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8 tips for producing TV in lockdown from SP Gaby Koppel

by Amy Walker

Media Parents Series Producer Gaby Koppel has made a series of Rip Off Britain during lockdown (to read more click here). Here are Gaby and her team’s tips for producing remotely.

SP Gaby Koppel, bottom left, at a Media Parents zoom session. Our next event, a CV Masterclass is on Friday 26th Feb, email via the contact button above for details

8 tips for producing TV remotely, by Gaby Koppel

  1. The daily Zoom team meeting is the most important moment of the day.  It’s your chance to see everybody, gauge the mood, make sure they are doing OK and do something about it if they aren’t.  If somebody’s not contributing much, maybe they are struggling.
  2. However important the Zoom meeting is, don’t let it drag on too long. Short and sharp is better.
  3. Don’t just talk about work – even if you are busy, find some space in the day to chat, use Whatsapp for some fun not just business.  Part of what helps to lighten the atmosphere in the office are conversations  about what was on telly last night and the all-important office gossip. Try to create some water cooler moments.
  4. It’s toughest for the juniors and newbies, and we needed to work hard to keep their spirits up. When I was new in the industry I learnt by osmosis from overhearing more senior people speaking on the phone or between each other.   You can never replicate that, so make sure that somebody on the team is keeping a careful eye on them.
  5. Home schooling: I could see what a struggle it was for parents with school age children. They’d apologise about have to take time out in the middle of the day, and you could tell from the time stamp on their emails that they were making it up at silly o’clock.  Huge credit to them for their dedication to both family and work.
  6. You can produce remotely at a pinch, but edit producing is a whole other ball game.  It meant that instead of watching a cut with an editor you’d have to wait for them to send over the whole thing when it would have been so much faster to whizz through a cut side by side to make sure all changes had been applied before it was due to go to an exec.  It wasn’t possible to spin through archive quickly, or to riffle through a selection of music options – often they’d be laid in and sent over before you had a chance to say ‘Nah.’  There are technical solutions on stream now but we worked without them for most of the year.  In future I’d say to maximise the gains from a remote edit you need to spend money on any technical solution available from day one.  They say if all else fails, try Zoom on the editor’s phone, though I didn’t have to resort to that myself.
  7. The changing rules of lockdown could feel like standing on quicksand – you are having to react more like a daily production than one which is produced over five months.  When that happens and you are changing key bits of commentary or  even coming up with new films at short notice it’s best if you can enjoy the ride and relish the taste of adrenaline.
  8. And finally, on a personal note you need to get out of the house at least once a day or you will go mad. I started running every morning – something I hadn’t done for years.

Gaby Koppel is available now as Series Producer/ Edit Producer:

Series Producer Gaby Koppel remotely surveys her Pop Up Shop team in Manchester

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at Our latest event is a CV masterclass on Feb 26th

February 24, 2021 @ 12:54 pm Posted in How To, News Comments Off

5 minutes with series producer Gaby Koppel making TV in lockdown

by Amy Walker

It was the moment that I really did take my eye off the ball. Up in the back bedroom of my Hackney home I was supposed to be ‘eyeballing’ the latest series of consumer programme Rip-Off Britain: Holidays, which meant I should have been checking every frame for mistakes and corrections – it’s the final safety net before transmission.  But my focus had wandered and mentally I floated off to the North of England’s glitziest shopping mall, writes Series Producer Gaby Koppel.

Series Producer Gaby Koppel remotely surveys her Pop Up Shop team in Manchester

But this was no fantasy shopping trip – I’d stopped the video on a sequence showing our production team at work on our annual Pop Up Shop at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.  It’s  a chance for presenters and experts to meet the public, and what’s unusual about Pop Up is that the crews are there on screen, so in the wide shots I could see all our producers, film makers and researchers.  By now the clock was ticking – up in Salford our facilities house was on tenterhooks for me to green light delivery, but instead of getting on with the job of checking captions and scripts and blurring, I was thinking ‘Oo there’s Natalie – and is that Steve?’  I let it play on a few more seconds and stopped again, ‘There’s Sherry and Kirk and even from behind I can tell that’s Ian’.

Suddenly reality kicked in, and with a jump I realised my mind wasn’t just wandering because I was tired – it was because I’d missed simply being physically in the room with people.  Being there with them, not on a screen, a phone or an email. This was my first time series producing remotely.

Right at the beginning of lockdown I worked on a quickly assembled daily daytime show for BBC1 One.  Healthcheck UK Live presented by Dr Xand van Tulleken, Michelle Ackerley, Angela Rippon and Mr Motivator scored a huge hit with the viewing public.  A small part of a large team, I was producing series of film inserts remotely instead of my weekly routine of getting on the train at Euston and heading north for three nights a week.  When my kids were younger I’d have leapt at the opportunity to do a TV job from home, but by now they’ve flown the nest I was more concerned about missing out on seeing my Manchester Uni student son.

At first the idea of running a team I’d never met in person while producing TV from our distant bedrooms and kitchens seemed like a ridiculous novelty.  But like TV people all around the country we discovered how adaptable we were.  Of course it was fascinating to see the rails of kids clothes, the geography course-work displays and the type of bedspreads favoured by my colleagues, but it could also feel like working in slow motion – initially all of us racked up huge hours to get the job done.  That’s because we work in a world greased by communication – a nod, a smile, even a joke around the long desk we share can move a production forward without having to send round a group email or schedule in a Zoom meeting.

SP Gaby Koppel, bottom left, at a Media Parents zoom session. Our next event, a CV Masterclass is on Friday 26th Feb, email via the contact button above for details

But it proved to be like learning a complicated yoga move – as time went on we picked up momentum and surprised ourselves by our agility as we learnt how to juggle Zooms, phone calls, Whatsapp messages and emails to get the team dynamics right and move things on. Even when you are 200 miles away you can sense when a one-to-one chat will boost somebody whose motivation is flagging, or when you can straighten out a film that has gone off course by summoning 5 key people to join an ad hoc video conference.

A team spread all over the UK was soon working efficiently. Of course the only people actually leaving home were the film makers, DITs and runners – their jobs made significantly  more laborious by the wiping , the distancing, the masks, the having to film outdoors if you can despite the weather, the constant reference to health and safety advisors, and a maximum travel time of 90 minutes.  Yet some of the results were astonishingly good because we had adapted to the circumstances, and because we were able to call on some top class PDs at short notice.

Julia Somerville and some of Gaby Koppel's Rip Off Britain team

We made a series of cookery films at chef Ellis Barrie’s Anglesey kitchen – with the restaurant shut we had the place to ourselves, and it was roomy enough to keep our distance.  Ground Force veteran Tommy Walsh made over his garden for us,  and Jay Blades worked his magic on an old chair in his airy workshop.  All credit to PDs Anneliese Edwards, Debbie Martin and Josh Newman.

Sometimes it is true that we had to lower our standards both technically and in terms of content – but the audience forgave us as if it was an imperfect hand-knitted sweater that had been made with love. When Gregg Wallace was good enough to film something on his phone for us – I’m sure he would have  had the grace to admit that he was somewhat out of his depth –  we were just grateful to him for being so game. I produced a two part interior design feature where the film maker remained outside the house (high five to PD Charlie Preston) , and we got endless mileage out of the contents of Chris Bavin’s fridge.  To achieve it we were innovating and problem solving every day, because that’s what we do.

By the time we went into production with Rip Off Britain: Holidays in August a lot of the lessons about how to make it work had been learned.  And though it could sometimes still feel like walking through quicksand in oversize wellies, we were beginning to find those magic moments all over again.   With thanks to my fabulous team, click here for some thoughts:

8 tips for producing TV in lockdown from SP Gaby Koppel

There’s been a lot of talk about the world of work being permanently changed by what we’ve learnt during lockdown. Though I personally cannot wait to get back to the office, I have to grudgingly admit that we’ve learned stuff that is transformational, like being able to recruit researchers and producers regardless of where they are based geographically.  I predict that video conferencing is going to be an essential part of our toolkit for the foreseeable future and some of our Zoom interviews have turned out to be high spec enough to use even when we don’t have to.

Those of us who have been lucky enough to work through this year will never forget it. I hope that everybody in the industry will eventually benefit from some of the innovations that have been forced out of us  – the progress may have been painful, but in retrospect it was nothing short of remarkable.

Gaby Koppel is available as Series Producer/ Edit Producer

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at Our latest event is a CV masterclass on Feb 26th

@ 12:51 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Producer Jodie Chillery

by Amy Walker

It was February 2020, and it was Prince Harry’s final engagement. With Lewis Hamilton, HRH was set to open a motor museum before a new life awaited in America. For me it was the shoot that would be the final tick in the box for my development to get its long-awaited greenlight, writes Media Parents Producer Jodie Chillery.

Development Producer Jodie Chillery works on access to Prince Harry.

Two years I’d been working on access to secure a new series that would see me directing shoots at the Isle of Man TT, the Silverstone GrandPrix and Manchester’s Parklife Festival. The positive parley with Prince Harry’s people to allow me to cover this event was definitely going to guarantee 2020 as a career highlight…

…And then it was March 2020.

The green light turned to amber.

The amber light has since dimmed so much it’ll require more than a battery change to resurrect the pitch.

Today, I’m teacher to a 9 year old boy who, for the most part, is more intelligent than I, loves a debate and is very strong willed in working on doing his own thing in his own time.  I don’t have the relevant qualifications, patience, resilience, willpower, skill, experience or desire to be a teacher.

Despite my obvious love for all things filming and TV, I’ve grown to hate You Tube and its inane content with such ferocity that most days I come close to doing a Kirstie Allsopp and threaten to smash any screen that dares to air its jaunty little red and white logo.

If you thought two years for access was a long time, that was a doddle compared to the two and a half hours to complete one 12 X tables worksheet. I cried. He cried. The video wouldn’t play. The printer told us to f*ck off. He demanded 84 counters so he could work out how many times 12 goes into 84. I dutifully cut up and coloured 84 tiny, floaty, bits of paper only for this unintentional confetti to end up under the bed, behind the cupboard and in my underwear. Ultimately I screamed “SEVEN, it’s seven!”

This was not the career highlight I had been hoping for.

Producer Jodie Chillery at the TV day job that's definitely easier than homeschooling!

For respite, we make a regular trip to the pharmacy and paper shop for a shielding neighbour. Over the months, we’ve watched a Barn Owl nest, hunt and hope to spot its owlets fledge. We’ve watched the trilogies of Back to the Future, The Karate Kid and Short Circuit. And when school was briefly open I coached a teacher in basic camera skills and edited his footage for a Remembrance film and their Christmas performance.

Isolation, sickness, death, the darkness of winter, the 12 times table, fronted adverbials and what the Vikings at Lindisfarne ate will all, I‘m sure, make me a better producer, and a more grateful workmate.

It’ll soon be March again. March the 8th precisely (International Women’s Day!), I’m led to believe is when I’ll be available for work. Give me posturing princes, apprehensive police officers and sensitive scripts any day, I’m more than ready to take them on!

If you’re looking for work after homeschooling join us for How to Ace a Job Interview Online.

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at

February 7, 2021 @ 6:52 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, News Comments Off

Event: How to Ace A Job Interview Online

by Amy Walker

Face any online interview fearlessly with Media Parents Director Amy Walker’s TV industry tips at Media Parents’ February event.

Get Prepared, Feel Confident. See the Media Parents watercooler for tickets. (Photo: Clare Lawrence

Join us from 12 – 1pm on Friday 12th February 2021 for an interactive online workshop: How to Ace A Job Interview Online. Sign up for your ticket via the Media Parents watercooler or non-members click here to email us for details.

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at

@ 6:32 pm Posted in Events, How To, TV Training Comments Off

5 minutes with Jonathan Richardson User Researcher

by Amy Walker

I drifted into user research from my media work, writes Media Parents’ Jonathan Richardson. Back in the day of BBC iPlayer’s launch I gathered feedback and worked with the development team to prioritise improvements and test new ideas.

Since then I’ve been working on a range of websites and services to uncover audience insights. While I’ve mainly worked in government and academia, I’m looking to pivot back to focus on media organisations. There’s a clear opportunity for organisations to get into user research to understand their audiences.

User research is a mix of roles: combine journalism with anthropology, academic research and a lot of project management. And it makes for a highly interesting job.

I ensure that organisations understand their audiences by creating research to understand user motivation and behaviour. Once we have a good working knowledge I then lead teams to create new designs to determine if these improve the user experience.

This can be making a website be clearer and flow better. For example, so students find the right course for them. Or I map out journeys and processes to understand where the pain points and opportunities are.

My work has mainly been remote based, even before lockdown. I can spend most of my day interviewing people then documenting and analysing it. Interviews can be like therapy to some as I listen to them vent or talk their troubles out. My journalism background definitely helps with interviewing.

User Researcher Jonathan Richardson

I also combine my freelance work with my own start-up plans for a remote writers’ room using Agile project management methods. I’ve been running this for the past year and we recently completed our goal of having a proof-of-concept that shows the process works.

I’m fortunate in that my wife was taking 2020 as maternity leave for our daughter so we haven’t had fights over who got to use the home office. Our son started school in September and we’re thankful that he’s enjoying it and is back with friends.

The amount of work has reduced slightly since Covid but there’s still plenty of demand. I use any free time to work on my own projects and train others in user research.

So if you’re looking to find out more about working in Agile and user research, or want to let me know about problems in your organisation, do get in touch. Likewise connect if you want to find out more about the remote writers room.

Get in touch here or via Media Parents

December 9, 2020 @ 12:19 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, How To Comments Off

Christmas Quiz December 10th

by Amy Walker

Steve Wynne, MD of  production company Strawberry Blond, winner of Broadcast’s Best Place to Work in TV 2019, is compering a Christmas Quiz on December 10th – so join us! The quiz supports Mental Health Resource charity, and costs £10 per family. It starts at 8pm on December 10th so mobilise your team and sign up below:

Thanks to Steve Wynne for supporting Media Parents over the years!

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at

November 29, 2020 @ 6:20 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Exec Producer Meriel Beale

by Amy Walker

I would love to call on your help, writes Exec Producer Meriel Beale.

I’ve recently become the Anti Bullying and Harassment officer for Bectu Unscripted. I’m putting together an awareness raising campaign for anti bullying week (16th November) and I’m asking for stories of bullying & harassment in the TV industry.

I have already been sent many stories, sadly, but it would be good to have some more.

If you have an experience that you would be happy to share, you can do so anonymously without identifying any parties, via the form below.

Your testimonies will form part of the campaign from Bectu and the Film & TV Charity under the hashtag #UnseenOnScreen, so you should be aware & happy that your anonymous experiences may appear on social media.

The idea is to show how many people are affected by bullying and harassment, and to reinforce that we are stronger together.

This is the first step in the campaign, more will be revealed to try to deal with this industry-wide issue.

I hope this is ok, many thanks for your help.

Meriel Beale (centre)

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at

November 13, 2020 @ 2:22 pm Posted in Events, News Comments Off

5 minutes with PD Kate Dooley

by Amy Walker

Returning PD Kate Dooley writes: Art imitates life imitates art. Having had a baby in February, Kate is now looking for a job share partner as she returns to work. Her latest series Becoming You, narrated by Olivia Colman, TXes tonight, 13th November on Apple TV. Read on…

I’m great in a pub quiz (remember those?). It’s down to years of working on tv shows about anything and everything. Scouring the internet for surprising yet accessible take home facts and stories which can visually delight and emotionally entertain both an exec and a viewer.

When was the first 747 flight? I filmed aboard the pilot 747 plane in Seattle. Which is the only British Town with an exclamation mark? Shot there for Escape to the Country. Why are humans the only mammals with visible eye whites? Edit produced a show on child development.

PD Kate Dooley at work

But this information has never been truly useful until now… On Friday 13th November “Becoming You” will air on Apple TV+ . An epic documentary following children around the globe grow and develop from birth to age 5. Beautifully shot, sweet and informative – even more so for me as I gave birth to my first child just after working on the show.

8 months later and I’m still looking back at my research notes to help guide and inform me, by which I mean not spend hours googling things which tell me I should take my child to A&E immediately. The most useful info for having a baby in the age of covid-19 is understanding why after months of lockdown baby’s first reaction to her grandparents was fierce tears when before lockdown she was all smiles with any old Tom, Dick or Harry.

It turns out babies around 8 months develop the capacity to compare faces to the handful of people they know. If they don’t recognise them their developing emotion of fear kicks in to let them know this person might not be safe. Of course stranger danger is a hugely important development step but it’s very comforting to know her reaction to her grandparents is perfectly normal and can be reversed with time spent together.
This fact is illustrated in the show in a scene with a cute Mexican boy which I edit produced. The children in the series are real life examples from across the world of the amazing steps in development we all go through, but it’s not often that my real life then imitates my job!

I’m now looking to return to work perhaps through a job share and the series has helped me here too by working with a range of inspiring mums.

With ex Channel 4 head and ex BBC controller Jay Hunt as the Apple TV+ commissioner, talented MD of Wall to Wall Leanne Klein to guide us, knowledgable Edit Series Producer Helen Sage and ever hardworking producer Victoria Weaver to help find the amazing characters that were featured. Working on this doc has shown me that it really is possible to have children and keep producing exciting programming and progress my career.

So if you’re interested in job sharing or forming an unbeatable pub quiz team let me know!

PD Kate Dooley

Pub Quiz Answers:
1969 though Pan Am only starting flying them commercially in 1970.
Westward Ho!
Human babies are born with poor eyesight so eye whites help them make eye contact easily. Eye contact triggers the release of the love hormone which helps to bond parent and baby.

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at

@ 2:09 pm Posted in News Comments Off

showcasing artist Ben Fenton

by Amy Walker

If you’re looking for ways to extend the summer, artist Ben Fenton’s coastal works are reasonably priced and will lift a room. Currently exhibiting at the Electric Palace Cinema in Hastings, Ben also sells paintings and commissions direct from his facebook page and website.

“I grew up in Dungeness, and Greatstone, and Rye, and Winchelsea Beach, writes Ben Fenton. I grew up on and beside the Romney Marsh. My father was a fisherman and I was putting to sea with him from the age of four. I grew up with the sound of saltwater dragging shingle away to someplace else. I grew up with the weight of an uninterrupted sky pressing down upon me. I grew up in a land that had been borrowed from the deep. A land that built structures from wood, and stone, and concrete to celebrate it, and to keep from giving it back. I am now returned to the coast of Kent and Sussex and I am painting the souvenirs of my past.”

Artist Ben Fenton, originally from Dungeness, has forged out a successful career in London for more than 12 years, but wanted to return to the Romney Marsh to get away from the distractions of living in the capital and seek new inspiration and challenges for his work. Ben’s stunning paintings can be found in private collections all over Europe and the UK and he continues to exhibit in diverse spaces in London, Kent and East Sussex.

August 30, 2020 @ 6:00 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Channel 4 legal How not to get Sued

by Amy Walker

SOLD OUT: Join us for a spot of networking and to hear Channel 4’s Rowena Cordrey and Fiona McAllister deliver their hour long ‘Ultimate Legal & Compliance Masterclass’ for Media Parents on Tuesday 21st July. 4′s legal team will be helping you to navigate the tricky world of legal and compliance and giving you their dos and don’ts for staying on the right side of the law.

Join Media Parents for Channel 4's How Not to Get Sued session, see link below for zoom details

Rowena Cordrey

Ro is a Senior Lawyer in Channel 4’s Legal & Compliance team, which is renowned for its enabling advice as part of the Channel’s unique risk-taking remit.  She provides legal, compliance and ethical advice on all aspects of television programming – broadcast and online – before and after broadcast, including its promotion and marketing.

Ro trained and then qualified as a media law solicitor at Farrer & Co in 2009, principally advising tabloid newspaper clients as well as magazines and regional publishers.  She worked for the BBC in their Litigation team before first joining Channel 4 for just over 4 years.  Ro was Deputy Head of Compliance at ITN (which produces the news for Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5) working across news and on a number of high-profile undercover investigations, including the award-winning Cambridge Analytica (C4 News) and ‘Gay Conversion’ Therapy (ITV News) investigations.  Ro then worked at Viacom before returning to Channel 4 this year.

Fiona McAllister

Fiona is an experienced media lawyer currently advising production companies and Channel 4 both pre and post-publication on legal, regulatory compliance and ethical issues which arise in the making and broadcast of programmes, online content and marketing campaigns on all Channel 4 platforms. Fiona focuses on all content-related matters, including defamation, privacy, contempt and fairness issues.

Prior to joining Channel 4 she spent around 12 years in private practice – based at leading media firm, Simkins LLP, generally advising Claimants (individual and companies) on media related issues and acting against the media. Prior to that Fiona was with a Scottish firm, Burness Paull LLP where she advised BBC Scotland and regularly provided programme legal advice on all aspects of media law affecting BBC output. She is dual qualified and admitted to practise in England & Wales as well as Scotland.

Amy Walker

Amy will be hosting the Channel 4 session on behalf of Media Parenst. She champions diverse creative talent, and set up Media Parents ten years ago to facilitate that. She is a factual TV Series Producer and Talent Exec and has just completed a 2-year EMBA sponsored by Channel 4. Her most recent series for Channel 4 was BAFTA-nominated. She lives in Hastings.

This event is now SOLD OUT. To support Media Parents and join our future events please join us here.

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at

July 16, 2020 @ 4:04 pm Posted in Events, How To, News, TV Training Comments Off