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Sex, Lies and Production Teams

Mike Tindall & Zara Phillips

Mike Tindall,  rugby-playing husband of Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter, has been in the tabloid press looking overly cosy with a female friend while on tour in New Zealand. On being challenged over his behaviour as a married man, he is alleged to have said ‘”what goes on tour, stays on tour”*.

Now there’s a subject to discuss in relation to working in television. It’s been on my list of things to write about in this blog and Mike has provided a good enough prompt (better know as a ‘peg’ in topical programmes!). I’m willing to bet they don’t cover the subject of close personal and sexual relationships within production teams on your average media course!

“What happens on location, stays on location” is the television or film equivalent to that phrase.

According to a 2011 survey by the job search website CareerBuilder.com, four out of 10 workers say they’ve dated a colleague at some point in their careers. Three in 10 say they married the person they dated at work. So nothing unusual in finding love – or sex – in the office – you spend most of your time there, you meet people with common interests, share highs and lows in your work. I haven’t found research specifically on workplace romances in the television industry but I think we’ll find the incidence is higher than the average. And it’s often going on location that kicks it off.

It is a well-known adage amongst actors who spend much of their working life working away from home. Being on location not only provides more opportunity but the pressure and tension inherent in most productions is heightened when you work on location. You don’t get to go home and kick the cat, or share your frustrations with your spouse, partner or flatmate. You can’t get to your usual gym glass or meet your friends for a moan over a pint. You are stuck on location, probably in some faceless hotel and the only people you know are the rest of the team.

It is human nature to seek excitement, release, comfort from another and being on location can be exciting as well as stressful. Stands to reason that some members of the production team are going to be attracted to each other. More likely there has been an attraction simmering for a while and being away provides the opportunity to tip that attraction over into an affair.

Nothing wrong with that – if you are free, single, honest, realistic and emotionally stable (that probably counts most of us out!). It’s a problem if you are married or partnered up. And sex doesn’t have to be involved to cause problems. Simply being away from home for lengthy periods is going to cause extra strain on your close relationships. The celebrity gossip pages are full of such high profile break ups as Hollywood and local television stars admit that long periods apart or the temptation of a location fling has brought their relationship to an end.  Orlando Bloom and Kate Bosworth were just one of many celebrities couples who blamed too much time apart on their split.

So have fun on location if you can afford to but remember – it’s not the real world. It’s a pressurised, exciting bubble of television production that will eventually come to an end.  Don’t risk what you have in the real world for something that may turn out to have little substance.

And there is so much more to this subject. How should you deal with a colleague who is having an affair with the boss? What happens when your inter-production team romance comes to a sticky end? And never mind romantic relationships – what about friendships?

You are thrown together in an intense working relationship on a television production. You go from being total strangers to friends in a very short space of time. Do you remain friends after the production ends or do you find that those you thought were close suddenly disappear onto the next job and can’t be bothered to keep in touch? Are some people only being nice to you because of what you can do for them? Do you find yourself dropped when you are no longer in a position of influence?

It’s a subject we must return to sometime but my advice? Research says happiness comes from having strong personal relationships. So invest in those relationships. Work is a great place to meet people and make new friends. Make them, nurture them and keep the good ones. Work out the difference between networking and friendship. One is about is keeping touch to share news about jobs and availability, the other is totally different – it’s a close personal relationship involving trust, friendship, loyalty and sharing.

And whatever you do, do NOT try and make a close personal relationship with a television programme.  It is a thing not a person and it won’t be there for you when you are made redundant, your contract end or it’s been taken off air. It happens – I’ve seen it and I’ve seen the devastation it causes when someone leaves a show they have spent many years on, that they have invested more hours and emotion in than they should have.  If you’re lucky you may leave with some good friends, some great experience and some money in the bank. But leave you inevitably will. Take good care of your ‘real’ life, your ‘real’ relationships; television is not your friend, it’s ‘the transmission of dynamic or sometimes static images, generally with accompanying sound, via electric or electromagnetic signals’.

And while we’re talking definitions, for those of you who like to know facts and figures, here’s some background to those sayings:

*“What happens on tour stays on tour” is a phrase that originated in the sporting world agreed to by men who get together and travel away from home on sporting tours. It basically means that all exploits during the tour must be kept strictly confidential, never to be discussed with anyone outside the group

The American ad agency R&R Partners came up with the slogan “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” to promote the city in 2004. The film ‘What Happens in Vegas’ with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher was based on that slogan.

How about that for a bit of superficial research?!!

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2 comments

  • Greg Scott says:

    I don’t have this trouble. For obvious reasons. x

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