So – How to Find that Job in Telly

Behind the Scenes of Daytime Telly

There are several routes into television but here are two of the most common: one is through the studio route.  Going from runner on a studio floor or on location, moving up to assisting the director, floor manager etc and then possibly into directing.  The other (most normal route in shows like ‘This Morning’) is from runner to researcher and then onto AP.  Assistant Producers on This Morning sometimes get to go out on shoots and learn how to direct from there.

To get a job as a researcher you need to show that you can conduct interviews over the phone, write a report on a subject or interviewee, including celebrities, look after guests who may be nervous, excited, angry or just plain rude when they come onto the show and many other things besides!  Real research is all about finding information, digesting the most important bits and then writing out in the form of a ‘brief’ – so called because the presenters don’t have time to read too much information.  They need the researcher to point out the most important bits and help them decide which direction an interview should go in.  It is a much like researching for a major essay or project and writing it up – so if you’ve done that as part of your education it will help.

In order to become a good director you need the opportunity to go out on shoots and to spend time in an edit, putting a show together.  Directing is not all about being in the gallery of a live show or on location but also about telling a story on tape in the edit suite (where you cut the films together).  Story telling is what television is all about so journalism is a good route in.

Cable and satellite channels are good places to start because they are on a low budget and expect people to do lots of different things – this gives you an opportunity to learn more about different aspects of the job.

If you manage to secure a work experience placement then it is worth making note of the following:


– is an ideal opportunity.  Make the most of it wherever you get can get it.

  • When applying, make it clear you know the show you are applying to.  Make sure you watch it!  Emphasise your interests and any jobs/placements that are relevant in any media – ie radio, print, etc.
  • Develop your social skills because getting on with people is crucial but most importantly genuine passion for the job or the show you are associated with will show, and that will be appreciated
  • Ask people about their jobs – learn about the job from as many different perspectives as you can.  People love talking about themselves but choose your moment!  Don’t start quizzing them if they are busy or stressed out.
  • Don’t claim to know it all until you are sure you do!
  • Make yourself indispensable.  The more people come to rely on you, the better chance of keeping hold of a job.
  • Make other peoples’ lives easier.  Anticipate what needs to be done and do it for them or volunteer your services.  Look for solutions rather than bring problems.
  • Make the most of the job you are in – nothing worse than someone who is a runner or researcher who is constantly distracted by their desire to be a presenter or something else.
  • Know your audience.  Make an effort to meet the people who watch the shows you are interested in.  Read their letters and emails if you have access to them.


You may need to write to a lot of places and get a lot of rejections before you get what you want so be prepared to work at it. Most television companies have their own websites so find them, explore them, find a relevant email address and write to them.   When writing explain who you are, what you want to do and what skills you can bring to the job. (There is a list of links to production companies to get you started on the Useful Links page on this website:

Presumably you have already sorted out your CV, if not there is plenty of advice on the internet.  Without work experience your CV is basically giving details of your education but also your interests, especially those that are related to the place you want to work in.  Your knowledge of even a niche subject area would well be relevant to the subject of a programme they are producing or developing. If you’ve been involved in any creative projects at college or school include them.

Be passionate in your application and demonstrate your enthusiasm for new ideas, preferably with examples of your own ideas. If you’ve been making your own films, or writing your own blog then let them know. It all points to your ability to communicate.

Who you know is invariably more useful than what you know. If you have any connections in the media world, use them!  Don’t be shy. Networking is an art and no doubt a subject we will explore further in this blog.

© Siubhan Richmond March 2011


  • Saul Fearnley says:

    If you ARE lucky enough to get a work experience placement, then be appreciative! So many people come in for work ex and just act like they’re above it and couldn’t care less. Be interested, be inquisitive, be impressive, and the production team will remember you. Promise.

    • Well said, Saul. Too many runners and work experience don’t realise that getting on with other members of the team is crucial – they are the ones that may suggest you for a job on another production.

  • Runners wanted for ITV’s Dancing on Ice « So You Want to Work in Television? says:

    […] It’s not me that needs the runner but the production of Dancing on Ice at ITV. Ideally they want people who have some work experience in television. You need to visit the job site and check whether it’s suitable for you. And read this first: . […]

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