So I ran off a short post on the qualities of a good television presenter and frankly it serves me right – how can you quantify a ‘good’ television presenter in a few paragraphs. It’s so much more complicated than that. So thank you to those who responded. They did it on another forum but I’d love anyone to add comments and tell me what YOU think. That’s what this site is for. Don’t hold back. There are no reprisals for disagreeing or adding your own thoughts.
Greg Scott is a television presenter that I have not had the pleasure of working with but I’ve had his showreel come across my desk. My thought on viewing it was – here’s a good presenter. Greg has that ‘warmth’ I mentioned in the original article on this subject (http://wanttoworkintelevision.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/what-makes-a-good-television-presenter/). He is sharp, funny, appealing and experienced. The shows I was involved in at the time didn’t have a spot for him but he’s one of those faces I keep in my mental ‘file’ for the day I do come across the right programme.
My superficial thoughts fired up Greg and he speaks for many presenters in his passionate message to television executives everywhere. I have not changed a word. Here’s Greg fiery contribution:
GREG SCOTT’S 2,169 WORDS OF FRUSTRATION.
”I am a great television host. Not a presenter – A HOST.
I know I am. I’ve watched me. Not as me, but as somebody else. That bloke I see on the telly, he’s GREAT! Love him! Would love to see him get a big break. But he’s so unlikely to get one, the unlikeliness is immeasurable.
I have worked in TV for 24 years, as a warm-up man and on-screen cheeky face.
My crowning glory? Quizmania. The late night, live phone-in quiz that somehow stumbled on to ITV1 in late 2005 to much hatred from the purists, but the target audience loved it. Not just the target audience, but beyond it too it seems, as when the letters and emails started cascading into Fremantle soon after launch, badly parented nine year olds who were allowed to watch television at 3am, ninety year old insomniacs AND all those in between ADORED the unscripted controlled chaos of the show.
CONTROLLED chaos. One of the hardest things to get right. Chaos is crap. Controlled chaos makes wonderful telly. Not many people can carry it off. I was convinced at the time that it would be my big break to ITV primetime. Yes, it was on between midnight and 5am, but surely, someone at the top would see the funny, random, cooky guy, who, as was so clearly highlighted by the calls coming in to the show, had the audience in the palm of his hand?
Nope. No way, Pedro.
Talking down the lens without a script or autocue CAN be tremendously difficult. But in the right hands it MAKES WONDERFUL TELLY (Sorry for all the caps, but I really want to hammer home some of my points).
I loved working on Quizmania – As much as it is derided and frowned upon nowadays for being one of “those” shows, ignoring the Call TV aspect of it, it was TREMENDOUS fun. I’ve not come across any form of television that is more connective. Other than, perhaps, shopping television (which I have also fronted for a total of four years). I know that shopping TV is also laughed at and is eye rolling material within the industry – But Price Drop TV was and is THE toughest on-screen gig BAR NONE. If someone can be outstanding on there, they can be SENSATIONAL elsewhere.
When you’re on-screen 3+ hours a day, five days a week, with the right presenter, such an incredible bond can be formed. The sort of bond that many forms of non-fictional programming should aspire to achieve. Because in this business, if you connect – YOU WIN. So hey – Telly! Start being less Auto-Cutey reliant, and get some real talent in who can “wing-it”. It’s out there. You’ll be on to a winner, I guarantee.
It’s not impossible. So why isn’t it happening?
There are so many “drabsters” and incapable bods on TV. I’m not going to name names of course, but I, personally, can probably only give you the names of 3 entertainment hosts that I rate. Two of them are part of a double act. The other one will probably retire in the next year. Actually, the old bugger probably won’t….
There are some household names that have recently written “Television Presenter” on their census form. In a good number of cases, this should be preceded with the word “Average”. There are too many people on TV who have “made it” for one of only a couple of reasons – more of which later. They certainly haven’t got there on ability.
Not in my book, anyway.
As for the reality TV “stars” (Christ, I CRINGE every time I hear them described as “stars”), the argument I’ve had back from one exec is, “…but they deliver audiences”.
Two things to that:
1: Because there’s virtually sod all else to watch;
2: Have they TRIED a professional entertainer or host recently?
3: (I know I said two things, but hear me out) Of course there’s going to be a section of society that watch anything when the great media cogs continuously pump the papers full of this televisual effluent.
I need to start getting to my main points.
Shooting from the hip… How does one “make it”?
a) It’s who you know. Self explanatory. But how do you get to know people when everything’s so “closed shop”?
b) Looks. I have a big gap in my teeth, and I’m not an ambassador for Slimming World. That seems to matter to telly bosses, but not to the viewers. Be beautiful, that’s 30% of the battle. Adrian Chiles? Dunno. But in the main.
c) Management. There are two management companies (perhaps three at a push), who seem to be able to give their clients a passport to all the prime gigs. How do you get in with these managers / agents? I ain’t the foggiest. Perhaps something to do with (a)?
d) “BUT YOU’RE NOT A NAME”. Lord, I hate this one. One top cheese once said he’d LOVE to do something with me. But the shareholders would completely refute the idea of using anyone but a “name”. How do you become a “name”? Go back to (a).
e) Nobody LOOKS for talent anymore. It’s simply a case of, “They’ve been filmed cleaning wheelie bins – let’s give them a show”, or, “They are with X or Y management – Let’s give them a show”, or, “We HAVE to give them a show, because it’s part of the deal we struck with their management in securing so-and-so to front our next big project, Celebrity Plums”…
Little story for you.
Two years ago, because of someone I know (SEE?!), I ended up hosting an English version of a hit French gameshow. The production company wanted an English version to tout to the UK, USA, Australia etc. So I went over to Paris, and without a rehearsal, without a walk-through (time restraints), I knocked out a complicated quizfest.
The team had put aside seven hours to allow for stops / starts / deaths – We wrapped in two. The CEO of the company, a man called Francis Vacher (http://www.frenchtv.tv/en/company.php) ran on to the studio floor and was so full of compliments and praise, it was almost embarrassing. But I bloody loved it. Francis asked me what series I was best known for in the UK. When I told him that (at the time) I was the host of an online bingo show for 100 players, he was genuinely taken aback. And whilst it was magnificent to be hearing this from a respected industry figure, it was, at the same time, incredibly frustrating.
It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. But overall, I felt wonderful. I’d hosted a couple of smaller pilots before, but nothing of this magnitude. I’d not only proven to them that I was more than capable of delivering exactly what was asked, but I’d proven it to MYSELF. I’d always believed I could host a big gameshow – But actually – COULD I? Or was I like one of those delusional X Factor loons, whose abilities stop and end with the voices in their head?
I’ve been asked back to host all their English shows since, with another one due soon.
Going back 18 months, one of the English / French shows I hosted was picked up by ITV Studios.
In January this year, ITVS recorded two of their own pilots in one day. One of them with a well-known presenter (who frankly, knowing the format as I do, will have been completely unsuited to it – BUT HE’S A NAME)… the other with someone who is not primarily known for his television work, has never hosted a quiz before – BUT HE’S A NAME.
Both pilots have since gone to ITV commissioners, who have rejected it.
Would it have hurt to have recorded a third pilot with me? It’s a VERY strong format. The show is the star. It didn’t NEED a “name”.
Sorry – I must be wrong – Apparently it did.
Though I say so myself, I am convinced that I could have blown everyone away if I’d been given a stab. I am perfectly aware how big-headed this must sound, but I guarantee, I’d have worked a blinder.
So why wasn’t I given a shot?
NOT ONCE HAVE I BEEN SO MUCH AS SCREEN-TESTED FOR A SERIES IN THE UK. NOT ONCE. WHY?
I’m not a “name”. End of.
Why CAN’T the people in the (don’t) know lose the blinkers, and open their eyes to ALL the talent that IS out there?
This isn’t just about me. In the years I’ve worked in what might be deemed “The Lower End” of the industry, I have worked with some tremendous people. Indeed, if I was an exec, there are at least five people I would put on primetime terrestrial in a heartbeat. Or at least screen-test them.
I believe that there are so few entertainment shows, PRESENTED by the same old few, because there’s no training ground for hosts anymore. Well there is (The shoppers / quizzers etc), but these talented individuals are looked on in the business as soiled. Corny. Cheesey.
So as these talent pools aren’t tapped into, so we get the same faces. But they can only present so many shows each. So rather than take a so-called “risk” with a new face on a structured show that requires a skilled, likeable, capable, welcoming and warm host, we’re being fed more and more, “Jedward Tie Their Laces And Make Tea For An Hour” type cack.
Execs: You don’t even have to travel the country looking. Look at the showreels with an open mind. Look at the “shitty” channels on the EPGs – Because the diamonds in the shite will shine out brightly.
Shareholders – If your execs are “brave” enough to go down this route, have trust in them. The viewers would love to see some new faces. And it’s great news from YOUR perspective, as you can get great hosts for a lower premium.
To finish, back to my personal plight.
I’m 42. I have a family to support. I’ve stuck in the business for as long as I can. At the time of writing, I am preparing to take on my first ever job outside broadcasting. It doesn’t pay that well, but it’s permanent, and as secure as secure can be. Having just spent the last ten months TIRELESSLY searching for work, I’ve now waved the white flag, as circumstances have forced my hand.
The trouble is, I always have believed, and STILL believe that I could walk into Studio 1 at the London Studios next week, and bang out a successful run of a new ITV or BBC entertainment / game show. But ultra-reluctantly, I have to wave the white flag on chasing the dream.
Of course, I live in hope that somehow, someday, a top producer, will see some of my work online, or remember that I WAS really good on that show they used to watch when they came in rat-arsed from the nightclub, and plop an invite to audition for them into my inbox.
Sadly, I think there’s more chance of Joan Bakewell filling the O2 Arena with her Tribute To Lady Gaga.
I so wish that I could agree with all that Siubhan said. Actually, I do – But there was a lot left out. It’s right that by being able to connect, be polished, likeable, warm, friendly, professional were the keys to success. I know there’s not enough room even for all the capable ones, but if what we’re seeing on screen are all meant to be the supposed cream of the crop, then I’m Marie Osmond.
This bit’s for me, and me alone.
I started by saying I’m a great television host. I am. The (vast majority of) people (you can’t please EVERYONE!) who watched Quizmania know I am. The people who watched Price Drop TV know I am. And French TV nobs know I am.
In conclusion – If you’re an exec, TRY ME. Have a look at www.gregscott.tv
I’m not in it for the glory and adoration. I’m in it so I can earn the best possible living to support my family. So come on – Just give me 10 minutes of your time by having a look at my website.
And if you DO like what you see, don’t just think that I’m not worth a stab because the top corridor bods won’t look at me… Bloody fight for me! Fight for what YOU believe! Fight for what TV needs! Fight for your right to party.
If I’ve come across as bitter in any of this, I promise that wasn’t my intention. But I hope that was HAS come across is my frustration.
If it can’t be me on primetime terrestrial telly over the next few years, I’d love to see some of my past colleagues being given a chance. Because by crikey, they deserve it. And so do the viewers”.
Thank you, Greg. That’s telling it how it REALLY is. Anyone want to add their thoughts? Please add your comments to this post. We’d love to hear them.