Tuesday, 1 July 2014


After over a year of non posting I have decided to come back with full force...that's it, I'm back and I'm here to stay! There are a few reasons for my absence, mainly because I've been having domain issues (hence the reason why I'm back to my old free blogspot page) and I've pretty much been working flat out since last summer so it seems like I've finally reached the destination of Tellyland and therefore thought it might sound big headed of me if I were to carry on with my blog.
However, I've had many requests for me to start blogging again so here I am blogging away once more. So what have I been doing with myself for a whole year? Apart from being Julia Bradbury's stand in for the rehearsals of Long Live Britain (I got to wear a badge with "Julia" written on it and everything which was fine until I bumped into the real Julia Bradbury in the toilets and tried backing out of the door so she wouldn't notice I was her impostor) and missing the whole of the glorious summer of 2013 because I was working night shifts for Beauty School Cop Outs, I have mainly been living the dream working for CBeebies Presentation or to put it in English that any normal person would understand, living it large in the CBeebies House with Cerrie Burnell, Cat Sandion, Alex Winters and Andy Day making the links inbetween CBeebies programmes and getting glitter all over my face due to handling many many birthday cards. 

I will be blogging in more detail about all of this and more very soon but I'm dashing off to Sheffield in a couple of hours to work at the Children's Media Conference for the rest of the week so my backlog of stories will have to wait until I get back.  

So until then, TTFN xxx

Friday, 17 May 2013

Bunting and Shopping Trolleys and a Bit of Hacker Time

First of all I'd like to say sorry for neglecting this blog of late. It has been fairly quiet on the telly job front recently and I have been busy temping my way through life by mainly manically grinning at people as they walk past my reception desk in a very scary fashion. However I have set up another blog in my absence about all the crafty things I make in my spare time so if there are other prolonged periods of inactivity on here I'll usually be posting pretty pictures on there. Here's the link if you're interested: The McPoodle Blog

Last week was a bit more eventful however. On Bank Holiday Monday I was making bunting and colouring in fruit with a load of kids and the BBC Outreach team at a charity event in aid of The Christie. It was a very hot sunny day (remember those) with good music and more importantly good bunting...I like bunting a lot, you may have noticed.

On Wednesday I was helping out at an event at MediaCity called Made in Studio where a whole host of celebrities and producers and other important people of the TV world sat in a panel in front of an audience of even more important people of the TV world and discussed pressing issues regarding studio based television. I got to stand in the green room with Richard Osman which was quite an exciting thing for me...I do love a bit of Pointless and it turns out that he is as tall as he claims to be! Then I got a wee bit tipsy with Sam and Mark at the after party and regaled them with the story about the time when I was on the same series of Pop Idol as them (I really should stop doing that, it was a whole decade ago now and I need to move on with my life already).

Then on Thursday and Friday I got to make props for the CBBC show: Hacker Time and generally get excited about working on a show with the coolest puppet on CBBC since Edd the Duck. I also got to traipse around Manchester City Centre with a huge long shopping list and one of these...

Yes, that is a very sexy granny shopping trolley pictured above. The photo was taken by the checkout in ALDI as I was waiting to buy a pair of highly attractive granny slippers...working for CBBC makes you the height of cool don't you know! I also wandered back down to the studio on Sunday to see some of it being filmed at the meet the main dog himself. Here is a photo of him taking a quick power nap during the lunch break.

And so concludes my brief round up of last week. This week I have mainly been sending out a million job applications and getting annoyed at my internet when it crashes every five minutes. Ho hum.

Monday, 18 March 2013

I Now Work for the Beeb Don't You Know

...well I say that but in reality I only worked for them for two days a couple of weeks ago. It's not really anything to write home about when you look at it like that but it is one massive break through for me and considering that working for the BBC and especially in Children's is something that has always been extremely high on my career wishlist ever since my work experience placement on the CBBC show Do Something Different way back in 2007, I feel that this particular baby step needs all the enthusiastic clapping and the "who's a clever girl" comments I can get. I now have a fully authentic BBC Casual Staff Number of my very own which is massively exciting and hopefully it's going to lead to much more work with them in the future.

I was the Art Department Runner for a CBBC show called Who Let the Dogs Out? which is a really lovely little show where children teach their dogs how to do tricks and yes, I have had that song by The Baha Men stuck in my head ever since I worked on the programme. I was helping the rest of the Art Department (three highly amusing Scottish men) transform a beautiful but very dusty Victorian bath house into the most amazing dog agility course I've ever seen...it even had a trampoline! Much heavy lifting and prop assembly and sticking my fingers together with masking tape and using industrial strength white tac to stick things to the walls and hoovering and dusting later (ironic really seeing as it was International Women's Day at the time and I was the one wielding the duster!) we had a really stunning setting for the initial dog try-outs. The next day the rest of the crew came on board, filming began and there were lots of little doggies everywhere for me to make friends with. It was all a very exciting experience and even better in hindsight when I found out a week later I had just missed the day when all the dogs started weeing on the carpet which I would have found very amusing if I was there at the time except for the fact that I would have had to clean it up. Still it could have been worse I guess...

I learned so much from this job and not just the fact that I really miss having a dog in my life. This is not the first time I've worked within the Art Department of a show but it is the first time I've worked in an interior setting where we've had to dress everything from scratch. Normally I'm outside digging trenches in fields, planting flowers, lugging hay bales around and doing other crazy things whilst the rain pours down but this is the first time I've been involved in dressing sets with graphics and it was a new and exciting experience for me. It was also very nice to work with people who have much more experience that I have (the Production Designer has also worked on Waybuloo and MI High amongst many other things...I was slightly in awe) and it was good to be shown the ropes by someone who has been in the industry for many years.

The entire crew were just a bunch of really lovely people who made me feel so welcome and it reminded me why I love working in Children's TV in the first place. It was just a wonderful experience and I'm itching to work on more kiddie's shows now. Bring it!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

It's P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-Pancake Day

Pancake day is without exception the best day in our calendar. It is the only day of the year where it is perfectly acceptable to throw food all over the kitchen and eat so many pancakes until eventually all our red blood cells get replaced with lemony sugary goodness that courses through our veins and makes us truly happy inside and out.

There is also the added joy of having the excuse to sing the p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake day song to everybody all day long and then go home to watch the entire collection of Maid Marian and her Merry Men although unfortunately this second option rather depends on the mood of you housemates/friends who you've invited around to your humble abode for your pancake feast. Some people, it turns out, do not understand the pure genius of this programme and if you do find yourself in the situation where your guests don't appreciate being forced to watch back to back episodes of  Tony Robinson being awesome don't feel bad when you have to strike them off the list for next years pancake party.

If you are planning a pancake feast and don't know how to make pancakes here is a link to some Newsround presenters guiding you through it because Blue Peter stopped fulfilling that side of their public service remit years ago...it's sad I know.

So be sure to eat soooooooo many pancakes tonight until you eventually explode and after that has happened, why not beat off the sugar come down by lying on the sofa and watch some classic children's television...it is the only way to celebrate Shrove Tuesday after all.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Chasing Pavements (With Bear Traps and Potholes at Every Corner)

This blog was meant to document my highs and lows of working in this industry. So far all my entries have been very positive so I think it's only fair to restore the balance out a bit. It's never nice to start a new year on a negative but this is the first winter where I've been searching for work in this industry and it actually really sucks. Obviously I've heard all the horror stories about job opportunities shrivelling up and dropping off the trees just to get shat on by passing dogs but it's horrible and mainly really boring when you're not working for a prolonged period of time and have no money to go out and do anything else to relieve the boredom.

My Dad isn't helping with his weekly phone calls asking if I've found any work yet and his tone of pity oosing down the phone at me when I know  all he's thinking is "when are you going to snap out of this pipe dream and find a proper job, one that pays you real money and gives you some sort of financial security? You can then save up for a house and pay into a pension scheme and get a dog and nobody will think any less of you for failing all your hopes and dreams because this is the real adult world where we all just bumble along and count down the days until we can retire and then play golf every day until you die...just think of that!" Whilst the house and the dog do sound appealing and it would be nice to have a pension scheme on the go (I am actually working on that one) the rest of it however sounds as boring in my mind as it does written down here.

I also don't think Les Mis coming out at the cinema when it did helped because it has just reaffirmed that the only way out of my current financial situation is by selling may hair and going on the game! nb. I'm not actually going to do that and in any case I don't have enough money to get my hair cut at the moment.

I was actually still very upbeat about immediate future prospects until a couple of days ago. Christmas with the family was lovely, Neighbours returned to my television screen after its month long Christmas break (it's always a difficult time of year for me) and mid way through January I started getting phone calls from potential employers who had been given my CV from HR (these are jobs that I didn't even specifically apply for) so it was all looking good. It felt like the long hard winter was finally over and and the grass was peeking up through the snow saying "eat me Bambi". All the deer were grazing happily, lulled into a false sense of thinking everything's going to be alright now that we've survived the snow before realising that some evil bastard is lurking in a bush waiting to shoot Bambi's mother. But then, like in Bambi, after his mother gets shot and the poor little fawn is left to fend for himself, it snows a hell of a lot more and it's bleaker than ever (look out the window right now). And yes I am comparing my life to a Disney film. It's not the first time I've done this and it certainly won't be the last.

So anyway, at one point I had three different jobs pencilled in for February, two of which phoned me out of the blue and the other one had been pushed back a month whilst they were waiting for dates to be confirmed before they let me know my start date. We had lots of email correspondence going on and I was lead to believe that I was the person they had whittled it down to. I also had another phone call last week from a production up in Leeds, their runner was moving on and they asked me if I'd completed the health and safety course (yes) and where I was based (oh our previous runner was from Manchester too and he went down during the weekends and he stayed in the hotel with the rest of the crew during the week) and all in all I had nothing but positive vibes from it. Then the guy phoned me again on the same day to ask the same questions (he hadn't made a note of some of my answers) and he told me that he'd get back to me by the end of the day.....that was last Wednesday and he hasn't been in contact since so reading between the lines I'm assuming I didn't get the job.

Now I understand that people are very busy and that they don't always have time to get in contact with everyone but seeing as I didn't even apply for the job and he made the first move and contacted me twice in one day I'm sure that he could have made time to quickly ring the people he'd phoned out of the blue and got excited at the prospect of a month's solid work who had probably be sitting by their phones all day in anticipation waiting for his call, even if it is just to say "sorry, we've given the job to someone else". I'm a big girl now, I can handle rejection and in any case, it's the polite thing to do surely?

Last night I found a relisting of the job I thought I had in the bag and was just waiting for them to get back to me with dates. It turns out they had sorted out the dates but didn't bother getting in touch with me. Instead I had to find via the comments box below the posting that the position had now been filled (again thanks for letting me know or getting in contact with me saying these are the dates, are you still available?)

So now I'm down to my last option. Granted that the job I'm still waiting to hear back from has always been the one I've been most excited about (I'm not just saying that because the other jobs fell through) and it's a lot closer to home than the others. Now I'm started to panic because I haven't heard from them since mid January and they start shooting on the 18th February and all I have is a first name and no contact number for the guy who phoned me initially (his number was withheld)...so not a great start! I don't want to find out in a few weeks that they are fully crewed up but most of all I just want to know either way so that if they have already filled the position I can then get onto my temping agency to find some other work to be getting on with before I get into the situation where I can't afford to pay my rent and I've completely maxed out my overdraft and other stuff that people in the real world have to worry about.

So if any of you reading this are in the habit of phoning people up with potential job offers and then saying that you'll be in touch at a later date once the time/date/venue/number of runners needed etc has been confirmed and then don't follow it up EVER, even if it's just to say "sorry we've got someone else", please spare a thought for the poor people who are eagerly awaiting your promised call that never happens. As Captain James Hook once said in the greatest Spielberg film of all time....bad form Peter!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

In Answer to Your Question...

I must admit to using Google Analytics quite a bit, mainly so I can try to guess who might have been sneaking a peek at my blog. Google Analytics provides fairly detailed stats that can keep you amused for hours and one of my favourite things to find out is how people have landed on my site. Sometimes people accidentally end up on here after trawling through Google* searches and for that I'm truly sorry. This post is dedicated to all of you who don't really care about who I am or what I do and who just happened to stumble across my blog one day expecting to find something completely different. As it is the season of good will I shall try to answer all the questions that you couldn't find answers to the first time you came here.

Around The World With Willy Fog
The most hits I've had from Google referrals surprisingly were from people who wanted to know about Willy Fog, that dashing gentleman/lion who is obsessed with good time keeping. I do love the cartoon very much although I must admit my love for it did waiver slightly after I decided to watch the complete box set in one sitting to mark National Willy Fog day this year (28th April if you were wondering). There were 26 episodes in total and they only had three or four different songs that they kept using again and again for the whole series. 

Someone from Andover got to my blog after trying to find out who the cat was in Willy Fog. Her name was Princess Romy and Mr Fog rescued her from some weird tribe in India who were going to burn her because she was married to a prince who then died and therefore after the husband is dead what good is a wife? Surely it would be more humane to just end her suffering once and for all...right? So Willy Fog and his daring companions rescue her from a burning tower and then take her on the rest of their trip and back to London where they eventually get it on and get married. I love a happy ending me. Of course there is another cat in Willy Fog, his name is Rigodon and he is Willy Fog's French butler and actually he was the one who saved Princess Romy from being burned alive. He swung to her on a vine and it was really quite heroic. 

Somebody from London came onto my blog expecting to find information on National Willy Day. Do we even have one of those??? It all seems rather sexist to me. Surely if we do have a National Willy Day it would only be right to have a National Vagina Day as well to even it out. Anyway according to a Facebook group after a five minute Google search (even though I have a degree in Journalism I like to do things the Phillip Schofield way) I have found out that it's on the 14th May if you were wondering. 

Heston's Giant Tea Pot
Another popular topic of searching that brought people to my blog was Heston Blumenthal's big tea break. I worked on this particular episode of Heston's Fantastical Foods and unsurprisingly I got a lot of hits about this after the episode aired on Channel 4 in November. 

Keywords such as "Heston's giant kettle" (there was no kettle, it was a tea pot), "where did heston film hos big tea break" (I don't know but I do know that he filmed his giant tea break in the Lancashire town of Darwen) and "Heston Bloomingdale great brittish cuppa" (his surname is Blumenthal) all brought people to this site. There was also someone who was hoping to find out more about "heston cheating on the giant tea". I can confirm that there was no cheating involved. There was a giant tea pot, there was a giant tea bag with tea leaves (I stitched up that thing with my own hand after all) and the tea bag went in the tea pot and created tea as we know it. There was a giant tea cup and giant biscuits and we dunked the biscuits into the tea cup and everybody stood around drinking tea and eating biscuits. There was no clever camera trickery involved, sorry to disappoint. 

This photo was taken and
Instagramed by Barney
Harwood himself
Blue Peter 
I had two different people from two separate but connected searches come on here, one from the words "Barney Harwood feet" and the other from "Helen Skelton feet". Now I wasn't aware that foot fetishists took a particular shining to Blue Peter presenter's feet but I was slightly creeped out by this new revelation. As it turns out I was working on the Blue Peter's Christmas Special yesterday evening and I can confirm however that both presenters do have have feet which is a relief. 

I also had someone descend on here after a Google search of "Blue Peter ship tattoo". Yes I have one and if you wanted one for yourself I suggest you make sure it looks like the image above.

Barney (the old English Sheepdog) 
I may have mentioned my favourite cartoon when I was three years old in a post about children's theme tunes and I have had a few hits from like minded people. I loved this show so much when I was little that I named my dog after it. He was the bestest most awesome dog ever, even more so than the dog he was named after. Anyway I digress, someone came on here looking for the theme tune (look below) and another person wanted to know who wrote the series...his name was Peter Bonnici.

Test Card
I like my business cards with the test card on them. I think it's a good look for me. The other day someone typed in "Fiona TV testcard image" and I just wanted to say hi, yes, that's me. What can I do for you? I also had someone come on after typing into Google "I know testcard F girl"...good for you, but why are you telling Google this?

Other internet surfers that got washed up on my shore included someone who searched "University of Chester dissertation title and mail CV". I'm not really sure what they were hoping to find but I did go to The University of Chester, my dissertation title was "News Broadcasting for Children: a study into children’s perceptions of television news with particular reference to CBBC’s Newsround" and I probably had the most fun researching for it than anybody else who ever wrote a dissertation. My CV can be found by using the links at the top of the page and I'm not going to divulge my home address. 

I also had someone searching for "left handed girl shooting". Yes I am left handed and yes I am a girl but I've never shot a person or anything else for that matter apart from flies with those fly gun things that don't work anyway. Is this person implying that hypothetically because I'm left handed or because I'm a girl that might somehow make me incapable or at least hinder my ability to shoot, because I take great objection to that for all of left handed womankind...although personally it's probably true. I tried archery whilst on Guide camp once and I wasn't very good at shooting straight. I had more luck at hitting my target when I was aiming for the one next to it. 

So concludes my Q and A round up for the year and I sincerely hope it clears up a few things. Have a Merry Christmas and I'll be back writing more insightful rubbish about my career in the new year. 

* In the interest of fairness and unbias I should point out that there was one person who used Yahoo's search engine before accidentally ending up reading my blog.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Round Robin 2012

Robin and Peagreen couldn't afford a Christmas tree this year so they had to make do with decorating the spider plant instead. 

It's a long running tradition on my mum's side of the family to include a neatly typed round up of the year that comes nicely folded inside Christmas cards and boasts about various achievements and holidays distant relatives have been on in the past 12 months. Every year I sit down to read what the family have been up to and every year I feel ashamed that I have no worthy achievements to smuggly declare to the rest of the world. The last time I went abroad was three years ago, I finished uni in 2008 and stayed in my uni town of Chester temping in mind numbing office jobs that refused to give me permanent employment and because of that I was slowly losing the will to live. All in all, my life was nothing to brag about and although I was constantly sending off job applications left right and centre it wasn't getting me anywhere and I was afraid that I would eventually lose sight of my dream and be one of those people that just give up trying and eventually become quite content moaning about how shit my life was without actually doing anything to change it.

This year has slightly more eventful however. Since moving to Salford at the very end of last year to pursue a career in the television industry, something that I've always wanted but had no realistic idea of how to go about obtaining one, I've had an exciting 12 months of personal achievements and I feel like I should shout them from the rooftops. So here it is, my round robin of 2012:

I was very excited to get a work experience placement at Red Production Company. I was there for two weeks and it was awesome, I learned so much about how a well established indie company works from a production point of view and I managed to get a day of floor running for a series of shorts they were shooting for BBC Learning. Plus, everyone who I worked with were all fantastic and lovely people. Red are based in Granada Studios and it was mind boggling to think that these amazing places (MediaCity too), which were like fairytale castles in the sky before I moved to Manchester, were now within walking distance from my little flat and have now become real places to me.

I started this blog because I felt bad about lying on my BBC Production Talent Pool application that I had a blog of this nature when I didn't. Two days after setting up Destination Telly Land I got the rejection email from the BBC but this blog is still going strong which surprises me more than anything from the whole of the year. I was always terrible at keeping a diary as a teenager. I'd have three or four day spats of half heartedly pouring my heart and soul out onto paper but only writing things that I thought I'd find funny or poignant in years to come (I found one of my diaries a few months ago and it hasn't stood the test of time) and then not bother for the next six months. However I've found that blogging about my career struggles and achievements has been rather enjoyable and therapeutic and a good source of bed time reading before an interview.

I worked as a street caster for Sing Date (it's on Sky Living) which involved me loitering outside the reject door of The X Factor auditions and persuading people who had just had their hopes and dreams dashed at the first hurdle to come and audition for this show instead...it was good fun even if most of the lads who I spoke to thought I was hitting on them (I obviously had to find out if they were single and looking for lurve before launching into my speech and some of them seemed to not understand that I wasn't on the hunt for a penis for the night). Aside from that it was quite amusing and a minor milestone in my career as it was my first paid job in the industry since moving to Manchester.

After going to a networking evening and getting business card envy I set about creating the best business cards ever. I ditched my cheapskate ways (I was brought up by a Scotsman, it was bound to rub off on me) and decided to invest time, effort and money on rebranding myself and this is what I came up with. Now people introduce me as: "this is Fiona, she has the most awesome business cards!" I also started to work a lot on Dickinson's Real Deal. I love working on that show, all the crew there are like one big happy family and it's just a lovely environment to work in.

I got asked out of the blue to work as a set dresser for a Hollyoaks promo which of course I said yes to. It turned out to be the most exciting and brilliant two days ever and would be, as Zac Effron and Vanessa Hudgens once sang, the start of something new. I had never worked in the art department before and although I have always been a rather crafty person,  it has never been something I had thought about as a career until then. I spent two days running about in a wood, planting fake bluebells and poppies and putting up tents, flags and bunting everywhere. It was amazing and I had some great feedback from the rest of the art department. On top of that I had to register myself as self employed and create an invoice and everything which was highly exciting in itself and a little bit terrifying. It signified the start of a some sort of adult career, with responsibilities and hopes for the future...not just some mad pipe dream. Seven months later I still get excited about sending invoices to people.

In June I trundled down south to work at Whipsnade Zoo to work with the lovely guys at SGA Productions. They specialise in event management and they put on some amazing fantastical feats of wonder. I was working with them on a Shaun the Sheep related sports day type event that included silly costumes, sack races, sheep hoppers (they're like space hoppers but woolly), welly wangling, cuddly cabbages and giant sheep that you had to roll around an obstacle course. Plus I got to dance around to S Club 7 five times a day wearing a very sexy sheep hat with dangly ears. What's there not to love?

This was a hella exciting month for me. First up I went to Sheffield to volunteer at The Children's Media Conference. It was a fun packed four days of meeting people who were just as excited about children's television as I was, networking with people who otherwise would be completely unobtainable to speak to in the real world and much partying. I had the responsibility of ensuring everything ran smoothly in one of the show rooms, there were some really important speakers and a really tight schedule to work to. It was slightly daunting to start with but after the first session (there were nine altogether) I bloody loved it.

After that I went down to Bournemouth with the BBC Learning team to help out on Blue Peter's Big Olympic Tour...as in BLUE PETER...as in that blue ship thing I've got tattooed on my back. When I got that call I was literally over the moon. Blue Peter! Although it was for just one day and it was voluntary I didn't care, it is Blue Peter after all. It also turns out that the BBC Learning team are a huge bag of fun and it was a pleasure to work with them and experience what they do.

The other exciting thing I was involved in during July was Heston's Fantastical Food. I was there for the giant tea party in Darwen and I actually spent many hours the day before shooting sewing up a giant tea bag. It was all very exciting.

During August there were lots of Cbeebies and CBBC events to get involved with at MediaCity. From Justin's House Party on the Piazza to Sam and Mark's Sports Day (I may have mentioned to their face that I was on Pop Idol the same year as them singing songs from the Rocky Horror Show in my underwear). By far the best event that went on during the summer months was the Sing-a-long Cbeebies and the highlight of that has to be Rastamouse singing a song about how to pick your nose correctly! It was pretty cool.

I also got to work with the guys at SGA again for a couple of summer festivals this time a bit closer to home which was lovely.

September and October
September and October was mainly filled with running around in Herefordshire set designing, dressing, prop buying and having all of my cigarettes pinched by the 1st AD for a feature film called Here & Now. Initially I was taken on as a set dresser but during the recce I soon discovered I was to be a one man band art department and had two weeks to source and obtain the entire props list before 3 weeks of solid filming..no pressure then! It was crazy, manic, exhausting and a rather steep learning curve for someone who hadn't worked in the art department for very long but it was such good fun (despite the extreme weather), which was helped by the fact that the rest of the crew were absolutely amazing guys to work with.

In November I got my first ever onscreen TV credit. My little name scrolled up my television screen after Heston's Fantastical Foods and it was all rather exciting. I also signed up to BECTU, the trade union for the media and entertainment industries. Both of these things made me feel like I'm on my way to a real career or something. I also won an £800 bursary for some kind of training of my choice from a tombola which was quite exciting. I'm on the look out for some really good courses in set design or prop making so if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear about them.

I've just finished working as an audience manager for Applause Store down at MediaCity for a new quiz show called Britain's Brightest. It was a nice little side earner and it was good to experience another aspect of studio programme making.

All in all, I think I've had a fairly successful first year in Manchester, much more so than if I had stayed in Chester at any rate. I've met so many fantastic people along the way and have enjoyed and benefited from every part of my journey so far. Thanks to everyone who I've worked with and spoken to and had a couple of beverages with and to all those who have given me advice. It's been a blast so far and I'm very excited to find out what 2013 has in store.