This week we catch up again with freelance Executive Producer, Claire Faragher as she discusses watching TV upside down as a child to producing one of ITV’s most successful Reality TV shows. Claire explains her obsession with TV.
Where did your career in the industry begin? Did you always want to work in TV?
I started out as a print journalist and then became a chat show producer at Anglia Television after applying successfully for a job advertised in the Guardian Media Guide. I had been obsessed with television as long as I can remember – I even went through a phase of watching television upside down (don’t ask me why – I was a child and it added variety!). So when I thought about progressing from my job as a newspaper reporter, what appealed most was using my journalistic skills for television. At Anglia TV, I also made fly-on-the-wall docs and magazine shows for a number of different channels, before joining the BBC, where I downgraded and trained up eventually as a Producer/Director before moving onto being a Deputy Editor and Series Producer.
What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome whilst trying to make it in the TV industry?
Possibly getting my first break as a director. I feel that strong producers or journalists can be viewed as one trick ponies who are not very visual or can’t work across different genres. When I finally got my chance to direct and then PD it was nice to thwart such views and also get stuck in in the edit, where even today it’s nice to still be surprised with what you can do.
The phenomenal success of TOWIE shows no signs of abating, turning some of the cast into overnight celebrities, introducing us to the vajazzle and phrases such as ‘reem and ‘well jel’. It has spawned rival copycat scripted reality shows but TOWIE remains the firm favourite with viewers (and critics alike). Claire Faragher, Series Producer on Series 1 and Executive Producer on Series 2, discusses the reason for its success.
Why do you think TOWIE was such a big hit?
We had an incredible cast of colourful (orange) characters, a lot of laughs, relationship dramas, and a unique way of filming the show, which gives it a cartoonish, hyper-real style. And then there was the high-speed and high-quality editing and structuring. The production team got to know the characters inside out and they had enough trust in us to allow us to film some of their best and worst moments. And due to the speed of turnaround the show was more reactive than anything that has come before or since in this genre (it’s a 24/7 operation). The production team worked very hard and there were a lot of brilliant people who made it such a great series. Some of us worked double shifts or more throughout, came up with the structure pre and post pilot and basically pulled off what many thought was impossible, with between three and nine HD cameras filming every scene and with at most 3.5 days to film and cut each episode. Also, ITV Marketing & Publicity gave it a massive push and at our press launch night I’ll never forget the immediacy with which the tabloids embraced our show. Oh, and not forgetting the hard work and talent of the production team I employed…have I already mentioned that??!!!