This is a concise, essential insider's guide for anyone wanting a career in the TV industry - from students and undergraduates to those just starting out or working in TV career.
Packed with advice, guidance and useful information this 36 page digital eBook is invaluable and available to buy at Payhip
Table Of Contents
About the Author
- About the Author
- Why Work in Television?
- TV Jobs Roles and Possible Career Paths
- How To Become a Freelancer
- How to get a Job in Television
- Network, network, network
- Create a ‘Hit List’ – Your Own Job Database
- Work Experience
- How To Get on In Television
- The Cover Letter
- Writing Your CV
- And Finally
- TV Industry Organisations
Born in the London Borough of Barnet to an
Italian mother and English father, Elsa
attended state schools in Hertfordshire
before going to study History and English at
Sussex University. She began freelance
writing for the nationals and music press. At
the same time she did an MA in magazine
journalism at The London College of Printing
(now UAL). There she met now famous TV
presenter, Anna Richardson. Anna tipped
Elsa off about a job on Big City, an ITV
So she called up, sent her CV and cover letter, had two interviews, sent several samples
of her writing and shared her music contact book. Despite having no TV experience, she
was offered a six week probationary contract and so she got her first job in television.
Elsa freelanced working in different roles as assistant producer, producer/director
producer, and series producer on live studio and location comedy entertainment shows
and as a development as a producer at RDF Media, Fox and BBC Entertainment before
she joined an indie as a Development producer/Head of Talent in 2005.
In 2008 she set up her own headhunting business, TV Talent and wrote How To Get A
Job in Television. She worked for Firecracker Films, Raw TV, Objective and Outline
before joining Dragonfly Film and TV as Head of Talent in 2011 staffing shows such as
One Born Every Minute, The Hotel and the Plane Crash.
In 2013 she joined the BBC as Talent Manager for History and soon picked up
Documentaries, BBC Three and Popular Factual finding talent for Louis Theroux, The
Met, Life and Death Row and Amazing Hotels.
In 2016 and with the creation of BBC Studios Elsa moved into Factual Entertainment,
Music and Events staffing, and live events.
Elsa has produced and presented her own workshops with Screenskills and taken part in
panels with BAFTA, RTS, The Sheffield Docfest as well as the BBC’s own talent networks
Over 50,000 freelancers work in Television in the UK according to figures from
Screenskills/DCMS for 2018 and it's a thriving industry annually turning over £13.4 million
and contributing massively to GDP. The contribution by the TV sector to the economy
increased from £2.5 billion in 2007 to £6.1 billion in 2016 – an increase of 140%.
In 2020, Covid caused massive disruption and halted production all together, particularly
drama and studio entertainment. Whereas there was an increase in production of archive
lead, past tense, social history documentaries and of course science documentaries on
the virus itself. New filming protocols have been put in place and despite the challenges
and difficulties of making shows in a global pandemic, TV is still being made, just
differently. And with more viewers at home watching TV, it is in more demand than ever.
In December 2020, Broadcast magazine reported that, “demand is rocketing as
production gets back on track” with new facilities and site expansions are coming down
the line. New Studios are being built around the UK to facilitate production and the
demand for content.
Lack of studio space has been an issue in recent years and producers have complained
about the challenges of locating studio space in the UK. With record levels of film and TV
production, which hit £3.62bn in the UK in 2019 according to the British Film Institute
(BFI), demand is high, particularly for both shiny-floor TV studios and drama stages.
Content production in the UK has innovated,
adapted and evolved to make programmes
under these new and difficult conditions.
Freelancers are working from home - more
production set up, casting and research is
being done remotely and teams
communicate through video conferencing.
Teams on shoots are smaller and more compact as they have to observe Covid
protocols. In some cases the producers and directors direct the shoots remotely, guiding
contributors to film themselves. During Covid, editing started to take place at home,
reducing the cost and expense of working in an edit suite in a post production facility.
The arrival of iPlayer, the success of Netflix and digital platforms such YouTube
commissioning original content have been gamechangers in how TV is consumed
No longer reliant on TV schedules, viewers can access shows on demand with all
episodes of series available as a boxset to binge watch. The BBC recently reviewed its
commissioning structure asking indies to pitch to the Iplayer audience rather than pitch a
show to a particular channel and time slot. Netflix has over 14 million subscribers in the
In these strange times, with audiences watching and relying on traditional TV now more
than ever, viewing figures are high, as is demand for content. It goes without saying that
TV needs high skilled freelancers to create this content.
Working in TV is seen as creative and exciting. And it is. No one day or show is ever the
same, it’s compelling and interesting, never boring or predictable. It is challenging and
deadline driven which can be incredibly stressful. Freelancers work long hours to deliver
and in some places there is a culture of overwork which leads to exhaustion and many
people burning out. It isn’t a job for life… but what is?
There’s no job security and you're dealing with constant change as a freelancer in
production. However, if you're organised you become used to finding work and can
prepare for fallow periods. There's also a lot of crossover and opportunity within other
media industries that feed into TV – Special Effects, sound engineering and design, set
design. Or making content for brands or advertising which tend to have longer contracts.
Average weekly pay in TV is double the national average and the rewards can be
enormous if you climb to the top of the tree and create or are involved in a hit format that
sells globally or the sale of a production company.
As an 'in demand' creative and successful executive producer or development executive
you can earn a six figure salary, plus performance related bonuses in roles that are staff
– as the production company tries to lock in your talent.
TV attracts sharp thinking, clever and well educated people and it has a high proportion
of privately educated, Oxbridge graduates according to the Guardian. However, the
industry recognises that it needs to be more diverse and inclusive to reflect its audience
and work force – especially in London where the population is 40% minority ethnic.
Charlotte Moore, the BBC's Chief Content
Officer, has lead an initiative to make TV
production teams more inclusive. The BBC
has a rider in which TV production
companies who make shows for the BBC
must ensure that 20% of their production
teams are diverse.