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Insider’s View

Jude Winstanley – TV Line Producer and founder of The Unit List in the third of our series of views on the state of diversity in the industry.

1. How did you get into the TV industry?

I hadn’t really considered working in any other industry. I think this had something to do with my Dad working in TV as a production accountant. I knew I didn’t want to do the same role but I’d been fortunate enough to visit productions he was working on and knew I wanted to work in an exciting, dynamic, environment.

I wrote a lot of letters asking for work, to all the production companies I could get an address for and eventually started to get hired as Runner on game and quiz shows  before moving up to become a Production Secretary, Coordinator, Manager and now Line Producer.

If anyone ever wondered about it – I’ve introduced my Dad to more jobs than he ever gave me a lead on!

2. What keeps you in this industry – what do you love about it / your job?

I love that this industry gives me the opportunity to learn every day. I choose to work in a range of different genres and this in turn, lets me work with talented and inspiring teams.

I always try to help other people start or progress their own careers. It’s lovely to see juniors I’ve hired, or advised, produce engaging work and become sought after talent in their fields.

3. What has had the biggest impact on UK broadcasting in the last ten years?

I’ve thought long and hard about this and decided that budgets staying the same but not increasing with the economy and affordable pro-sumer technology have created the greatest changes.

4. Are there any milestones or moments you think helped create real change in terms of diversity?

My experience of changes within diversity in the industry, is observed from the frontline of production. There have been many schemes designed to create change and they do – for a small time and a limited amount of individuals it seems. Sadly, there appear to have been few to have made a lasting change to frontline programme making to date. I know it takes a while for change to appear but just looking around production offices, tells me there is a lot of work still to be done at all levels.

I’m really hopeful that Diamond will be the real leap forward in accurate assessment (in fact I wanted to be a UX trainer for the ITF but couldn’t makes the dates work around other commitments) but I think it will really only bring significant change if commitment to investment in training, both for talent and the recruiters, is in place.

For me, back in 2005 the TV-WRAP campaign, organised by a group of freelancers, highlighted the exploitation and conscious hiring of unpaid, entry level workers, against NMW laws within the television industry.  Employers only offering unpaid work, as if it was an acceptable and legal employment practice, had created an industry where only those that could afford to work unpaid had a chance to enter the workforce.  The legacy of the campaign has been that unpaid jobs are no longer standard practice within major employers and those from less affluent backgrounds now have career options within television.

In the same vein, I’m really proud of my own venture, The Unit List. It was the first free-to-apply, cloud based, jobs board for job seekers to connect with TV production recruiters, run by a worker for other workers.  Putting jobs behind a paywall, the only options available at the time, struck me as immensely unfair and elitist so I created an alternative.

More recently a TV Runners Facebook page I’m on the admin team of – has been forging relationships with broadcast TV recruiters who don’t need people with previous experience or university educations and guiding new talent into being ‘work-ready’.

5. What do you think is the most significant thing your company has done to advance diversity, or what will you do next?

I founded theunitlist.com free jobs board and resource in order to open up accessible employment opportunities for anyone who was interested in a career in television production, regardless of their fiscal, cultural or physical situation.

I’m always delighted when I meet people who tell me the site, or a resource I may have directed them to, helped them into employment and I’m struck by the truly diverse range of individuals.

I’m now planning a series of guest written articles for the site that explain the broad range of roles within TV production, written by the professionals who actually do it as a day job. I think it’s important for new entrants to realise there are a huge range of roles that require different skills and experience and offer different opportunities, than just Producer, Director, Editor and Researcher, which bizarrely seem to be where a lot of graduates have been guided to.

6. What are you watching at the moment?

Mostly drama or docs. The Night Manager, Thirteen, Limitless, Lucky Man, Murdered by my Father and I really enjoyed the Stacey Dooley doc series, Sex In Strange Places.

I’ve also been rinsing Amazon Video and binge watching Vinyl, Mozart in the Jungle, Arrow, Under The Dome, Red Oaks and then getting lost in YouTube rabbit holes watching UrbEx videos from around the world.

7. What word or phrase do you most use?

You mean apart from ‘I’m not sure if we can afford that – leave it with me’?

I’ve been told I say ‘extraness’ quite a lot, it’s usually when the shoot challenges are escalating!