Media Parents

Monthly Archives: July 2012

5 minutes with… Susan Crook, Series Producer, on her Olympic Special



BBC3's Free Speech Presenter Jake Humphrey and the Olympic panel.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s something very big coming this week…. the Olympics are about to hit our screens in a TV extravaganza like no other. I’m sure a load of Media Parents are working flat out on it, and many others planning to hunker down in front of the TV for the next few weeks.

My Olympic fun has already begun… with Free Speech’s Olympic Special last Wednesday night on BBC3. Free Speech is the Mentorn-made current affairs debate show for young people. I like to think of it as a kick-ass Question Time – giving a much-needed voice to the 18-26 year-old demographic, who often feel disenfranchised. They are frequently accused of being disengaged too, but the success of Free Speech shows this is anything but the case. During one recent show in Bristol an audience member became so incensed I thought he was going to deck presenter Jake Humphrey!

Presenter Jake Humprey and a panel member. BBC3 Free Speech SP Susan Crook is in the talent section of

We wanted to go to East London for July’s live programme, to see how young people living in the shadow of the Olympic Park feel about the Greatest Show on Earth. With an estimated £12bn spent on the Olympics, how much of that has benefitted young people? We got our first answers in advance of the show with an exclusive poll which showed us that while young people are excited about the Olympics they don’t feel they have benefitted financially from them, which was a great starting point for debate.

With an estimated £12bn spent on the Olympics, how much of that has benefitted young people?

We assembled a cracking panel to face interrogation by 120 young people in our studio audience, as well as respond to comments made through our social media channels. On the podium were Skills Minister John Hayes MP; local MP Rushanara Ali; Haringey youth Activist Symeon Brown and Olympic Medallist Tasha Danvers – ready to take on all comers.

Free Speech is a co-commission between BBC Learning and News and Current Affairs; Learning’s programme-making arm, The Lab, provide VTs for the show. The team there found great case histories for us: Eugene – who won an engineering apprenticeship on the Olympic Park and couldn’t be more proud of his new skills and career; and Jaures, who had applied for many different roles on the Park and got none. Ironically, as the G4S scandal broke around us, it transpired he had applied for a job with them as a security guard, but had never heard back. Polite, articulate and multi-lingual, he’s exactly the kind of guy who should be guarding the Park come Friday. He kicked off our questioning and from there on we were into a rollicking hour of combative debate. I didn’t fear for Jake’s safety this time, but both panel and audience were challenged: John Hayes on the economic legacy of the Games; Rushanara Ali on the rooftop missiles installed on homes in her constituency and Tasha Danvers on athletes and body image. We rounded off the show with a searing live performance by young poet Deanna Rodger, who has scripted the show that greets competitors when they arrive at the Olympic village.

BBC3's Free Speech Olympic Panel, as series produced by Susan Crook.

One of the things I am proudest of about Free Speech is its innovative use of social media. As a Media Parent of a certain vintage, I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to engage with social media so intensely. My children are natives – it’s taken me a little longer to get it, but now you will find me tweeting away @mustwatchtvnow.  Free Speech partners with digital media agency Telegraph Hill, who manage our Facebook, Twitter and online interactions as well as the Power Bar. I heart the Power Bar – there is nothing else like it on TV. Viewers add a hashtag to their tweets, showing approval or disapproval of what the panellists are saying. And clever science, which I cannot begin to understand, processes those hashtags in real time, causing the Power Bar to ‘power up’ – or down. It means that Jake and Social Media Jockey Michelle de Swarte can take the panel to task immediately: “…No one at home likes what you are saying – what’s your response?….”

One of the things I am proudest of about Free Speech is its innovative use of social media. As a Media Parent of a certain vintage, I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to engage with social media so intensely. My children are natives...

As a series producer, working with young people in a live environment can be challenging, daunting, uplifting and rewarding all at the same time. And I’ve learned more about Grime  and the urban scene music than I ever thought necessary. But I genuinely believe we are doing a good thing with Free Speech: giving an outlet and a platform for young people to discuss the current issues that matter to them.

SUSAN CROOK IS SERIES PRODUCER ON FREE SPEECH. She is a freelance Series/Executive Producer with a broad range of experience in Factual programming. She’s also mum to Honor, 11 and Unity,  9 who both really enjoy Free Speech! Next show live on BBC3 at 7pm Wednesday August 15th.

Join the debate at:

@BBCFreeSpeech #BBCFreeSpeech

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July 27, 2012 @ 9:23 am Posted in News Leave a comment

5 minutes with… Maggie Walsh, production co-ordinator, drama and factual


Maggie can be found in the Media Parents talent section here :

I have worked as a Coordinator in many areas of Film and Television, which has given me a wide breadth of experience across many aspects.  I feel this gives me plenty of ‘real life’ expertise, as well as an understanding of the wider picture.  I have plenty of experience with things going wrong, so I have learned to think on my feet – and that is more valuable than knowing how to film in a form.  So many of the details of any job can be learned by asking the right question:  I know what I know, and I know when to ask questions!


I am looking to find a Drama Production Company to join and grow with.  I am flexible with the roles I can fulfil.  Eventually I would like to produce, and I feel I am gaining a good base of experience from which to do this, but I realise I still have a lot to learn.  My dream job would be assisting a Producer to learn on the job.

 I spent several years as a project manager and facility administrator at De Lane Lea, the post-production Sound facility, so I learned a great deal about the importance of this often un-recognised medium, as well as a fair bit about deliveries and formats.

Then I moved on to coordinating the costumes for 3 Harry Potter Films, ‘Children of Men’, and ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’.  Charlie involved managing a crew in Morocco, and surviving a blizzard in the Atlas Mountains, so I have some experience of foreign locations, and carrying on under difficult conditions.

Next I moved on to work as the  in-house Drama Coordinator at Shine, which involved supporting Production Offices for anything filming on location, as well as coordinating Castings, Contracts, PR, Marketing, Distribution, Legal, archiving, and any other odds & sods that cropped up.

Then I went back to ‘Potter’ and coordinated 8 documentaries commissioned by Warner Bros for the DVD releases.  It was the last opportunity to gather as much material as possible to keep Harry Potter fans satisfied for years to come, so we had to keep our eyes open and react quickly, all several time zones away from the Producers in Burbank.

In between all of the above, I worked at the BBC, supporting the team in Factual and Entertainment Commissioning.  Those formats turn over quickly, so it was a great opportunity to see things through:  from pitch to commission to recording/ filming and transmission.  I’ve also Coordinated a few Cooking Programmes – which was also good experience in fast paced-quick turn around programming.

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July 25, 2012 @ 4:20 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

Media Parents Summer Birthday Party Photos


A big thank you to everyone who came to the Media Parents Summer Birthday Party, to help us celebrate our 2nd birthday!  We had a great time, the sun shone, everyone sang Happy Birthday and Sara Hill and the Prime Focus team generously plied us all with food and drink – great hospitality in the middle of Soho.  Media Parents is now working with more than 400 companies, and we need more freelancers to fill all our jobs so please spread the word. Please have a look at the photos and guest list below, and if you’d like to contact anyone at the event please log in to

Susie Dark, Donna Taberer, Daisy Newman, Alison Kreps, Jessica Wilson, and Laura Mansfield.

Zoe Fryer, Ginita Jimenez, Tina Lohmann, Matt Holden. Matt Holden started the singing.

Maggie Walsh, Miranda Wayland, Marsha Witter. "Last night was great! Met some fabulous people from ITV, an inspiring director (and a v cute man). Thank you for setting that up!"

Heather Brown, Mike Smith.

Fabien Dudragne, Leo Carlyon, Shaun Gilmartin: "An enjoyable bash! Thanks".

Claire Seeber, Rob Lord. "Well done and thanks for last night!"

Sara Hill.

Amy Walker (Media Parents), Fabien Dudragne, Claire Brown (Media Parents). "It was such a brilliant night! There is so much support for Media Parents. You should be proud Amy, you have got the industry talking about flexible working and created a huge network of very influential people at the same time. All in 2 years!"

Naike Mabois (right): "It was great to meet you yesterday - a wonderful evening and thanks again for the invite. It was very relaxed and a great mix of people".

Chris Chaundler: "I met some great up and coming talent as well as experienced producers, and had a good laugh."

Simon Phillips, Shanet Lewis.

Nikki Albon, Amanny Mohammed, Ginny Bing.

Jules Seymour: "Good party".

Aretha Holmes, Susan Masters.

Tina Lohmann: "I had a nice time and met some great people so thanks for encouraging me to come". Look out for Hazel Palmer (pink and yellow hair, left) in the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Look out for Hazel Palmer (pink and yellow hair, left) in the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Caius Julyan and Sonia Lovett: "Thanks for organising a lovely party. I really enjoyed it."

Ben Justice came all the way from Portsmouth.

Rubia Dar: "Thanks for putting on such a great event last night. It was a really nice way of meeting people and to just chill for the evening. Thanks once again and looking forward to the next one!"

Melanie Leblond: "It was very nice to meet you and some of the members of the Media Parents. Thank you for organising such a lovely birthday party, I had a great time and I met some very nice people!" Look out for Hazel Palmer (pink and yellow hair, left) in the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The Media Parents Summer Birthday Party was generously hosted by Prime Focus If you look closely you can see Media Parents on the roof - thanks to everyone who made it a great party, here's to another great year.

Media Parents Guestlist

Amy Walker Media Parents
Claire Brown Media Parents
Emma Riley Production Executive, Mentorn Media
Matt Holden Executive Producer, Folio / Mentorn
Sally George MD, Walker George Films
Stephen Walker MD, Walker George Films
Miranda Wayland ITV Diversity Manager
Donna Taberer Head of College of Production,  BBC Academy
Olivier Lauchenauer MD, Pogo Films
Richard Johnston COO, Endemol
Jane Hammond Production Manager
Ed Nissen MD, Renegade  Films
Jessica Wilson Director of Talent, Cineflix
Louisa Carbin Production Manager
Susie Dark Head of Production, Outline
Laura Mansfield Joint MD, Outline
Jason Wells SP
Bianca Adefarakhan BBC College of Production
Daisy Newman BBC College of Production
Sara Brailsford Director of Content, Atomized
Jason Crosby NBC Universal
Shaun Gilmartin Head of International Coproductions, WFTN Australia
Edi Smockum Think Bigger
Julian Howse
Marsha Witter Talent Scheme Manager ITV
Kieran Hennigan Assistant Producer at Many Hands Productions
Adrian Tanner Director at Many Hands Productions.
Chris Chaundler Founding Partner VCCP
Emma Macgregor HoP VCCP
Amanda Keane Head of HR, Evolutions
Stef Watkins Editor
Ed Watkins AP
Ellin Stein Producer
Sarah Mills AP
Leo Carlyon Editor
Neil Gallery SP
Victoria Crawley SP
Kai Clear
Alison Kreps SP
Marco Calabrese PC
Heather Brown Development
Caius Julyan Edit Producer
Deola Folarin
Rob Lord Composer
Hazel Palmer Camera Op
Mike Smith
Simon Phillips PD / SP
Aretha Holmes AP
Susan Masters
Mel Leblond Editor
Alina Gavrielatos
Zoe Fryer PD
Sonia Lovett Vision Mixer / Director
Katherine Eisner
Lucie Pemberton Make Up Artist
Claire Seeber Writer / Director
Charlotte Fisher Producer
Emily Freshwater PM
Iain Mitchell Editor
Sally Weale SP / PD
Hayley Smith SP
Susan Drummond Producer
Anna Brabbins 1st AD
Che Charles PD
Paul Ballard Business Development, Airpost TV
Jean Manthorpe Editor
Mikhael Junod Editor
Jim Hickey SP
Dan Glew Development Exec
Amanda Kershaw Producer
Ceri Barnes PM
Philip Jones PD
Ginita Jimenez Producer
Liz Foley Series Editor
Rosie Bowen-Jones SP
Debra Hawkins
Danny Davis Editor
Jackie Chivers Production Manager
Lovejit Dhaliwal AP/PD
Nikki Albon AP
Ben Justice Development
Nainita Desai Composer and Sound Designer
Amanny Mohamed PD
Katinka Newman PD
Joseph Cunningham self shooting PD,  Edit producer, cameraman
Aira Idris
Fabien Dudragne dubbing mixer, sound editor
Jules Seymour SP
Rubia Dar producer
Jeremy Daldry SP
Shaun Wilton Head of Facilities, Shooting Partners
Maggie Walsh PC
Kirstin Dryburgh Head of Production
Lucy Allen
Naike Mabois
Ginny Bing SP
Iain Coyle SP
Tina Lohmann PM
Shanet Lewis
Zan Barberton PD/ Editor
Sammy Todd PC

July 20, 2012 @ 6:34 pm Posted in News 1 Comment

5 minutes with… the calorie cheating cook


In celebration of the Media Parents 2nd Birthday Barbecue this evening, this is an occasional foodie column from a blogger in the NETWORK section of Media Parents.  He doesn’t want to be known as the fat producer, so is blogging here anonymously, about ratatouille, the perfect accompaniment to any barbecue.  Particularly as you can eat it hot when it’s freezing outside…

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Sunshine on a plate, and a dish that always conjures up memories of Provence for me. Where actually I became a bit obsessed with it, making a point of trying it at every restaurant I visited, in some sort of pointless bid to find the ‘ultimate’ ratatouille. I absolutely love the stuff – served barely warm it’s the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat from the barbecue, it’s substantial enough to be a lunch in its own right with just some pitta bread or couscous on the side, and it’s absolutely delicious eaten straight from the fridge with a tablespoon.

But the problem with an authentic home-prepared ratatouille for the calorie counter is that all those lovely, healthy vegetables are supposed to be stewed in olive oil, and as we all know, oil of any kind sends the calorie count skyrocketing – whether it’s extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressed from a single estate, or supermarket lard.

Stewed in oil then – and that’s after you’ve fried each of the vegetables separately. And we haven’t even mentioned the aubergines…

Aubergines of course being basically sponges, with a Tardis-like ability to soak up positively bucketfuls of oil.  But fail to fry them off properly before combining with the other ingredients, and you’ll end up with the sadly all-too-familiar hallmark of a bad ratatouille – rubbery aubergines, an eating experience almost as disgusting as undercooked potato.

Now here’s a tip for frying-off aubergine when the diet’s over and you return to slightly more normal cooking. You’ll hear over and over again from TV chefs on Lorraine and whatnot that these days there’s no need to salt aubergines to remove their juices before cooking. This is nonsense. There is absolutely no doubt that salting them for 30 mins or so in a colander with a weighted plate on top turns those little sponges into something more akin to wet dishrags, with far less of a predilection for drinking neat oil.

But for now that’s irrelevant because much more radical measures are needed for a low calorie ratatouille.  So what I do is coat the bottom of a roasting tin with 1-calorie spray oil, preheat it in the oven, then lay the aubergine slices in and spray them over with an oil mister.  It’s important there’s only one layer so you might need to do a couple of tins or batches. Then shove them in the oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes or so – as you can see from the picture, they’re going to come out looking pretty sorry for themselves, but you’d never know it once they’re combined with the other ratatouille ingredients. Perfectly cooked aubergines in fact – and virtually no oil used in the process.  Don’t salt them first though – or they’ll end up like crisps.

The rest of the recipe is pretty straightforward, not at all authentic in its method I suppose, but I assure you it results in absolutely gorgeous ratatouille.

One more thing. At the end you need to add back some olive oil to the mix in a controlled way. This might sound counter-intuitive but it’s very important – if you don’t do it, you’ll have a vegetable stew, but it won’t be ratatouille.  It’s down to what food scientists call the ‘mouthfeel’ -  and the mouthfeel of olive oil is simply so important to ratatouille that we’re going to have to take a calorie hit to get just enough of it for the recipe to work. Don’t worry, the whole thing still comes in at about 125 calories for a big, filling portion which actually might be too much for some people…… though not me…


4-5 big portions

2 decent sized onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 green peppers cut into strips
2 aubergines, sliced into rings about ¼" thick
250g courgettes, sliced
1½ 400g tins of tomatoes
100 ml white wine
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
Extra virgin olive oil
A small pack of fresh basil, chopped
1 – 1½ tsp salt, black pepper
  1. Prepare the aubergines as described above.
  2. Meanwhile gently fry off the onion until transparent in a teaspoon of olive oil, keeping the heat low. Add the garlic towards the end of the process.
  3. Add the green pepper and continue to cook until softened using extra spray oil if necessary.
  4. Transfer to a saucepan and combine with the tomatoes, wine, courgettes, aubergines and dried herbs, cover the pan and simmer for about 40 minutes until the courgettes are tender. Stir occasionally but gently – you don’t want to break things up – and be careful not to overcook.
  5. Finally, add the fresh basil and seasoning and remove from the heat.
  6. Check the seasoning – make sure there’s enough salt to really bring out the flavours – then stir in 10ml of olive oil.
  7. Serve à tiède – at room temperature – with a glass of rosé, preferably a beautiful amber-coloured Côtes de Provence (not, please, some horrible “blush” concoction)  – or a slightly chilled Bandol red. About 120 extra calories, if your allowance can take it.

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July 19, 2012 @ 11:45 am Posted in News Leave a comment