Want to work on scripts like Wolfblood? … Here’s how

A new article in tv industry mag Broadcast tells how former BBC trainee Sophie Petzal script edited Wolfblood … Here it is:

As demand for the BBC’s production apprenticeships increases, Anne Morrison of the BBC Academy asks three former trainees how the scheme helped them in their careers

This year, the BBC will hire 250 trainees and apprentices across 22 entry level schemes. The next intake of 18 production trainees is currently being selected from 4,457 applications – a ratio of 247:1. Even before these daunting odds are factored in, the tough economic climate offers fewer opportunities for raw recruits.

Paradoxically, we’ve never had a greater need for new talent. Our industry is one of the UK’s key growth sectors and realising our potential relies on fresh perspectives that only new talent can bring.

However, it’s not as simple as just recruiting the brightest graduates. The proportion of state-educated pupils at leading universities has dropped in the past decade, and tuition fees pushing £27,000 is having an impact on university admissions.

Last year, the BBC hired 37 non-graduate apprentices and that will rise to 80 this year. We’re already seeing great talent blossom as a result. Our most recent trainees have all gone on to secure good jobs in the industry. Here we catch up with some previous apprentices.

Sophie Petzal Former BBC Production trainee has since script-edited CBBC’s Wolfblood

My BBC Production Trainee Scheme whirlwind wound up at the end of February this year. I began with BBC radio drama, moved on to Coast, then worked in CBBC drama for my final two placements – in development and then in production – before staying on through to the end of May as assistant script editor on the second series of CBBC’s RTS Award-winning show Wolfblood.

Before I was even aware of the existence of the BBC trainee schemes, I was spending a socially crippling amount of time writing, making stuff and watching and reading as much as I could get my hands on.  In short, ever since the day I learned that people actually ‘wrote for TV’, that’s all I have wanted to do.

The scheme offered me the opportunity to explore my verve for media in all its manifestations, to experience jobs in vastly different departments, and to truly get to grips with each facet of how this industry works.

While working for CBBC drama, an adult TV drama pilot I wrote in my free time won the Sir Peter Ustinov Scriptwriting Award, issued by the International Emmys in New York.

Following that shock success, CBBC drama kindly offered me the chance to write a short prequel episode for the upcoming second series of Wolfblood.

I leapt at the chance, and it has since been shot on location in Northumberland with the rest of the series, which will air this autumn on CBBC.

Following on from that, and my script editing, I was offered two full half-hour episodes of a brand new series for CBBC drama. That was the end of May, and here I am, just over a month later, ‘freelance’, desk-bound, in the thick of drafts, outlines and research. I couldn’t be more excited.

I spent the better part of two years with the BBC, the first 18 months of which were majestically orchestrated by the BBC Production Trainee Scheme. I began the scheme hoping to refine and condense my aspirations, but to my disbelief, I have simply discovered umpteen more.

These I now have the confidence to pursue, thanks to the scheme’s unending training, support and encouragement. So you have it the scheme to blame for this jumped-up twentysomething with lofty ambitions to write and produce a Bafta Award-winning drama, to be screened on BBC2, Thursdays at 9pm, some time during the next 30 years.

Helena Kidd Former apprentice and now production management assistant, BBC Sport – Football

I had always been interested in sport, having played football and worked in a gym before I came to the BBC. But I never imagined I could get into the media until I saw the BBC Sport Apprenticeship.

As a production management assistant in football, I was surprised at the amount of responsibility I was given. I was looked at in the same way as other members of the team and trusted to work on the live shows.

I’ve had amazing opportunities, from representing the BBC at outside broadcasts to booking all the travel and accommodation for production and talent teams at major events in the safest and cheapest way possible.

It’s all been a huge privilege for me. Now that I’ve completed my apprenticeship, new staff members are asking me how to do it all.

My personal highlights include my first ever shift on Football Focus and working on my first live game – Barnsley vs Leeds. I was amazed at how it all worked, how you got from the work in the office to the studio and then on air. Working on the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year awards was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Dr Smitha Mundasad Switched from medicine to journalism

As a child growing up in Wales, one of my strongest memories was watching Huw Edwards presenting the daily BBC News. I loved seeing other worlds and human lives come to life through his words, and knew I wanted to be involved in this in some way.

But with two parents who were doctors, I was also thrown into amazing meal-time conversations about operating on people’s eyes and helping children recover from devastating psychological harm.

From a young age, I was hooked on the idea of working in both worlds.

I applied for the BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme in 2010, after three years of working in medicine. It was one of the happiest decisions I’ve made, though it was scary to even think about taking a break from the world of medicine that I knew so well.

It was incredible how quickly we were let loose on proper journalism, guided by the talented people I had, until then, only seen in 2D. I remember Alan Little’s writing tutorial on the BBC Academy’s College of Journalism website every time I’m trying to turn a complex scientific idea into something more suited to a general audience.

As the Arab Spring unfolded, I was lucky to have my first experience of BBC News working with the World Online and World Service radio teams.

With training courses from the BBC’s College of Journalism and support from each team, I was rapidly writing news stories about Osama Bin Laden’s death and putting together radio packages on subjects ranging from African fashion to tuberculosis.

We were also given the chance to organise work placements to other BBC departments. For a while, I worked with the Factual and Science documentary team, successfully pitching, with two friends, the original idea for Curious Cat, a children’s science TV show now in its second series.

My final work placement was with the health news team, where I have managed to stay. I have been working as an on-demand health reporter and producer, putting together stories for the web and TV. The icing on the cake will be meeting Huw one day.

BBC Academy – New Apprenticeships


To address the shortfall in broadcast engineers, the BBC has launched a new degree-level Technology Apprenticeship for school-leavers, supported by co-investment from the government’s Employer Ownership Fund and supported by the wider industry and Creative Skillset. Starting this September, the Technology Apprenticeship will take on 100 new apprentices over the next five years.

Production management

Drawing on co-investment from the government’s Employers’ Ownership Fund, the BBC Academy has also launched a new higher-level apprenticeship scheme in production management, aimed at school-leavers who are looking to become production co-ordinators and with a career path to production management.

This qualification, equivalent to a foundation degree, has been developed in conjunction with Creative Skillset after consultation with industry experts from other broadcasters and indies. In September, the BBC will hire its first apprentices on a 15-month, fixed-term contract, offering placements across the industry, with training at the BBC Academy and from education partner Westminster Kingsway College 

From:  http://info.broadcastnow.co.uk/ July 25 2013 .


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