5 Favourite Moments from 5 Years at the BBC
In 2003, I entered a competition to interview Madonna for the BBC. I remember running upstairs to fact-check that the multiple-choice competition answer was, indeed, ‘B’ on my Dad’s computer. Infuriated by my interruption, he told me that I’d never win. Imagine my ‘told you so’ moment when I DID win.
While it was amazing interviewing Madonna and attending her launch party, my main memory from that day is visiting the world-famous Television Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. As I recorded voiceovers and worked with the Researcher on the story, I knew I wanted to work at the BBC. It felt like winning competition the day I was handed my BBC pass 11 years later. After five years working at the Beeb in London, Manchester and New York, here are my five most memorable moments from my career so far:
- Ed Balls doing Gangnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing 2016
I’ve worked as a Digital Producer on two seasons of Strictly Come Dancing. You get so embroiled in every moment and forget that a world exists beyond the glitter and sequins and that not everyone else cares that the first 10 of the series was awarded, or that a history-making Rumba was danced. However, there are rare moments on the series when a dance is so bold, so big, so groundbreaking that it does break into the public consciousness. This is what happened when the former Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, danced the Gangnam Style live on national television.
I had seen the dress rehearsal earlier that day and had cried tears of laughter. I simply loved how willing Ed was to, well, go for it. I was part of the Digital Team responsible for amplifying the video across the Internet and it went viral, naturally. I challenge you to watch and not smile. It was so iconic that it was even nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for ‘Must See Moment’.
2. Social Media Producing the tear-jerking BBC One Christmas 2017 Advert
Christmas Adverts in the UK are a big deal. Every year, brands pull out all the stops to make the ad that everyone is talking about. BBC One blew everyone out the water in 2017, with a wonderful animated film ‘The Supporting Act’.
The two-minute ad follows a 10-year-old girl who practices day in and day out to give the most important dance performance of her life. Her dad is always with her but he’s busy and remains distracted up until the moment that really matters when father and daughter come together in a wonderful moment of ‘oneness’. It was created by BBC Creative, Blinkink and puppet makers MacKinnon & Saunders (Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie).
In all the top-secret meetings before launch, we knew it was special. But we could never have predicted the response. I was responsible for the Social Media campaign around the release and secured nearly every single BBC account to post the video at the same time. It took the Internet by storm and was one of BBC One’s most successful videos of all time, racking up an incredible 42 million views on Facebook. It was so wonderful working with a team on such a beautiful piece, that even had people wiping away a tear. It was a true demonstration of the magic that happens when multi-disciplinary teams come together and I’m really proud of that.
3. Interviewing Cate Blanchett and Jim Carrey in Los Angeles for the BAFTA Britannia Awards
Since 2018, my BBC experience has been in New York working for BritBox, a streaming service for British TV created by the BBC and ITV. One of my most memorable experiences to date was producing an hour-long Facebook Live from the Britannia Awards red carpet. BritBox was the official streaming partner for the Awards and it was my job to capture all the red carpet action ahead of the ceremony. I was crouched on the floor directing host Ross King, feeding him with audience questions, ushering guests along the carpet and trying to keep my head out of the way (which I definitely failed at a few times).
We secured interviews with some of the biggest names in the business, including Jim Carrey, Cate Blanchett, Steve McQueen, Kevin Feige and Damian Lewis. We even managed to capture a press-making moment, in which Dame Joan Collins chatted away to Cate Blanchett. After the red carpet, I got to sit at a table at the Award ceremony. I’m usually running around behind the scenes, so sitting down to dinner with Jim Carrey and Damian Lewis on tables either side was a definite bonus.
4. Bringing the Royal Wedding 2018 coverage to the US and Canada
It was the wedding of the year. Prince Harry was marrying American actress Meghan Markle. A Brit and an American. It couldn’t have been a more perfect union for our British TV lovers in the US and Canada. I led the live coverage on social for BritBox, sharing the moments as they happened and engaging a loyal community of fans around the most-talked event of the year. After a 3.30am wake-up call, I was eagerly awaiting live clips from the ITV newsroom in London and sharing them with audiences in the US and Canada. I then also took stock of the best moments to brief in videos around some of the key parts of the day, with a creative spin. This included an adorable look at the real stars of the Royal Wedding. N’awwww.
Oh, and I also got my first voiceover moment as my voice was beamed into cinemas across the US for this trailer for BritBox screenings in partnership with Fathom Events.
5. Watching my favourite bands up close thanks to Radio 2
Radio is one of my favourite mediums and I love music. So, working at Radio 2 and just one flight of stairs away from near weekly BBC Radio 6 Music sessions was an actual dream. During my 6 months as Radio 2’s resident Social Media Producer, I tripped upstairs to see Father John Misty, Laura Marling, Phoenix and more. I even got to see my teenage obsession Maximo Park and meet Paul Smith. I chickened out when I was asked to do a Boomerang of him doing his infamous scissor kick. Teenage Katie would have died. And 27-year-old Katie was dying too. I also got to watch Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie perform Songbird on a piano and it was incredible as it sounds. When I look back on this time, I realise how special it was to be in a building broadcasting to a nation.
It’s hard to distil five years into five moments, and of course, there are plenty memorable (and not so memorable) moments, but I’m forever grateful to the BBC for introducing me to some of my favourite people, coworkers and friends, and for my small role in its storytelling legacy.