The alarm buzzed at five a.m. In my zombie-like state, I clicked snooze and came to at the edge of my bed. It was the day of the Channel 4 Experience Day in London. I had to get the train at 7:25am from Cardiff Central to Paddington Station. Blurry-eyed, I stumbled through my morning routine and walked to Cathays Train Station from my house in Roath. The streets were dark, only the navy of the Autumn morning sky and shop windows illuminated the pavements. As I sauntered through the sleepy streets, I felt my excitement rising. Today is the day I’m going to London to see how a major broadcast channel operates.
A group of us from the 4Talent Cardiff Pop-Up event met at the station. Luckily we all had similar interests – most of us attending the same university; so making conversation was effortless. The lack of caffeine in my system made itself known halfway through the three and a half hour train journey to London. The carriage was silent, and the rumbling of the tracks beneath swayed me unconscious.
I awoke as we entered the train platform. As I made my way toward the underground, I was aware of my sense of calmness in the chaos of commuters. The previous times I had been to London had been an intimidating experience. Stern faces and rushing business people made me un-easy; but today I felt a sense of belonging in a city full of working-world citizens.
Arriving at Channel 4 HQ, a huge structure of the classic ‘4’ associated with the channel greeted the group. Its layered aesthetic proved effective against the industrially-sleek architecture of its building. We entered through revolving doors and were given a name badge. ‘HANNAH HUGHES’ was printed boldly on a sticker that blazoned my chest. I had to admit, this outcast stamp of pure humiliation began to affect my ‘working-girl/one-of-them’ attitude.
As morning progressed, we were invited to a screening of a Channel 4 show-reel, along with talks by industry professionals. Insights into the 4Talent apprenticeship schemes and continuity announcing proved interesting and exciting.
Throughout the day, we were encouraged to apply for all things Channel 4; from work-experience, apprenticeships to full-time roles; our hosts made it known that Channel 4 was looking for new talent.
The morning whizzed by, and before we knew it we were handed £5 vouchers to spend in the canteen. What a selection! From sustainably sourced fish and chips, to Mediterranean pasta bake and a fresh deli to a freshly-prepared risotto station; the canteen was a gift from the Dionysus himself! I opted for the pasta bake, and finished with a blueberry cheesecake muffin. It was simply delightful.
Free tea and coffee stations were dotted around the headquarters. As I was preparing my third cup of tea we were taken to a conference room within the heights of the building. Sean Collins, a programme scheduler awaited to give us a talk on the importance of scheduling programmes. I really enjoyed Sean’s talk. I learned that there is more to scheduling that meets the audiences eye. From data analysis to viewer behaviour, the schedule must conform to the channel’s remit, whilst staying aware of competitors content and its audiences needs. This aspect thoroughly interested me because I understood that there was a mandate for the scheduling team to meet a host of demands whilst keeping the integrity of its listings relevant to both consumer and the producer.
Let’s face it, I couldn’t spend a day at Channel 4 without asking one question. What is next for the Bake Off?! Inside the conference room channel executives were tight-lipped. Despite being un-satisfied with this reaction, I had to accept that the future of Bake-Off is simply to remain a mystery until its broadcast next year.
The day was coming to an end and we concluded our experience exploring the HQ’s different departments. Each floor had a different purpose, from 4Talent to 4Creative, to the legal department and even to the depths of the editing suites in the basement; there was a palpable energy that oozed importance throughout the veins of the building.
Our closing talk was hosted by Gabrielle, a liaison within the 4Talent department. Giving insightful tips and tricks for how to conquer the media industry, all attendees were invited back for an event in January.
Today was a very special day, not only because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to exhibit the nature of a media institution, but also because it taught me invaluable skills that will enable me to get ahead in my desired industry.
As I finish writing this blogpost on the train back from London, I am filled with a sense of contentment that I first felt this morning. The calmness of knowing what I want to do next, and having the skills to do so is an exciting prospect for me. I can’t wait to see what is to come!
I shall leave you with this: a supposed identifier of Richard Rogers (the building’s architect) architectural design…