Diversity in broadcasting: Children create their own chat show.

Barking and Dagenham School children got to take part in a pioneering pilot project aimed at diversifying the workforce in broadcast media.

A recent Ofcom report found that people from working-class backgrounds are underrepresented in the broadcasting sector. Yet, at the same time, the borough is a hotbed of film and TV production with London’s largest film and TV production complex, Eastbrook Studios near completion and the capital’s newest production facility – The Wharf Studios in operation.

This growth presents a special opportunity for local people, of all backgrounds, to get involved in, and benefit from, the film and TV industry.

In a joint effort to promote diversity in broadcasting and engage local children in the flourishing film industry, Film Barking & Dagenham’s ‘Make It Here’ Programme, with support from Eastbrook Studios endowment, has teamed up with training and mentoring initiative Crew Room Academy to create a Schools Broadcasting Pilot.

The pilot saw 50, 14 to 17-year-olds from underrepresented backgrounds create their very own chat show.

The children got to use the facilities of a 40ft outside broadcast truck, working with engineers from outside broadcast specialists NEP and professionals selected by Crew Room Academy to set up a fully working ‘chat show’.

The teens had a real-life experience producing a chat show using industry equipment with guidance from media professionals; they interviewed guests, were responsible for the cables, cameras, and broadcast equipment, as well as working in the mobile unit to edit and relay the broadcast live.

They took turns working in the outside broadcast unit, where the directing and sound engineering took place, on the cameras and as the ‘floor’ team who were responsible for managing the show and the microphones. The chat show was created exactly as real-world programmes are, with the same equipment and crews that work on top TV shows, including several industry volunteers who work on ITV’s This Morning.

The chat show the students created on the day has been edited into an impressive showreel, which all the students involved can use in their portfolios/CVs.

As part of the project, the children have had talks and presentations given by CBeebies presenter Aaron Roach Bridgeman.

James Ash, co-founder, from Crew Room Academy explains: “It’s fantastic to be able to offer these amazing young people the opportunity to delve into what it takes to make a TV production. We hope this will be the first of many roadshows running up and down the country. Having said that, it’s only through the generous support of industry partners, such as Eastbrook Studios, that we can make this a reality, so please get in touch if you’d like to get involved and support this exciting initiative.”

Jon Harris, Head of Technical Project Planning & Management, at NEP said: “It has been a delight to work with Crew Room Academy to introduce students and young individuals to the exciting realm of broadcast. Supporting workshops and events like these allows us to inspire the next generation of upcoming talent while providing them with the opportunity to learn, ask questions and connect with our team of experts.

“We recognise that our commitment to fostering new and diverse talent is a key driver in propelling our industry forward, so we are excited to continue our work with Crew Room Academy to invest in the future generations of our industry.”

Young people from three of the borough’s secondary schools were involved in the pilot, organised by Inspiring Futures: Jo Richardson Community School, Sydney Russell School, and The Warren School.

Councillor Elizabeth Kangethe, Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, praised the initiative, saying, “This project empowers our youth to shine in the broadcasting industry, offering hands-on experience with top-notch equipment and guidance from professionals. It’s a testament to our commitment to providing equal opportunities for all students.”

Following on from the chat show day, the students will be taken on a tour of Television Centre in White City, where ITV Daytime along with ITV Academy will show them the same style of production in a professional studio setting.

All the broadcasting crew gave their time for free, and NEP donated all the equipment and vehicles for free, in a growing commitment to giving young people from underrepresented backgrounds the chance to get into the industry.

Latest articles


Related articles