish-list is IKEA – a furnityre company which aspires to change the way we live.
I booked speed meetings with regional BBC talent managers Victoria Goodwin, Victoria Roye and Sue Fletcher – two of whom I’d worked with more years ago than we cared to remember. They made it clear their doors were open and parents with experience were regarded as an asset, not a liability.
We met inspiring mums like Cat Lewis from Nine Lives – who persuaded Granada to set up their first ever job share when her kids were small and now runs her own successful indie – and Emma Morgan from Oxford Scientific Films, who has always worked 3 or 4 days a week since she became a mother.
A special mention goes to Alex Gardiner, MD of ITV Shiver from my sponsoring company ITV Studios, for proving that you can have one of the biggest jobs in TV and still be a thoroughly nice person. He made time for us to have a relaxed and unhurried coffee, where we chatted about family, home, travel and life as well as our careers and approaches to work.
There was lots of talk about how to encourage diversity in TV at the Festival, but we often have a narrow definition of what that means. If we want to make TV that speaks to the whole of the audience, it can’t all be produced by twenty-somethings pulling all-nighters in Soho edit suites. So good luck fellow Media Parents – I have the feeling I’ll be hearing a lot more of all of you in the future.
Emily Coleman is a Yorkshire-based Producer/ Director and Development Producer looking for part-time work or job share.