Monday, 3 March 2008

End of my TETHER!!

Why can't I get a job? Seriously? If an interview is based 70% on how you look: I am presentable, a dab hand with my make up, able to scrub up ok, girl next door looks, blue eyed, blonde (albeit with roots) and size 10-12. 20% on what you sound like: lilting Northern Irish tones, softened by 17 years in London, thankfully not nasal sounding. 10% on what you say - well I am always well researched on anyone I meet and the subject we are due to talk about. I spend hours trawling the net, hopeful to find a little snippet of info that will set me apart from the other interviewees. I know my onions when I get in there - years of interviewing celebs has made me fearful of ever being underprepared. That way you can never be thrown. You always have an answer/solution. A good story teller, I have several up my sleeve and pride myself on being able to wheel out an anecdote on any given subject - always with a humble angle, always taking the piss out of myself. In short - I give good interview.

Ok, so interview aside. I have worked in TV for ten years. Trained as a broadcast journalist (2:1 degree) then travelled for a year. Lived in NZ and Oz. Visited Hong Kong, Thailand, India. Came back and was a reporter for 2 years and then freelanced since 1999. An associate producer on channel 4 shows including the obligatory stint on The Big Breakfast. Presented shows on relationships, teen dating, DIY, news, fashion, current affairs - a fecking Dog show programme for gods sake - for a breadth of channels - and made a living in the cut throat bully-boy playground that is presenting. In a sea of fluffy vacant models who somehow snapped up the best jobs - I stood my ground as a comfy girl next door type: friendly, a woman's woman, non threatening and good company. It made me a great interviewer even if I do say so myself. But I tired of being in and out of work like a yo-yo. Never knowing of I had any pennies to go on hols, buy an outfit etc Always living in fear that a new producer would take over and make their mark by axing your truly. I think when I did a screen test at almost 9 months pregnant and the TV company didn't offer me the job saying that I hadn't been 'energetic enough' (a was a bloody beached whale in flats for gods sake - what did they expect?) that I realised how ridiculous the business called show was and decided to jump ship. That and the fact that I flew home to Belfast every week for 10 weeks to present a live show (small babe in arms - the wee bunny was 4 months old), which everyone loved - but the muppet that ran the station insisted on putting the show out on a Friday evening when folk want to watch inane sit coms and relaxing comedy and not tax their wound up brains after a week on the treadmill. It was a Thursday evening show for sure, but muppet wouldn't accept he could possibly be wrong - and so canned my show. Audience figures not high enough. I wanted to scream at muppet - 'Cos they were in the fucking pub!!! Now put it out on a Thursday and you'll see...' Even the vicious TV critics liked it... Anyway, it wasn't re-commissioned. I was out of work and trying not to live on bitter street.

I have spent a year trying to get into script editing. Never one to expect everything on a plate, I wrote letters: cheeky but charming and managed to get renowned people in TV drama to chat to me. They all said "Go work on a soap!" And made it sound like all I would have to do something akin to hailing a black cab. Come to think of it - getting one of those in Soho around midnight is damn impossible - as is getting work on a soap. I've script read for a year... learnt loads about what makes a good, a bad and a downright ugly script and am more confident (not only that I am improving but that this really is the area I want to go into) than ever. I did get a wonderful job offer last year - based in Leeds, on an ITV soap that I had to turn down. I cried for a week. Especially as the folk were lovely and I really felt I could learn so much from them. Since then I have whittled my job opportunities down to one job. In the whole of the UK. You see there are 8 soaps in the UK. 3 in London. 2 of those see themselves as 'continuing drama' not a soap. So there is one soap (thankfully the that one I love and have watched for many many years) in London for me to apply to. I met with lovely folk who work there and found out I am not experienced enough - instead I would be suitable for an assistnat script editor job. There is just one of those at this soap. Now, I move house in 6 weeks and need a job. Or quite simply I won't be able to pay my new King Kong sized mortgage. Last week I wrote to 25 literary agents who represent TV writers - offering to read for them/assist them/ water their plants etc etc. 4 replied they do not need readers. I met with one. The loveliest man - a genuine pleasure. But he wanted to me to head up a department and work on commission only. No can do as sadly banks do not wait around until your tree bears fruit for mortgage payments. Alas I need raw cash - and now. But can I get employed - frankly I couldn't get arrested. How is it that a bright, enthusiastic, loyal graduate with 10 years of work under her belt is unable to net a job?

See my tether. Go to the end of it. That's where you'll find me.

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