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North East graduates get careers off to a flying start with ‘Angels of the North’

8th November 2022

Several young TV crew from Northumbria University’s Film and TV production degree have seen their careers get off to a flying start by working on the latest series of a BBC show.

‘Angels of the North’, which is now on its fourth series on BBC3, is an observational documentary following the real lives of several businesses and people on Tyneside, who have become TV personalities thanks to the show. And when local production firm Twenty Six 03 was looking for talent to be part of the crew, it approached the University for help.

Neil Percival, Deputy Director of Cultural Partnerships at Northumbria University, said: “Twenty Six 03 came to Northumbria looking for graduates to fill entry level roles, both with production skills and the ability to develop and pitch new TV programme ideas.

“It took on several graduates, and ‘Angels of the North’ is a fantastic first step on their professional career ladder – and just the first stage in our growing relationship with the company.”

The new series, which started on October 17, is one of two shows Neil’s students have been involved with through Twenty Six 03, the other being the forthcoming 24/7 Pet Hospital, featuring work by 2020 graduate Jack Davidson, who was shooting researcher for the show, and has also been involved in camera and in production on the latest two Angels series respectively.

Duncan Gray, the owner of Twenty Six 03, relocated to the North East three years ago in order to base his firm in the region, having started on the first series of Angels of the North.

He said: “Like any new kid on the block, I wanted to pay my respects to the movers and shakers in the area, and was aware that Northumbria has a vibrant TV and film production course.

“So I recruited quite heavily following the University’s summer showcase. I find it’s the best way to source new talent.”

Tony Park, who graduated in the summer of 2022, started as a runner on the latest Angels series before becoming floor runner for one of the location teams, which allowed him to be on set more.

He is one of the Northumbria graduates whose work at the annual Northumbria REVEAL showcase caught Duncan’s eye, and since working with the Gateshead-based studio, he’s been able to carve out a specialism in sound and is now successfully freelancing as a sound assistant.

He said: “It’s quite a rare opportunity to learn so many of the ins and outs of the industry in a first job, and I’m really grateful to Neil and Duncan for giving me that chance.

“The course at Northumbria is really good at giving you a start by providing experience in every role involved in production, especially in first year, which gives you a great foundation to understand how it all works together, as well as letting you discover what you like and are good at, so you can start to specialise in second and third year.”

Despite the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic presented students with, for Tony and his course mates, it also gave them a chance to hone their craft by recording lectures for students to play at home during lockdown, and it was carrying out this task for the University that allowed Tony to discover his love of working in sound.

He added: “It was a real turning point for me because I found a type of freedom and responsibility in sound recording that I really responded to.

“On a shoot you’re the only one with headphones on to hear ay problem, so it’s up to you to fix it. It made me proud to work out problems like that, and I took that experience with me on to Angels and tried to absorb as much as I could.”

Lewie Keddy’s student work as a Director of Photography also impressed Duncan when he was looking for crew members, so Duncan was able to direct his passions towards camera work for the six-week Angels shoot. Lewie continues to gain experience in the field through a camera internship.

Meanwhile, Sean Grinham gained experience on Angels as an assistant editor and has gone on to further study alongside freelance work in the industry, and Tom Lawson, who also gained editing experience, is now a freelance edit assistant and colourist, having also been involved in projects including the BBC’s Springwatch 2022.

Last but not least, Rachel Stronach is now working full-time for ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the screen industries.

Rachel said: “Working on Angels of the North was a fantastic opportunity and experience. I started as a logger and was also able to provide a month of cover as the acting production secretary.

“I have so much admiration for those I was able to work with and learn from, and am pleased Twenty Six 03 was keen to help so many graduates get their foot into the industry. These roles helped me secure my current job at Screen Skills, which so far has been incredible!”

Duncan added: “For me, it’s about understanding what each individual’s passions are and matching that with the right production role, of which there’s a great variety.

“This fourth series of 'Angels of the North’ is the best we’ve made, with richer storytelling, having extended to 30-minute episodes from our original short format.”

Angels of the North is on BBC3 each Monday evening, or you can catch all 10 episodes on iPlayer.

Find out more about Northumbria’s Film and TV production degree.


Image credit: BBC

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