I’m currently free so if anyone needs a Production Manager? writes Helen Landeau. It’s been five years since my return to tellyland and Media Parents were there to support me back into the cut and thrust of the production office like I’ve just come out of rehab! Previously, I had done sixteen years at the BBC as Production Co-ordinator and got my parole via redundancy in 2006. I left to join the Filofax clan of the corporate world in the dizzying heights of the concrete jungle that is Canary Wharf but the calling to return home to TV was deafening and so after eight years, I relented. No regrets!
In my last Media Parents blog, I’d just finished working on the BBC One landmark documentary, ‘Stephen: The Murder That Changed A Nation’. To date, an important documentary to me personally and professionally. Being almost the same age of Stephen, I was there throughout the timeline of events and thought I’d known everything about this tragic event but the forensic research unearthed things that I didn’t even know! When it was broadcasted in April 2018, me and the production team didn’t expect the reception we’d receive from the viewers and industry peers – it made the hard work so worthwhile. However, the post production paperwork wasn’t so great but hey, someone’s gotta do it and it was muggins.
Leaving that behind, I went to Emporium Productions (part of Hat Trick) and was Production Manager on ‘Donal MacIntyre’s Murder Files’ for CBS Reality. This series was green-screen studio with drama recon and about visiting solved murder cases with the lead detective. I finally got to meet Clive Driscoll as I didn’t get the opportunity from the Stephen Lawrence series. I worked with a cracking team especially Nick Kenton, a brilliant Series Producer. This was the second series and it ran quite smoothly (can’t say that too often these days) and working with a pro like Donal – it was great.
After delivery of the Donal series, I stayed on at Emporium and working with Nick again on a brand-new series called ‘Talking Animals: Tales From The Zoo’ for Channel 5. This was a bit of a challenge (which I do like) as it included working with voice-over artists and comedy writers. What’s the problem with that I hear you cry? Well, as a factual PM, you don’t usually work on a cross-genre programme every day.
We filmed at Jersey Zoo and it was a fantastic opportunity to go on location to visit the island of Jersey, see the animals at Jersey Zoo (created by Gerald Durrell – as in the comedy drama, ‘The Durrells’) and of course, making sure my team were okay.
Working on this production kept me laughing every day and sometimes, I step back and it’s such a privilege to be doing this job. Keep an eye out as it’s due for TX on Channel 5 early next year!