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From Podium Dancer to TV Presenter: A ‘Gay Wedding’ Planner’s Story

Anthony Miller

 

So how did Anthony Miller go from podium dancer to TV presenter and expert?

The hard way.

Anthony’s story is a great example of how hard and unpredictable TV work can be but also an entertaining account of how sheer perseverance can sometimes get results. He’s tried it all – presenting, TV expert, developing and pitching TV programme ideas.

Over to Anthony, a self-professed TV presenting junkie!

 

Model & Podium Dancer

So I left school armed with a modelling contract and a desire to run the world but somehow managed to forget to pick up any sort of formal qualifications – not even one GCSE to my name this will be because I chose not to sit any exams, hey why would I bother I was a model and was going to earn fortunes!…

Oh how naive was I? After completing my model training with Northern Ireland School of Modelling it wasn’t long before I realised this modelling malarkey didn’t carry the hefty salary I had dreamed it would, so I had to get creative and had very little time to do so how could I make money??

Before long I was working as a podium dancer at raves for DJ’s all over the country in the evenings, hot pants and glow sticks being my only required uniform. By day I could be found working as a promotion model for PEPSI, Virgin, MBNA and a whole load of other brands and every now and again I could be found strutting my stuff down a catwalk – but there was still a void something that wasn’t quite fulfilling what could it be??? I was soon to find out.

The owner of the agency I was working with had started training me in the business side of things, I was training models, directing fashion shows, managing shoots etc a great way of earning extra cash and feeling a bit important but then enlightenment happened, the strike of lightning or the rush of knowledge as the purpose of my life was revealed.

We had been contacted by a producer making a TV show for BBC1 and RTE in Ireland and he wanted to follow us on a photo shoot we were planning in Scotland. From the first meeting to discuss itineraries the excitement was building within me like lava I was going to be on the telly!! WOW!

 

My First Date as a TV Star

The first day of filming the camera crew were following me, the agency limo (yes this is real!!) picked me up at my Dad’s house but before I had left the house the production had begun, camera man on the front lawn and producer in the kitchen briefing me on how we were going to shoot the angles, piece to camera etc I felt like I had died and gone to heaven I was in my element!! As I came out of the house all of the neighbours had gathered at the bottom of the driveway, I later heard that the word on the street was I had won the lottery.

As we embarked on our journey my dedicated cameraman joined me in the back of the limo and we collected the rest of team. We all boarded a P&O Ferry to Scotland to the great amusement of bystanders, none of whom had a clue who we were but all practically breaking their own necks for a nosey. I guess in a kind of emperor’s new clothes kind of way nobody dared ask who we were in fear of looking not in the know.

For the next few days I was followed round the clock by my cameraman, drinking at the bar, styling models, instructing the style team, dealing with location staff etc. I can honestly say I have never ever felt better than those few days filming and so the addiction settled in right there and then. I became a red light junky (the buzz of the red light on the front of the camera, not a hooker).

It seemed like centuries had passed before the show was edited and screened. I remember the night it aired we all got together and giggled and flushed with embarrassment, shouted at the screen, patted each other on the back and smiled from ear to ear in the knowledge that everyone we knew, and loads of people we had never met, were settling down on the sofa to watch our antics. Coming from Northern Ireland it doesn’t take a lot to make the papers and to be considered a celebrity and we were plastered all over the front page of the Belfast Telegraph our main newspaper …

A star was born.

 

The Crash

Nobody ever took me to the side and told me about the cold turkey feeling when the hype dies down, the show is no longer airing and everybody has forgotten how important you have convinced yourself you are.

Like a drug addict I was craving the lights and the hustle and bustle of TV land. I would watch presenters and reality shows with great jealousy – how come these people were on the telly and I wasn’t?

Presenters with speech impediments, others who seemed boring or talentless of course all these people were actually hugely talented but I was like a furious ex watching a partner laugh with a new love. How could I get my fix? When would I return to the screen? I did what everybody with a dream does; I packed up my entire world (into two suitcases) and moved to the big smoke – the bright lights of London. I worked every job imaginable and somehow ended up training to be a licensee of bars and clubs. We would often have celebrity clientele coming in to sip on champagne and cocktails and I practically prostituted myself to get into their company plying them with free drinks and stroking their egos.

 

And Up Again!

Then the unthinkable happened Parliament passed a bill allowing Gay couples to have civil partnerships. The main ‘Gay wedding planning company’ was based in the town I was living in and off I went taking up the job as a sales exec for their website and exhibition, head of fashion and style for their articles and fashion shows and I was a wedding planner. I was lucky enough to be organising one of the first Gay weddings in London and the world’s news joined me on the day. I had cameras and journalists beaming my work around every corner of the globe, interviews and photos galore, the blood pumped around my body – at last I had got my hit.

In the following months we had practically every production company in London contacting us – myself and my business and TV partner, Richard Jones (the Dick in our Ant & Dick!) – wanting to develop ideas for formats, ob docs, etc. but none were to be commissioned. It seemed weddings weren’t of interest and civil partnerships were far too niche.

Selling TV Ideas

Gutted is not the word – the downer began again, why was this happening? How could I be so in demand one minute then of no interest at all the next??

But this time I had a bit more knowledge of how it all worked, I knew I could write my own ideas and submit them to production companies who would work with me developing ideas and present them to commissioners. Like a crazed composer I set myself to work thinking up ideas from the sublime to the ridiculous, frantically emailing (border line stalking) every development producer I could sniff out.

Time and time again I would get so close, a commissioner would express an interest, we would be through to the next round of commissioning only to fall at the last hurdle and time and time again I would go back to the drawing board.

My next TV appearance was with Bravo. I was to be a Gay dating expert (it helped I was now working for an online dating agency) and cameras followed me again whilst I staged a live dating event in a nightclub in Birmingham.

Now for anyone reading who wants to work in television I highly recommend that at least once in your career you turn up at a club with a camera crew. For one night only I felt like Madonna, everybody in that club was eating out of the palm of my hand and let me tell you there is not many things or drugs that can match that buzz!!

Determined not to disappear into obscurity again I was like a blood hound hunting out my next TV appearance and by sheer luck Wedding TV were advertising on Broadcast for new producers, a light bulb appeared above my head… if they were looking for a producer then they were making new shows. I got in touch immediately and in what seemed like minutes I was in front of one of the companies directors discussing my new job, I was to be the wedding planner on a 6 part series planning a civil partnership for a lovely lesbian couple with no budget.

 

Anthony Miller & Richard Jones

Anthony Miller & Richard Jones

Becoming a TV Expert

This show was a birth of my now permanent career as a wedding expert. Being a part of the show, which might I add has been sold throughout Europe, America and Canada, propelled me to the top of my field in the wedding industry. I was appearing at national events as a celebrity expert, writing for magazines, guesting on chat shows and news items advising the nation on how they should plan their big day.

I am now living back in Northern Ireland and due to a lack of offers have decided to Produce, direct and present my own kind of make over show for wedding TV. It is a ten part series with a focus on fixing the inside as well as the outside and whilst I am absolutely petrified every day when I realise the enormity of what I am doing, I am having an absolute ball!!

So here I am living the dream and being true to the cause, I am still skint, still insecure and still chasing the next big thing but I can honestly say like a fish needs water or a kite needs wind – I need to work in television.

 

Thank you, Anthony. You can find more about Anthony and his business on these web sites:

WWW.ANTANDDICK.COM 

WWW.NIBRIDALMODELSEARCH.CO.UK

WWW.CIVILPARTNERSHIPSINIRELAND.COM

6 comments

  • Margaret Ann: (Milveurna) says:

    I am proud to be one of Anthony’s friends. O’ by the way Dick in Ant&Dick. Is my son Richard.
    They are great friends and we laugh uproariously for hours. (Sober) !! Well just one or two xx

    • Shu says:

      They are fabulous guys and this I know without even meeting them! You must be a very proud mum! And it’s great to see people putting real hard graft into realising their dreams.

  • Mandy Baxter says:

    What a fantastic read of your journey Ant!!! Love you to bits you are a star and I wish you all the luck in the world in your new venture xxxxx
    Love and hugs
    Mandy xxx

  • Denise says:

    I love this story:) ur a wee star xx

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