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Meet the Bang team: Will Clough

Updated Tuesday 20th April 2010

How can you take the chaos of the Bang studios, and turn it into smoothly-flowing TV?

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Janet Sumner

So, we’re just taking a break from filming and I’ve managed to grab hold of the Studio Director, Will, and I just want to ask him a little bit about his job and what it is that he’s doing here today.  So, Will, Studio Director, what does that involve?

Will Clough

Well, basically production have put together a plan of the programme they want to produce and then it’s up to me to help with the look of the show and realising that in a practical day to day way, actually putting it on tape, so making sure that what’s in the editorial team’s heads actually gets on tape looking good, and that’s in conjunction with working with the rest of the team, the lighting and the rest of production to make it look good.

Janet Sumner

Yeah, there is quite a large team here today, approximately how many people on location?

Will Clough

Well, I think we’re about 50 people, I think, but yeah, it’s a good team, works well together.

Janet Sumner

Now, obviously it’s quite unusual in that this is a studio but it’s an actual real location.

Will Clough

Yeah.

Janet Sumner

Are there any particular difficulties associated with using a big old industrial space like this?

Will Clough

Yeah, primarily health and safety actually, we’ve got to look after people.  So this is an old building.  It’s been made safe, it’s been made into a location, it’s been made into a studio, so yeah, we’ve always got to be aware of what’s around us and do the job well and safely really.

Janet Sumner

So, what kind of qualifications do you need to do the job that you do, or at least how did you get into doing what you do?

Will Clough

I got into doing what I do by, I started off going to be a surveyor, my dad was a farmer, and then I managed to have rather too good a time at university so I changed courses and I went off and did a media degree in the end, because I figured that was what I wanted to do.  I went to Bournemouth which is now very well established.  When I went it was the second year it had been so we were quite newbies, and yeah, I came out with a media degree, worked as a runner for quite a few years, went to Soho, did all that one, worked for Reel One Films who made the Levi’s advert where the guy takes his trousers off in the launderette, and then, yeah, then in the end became a Second AD, Second Assistant Director.  And in the end thought I'd like to get into the BBC, so I went into the BBC as a clerk signing all the expenses in sport, so did that and then worked my way up to being a Floor Manager, Stage Manager in BBC Sport and then became a Director, eventually a Producer, a Series Producer and now I've come back round to being a Director, I like being a Director, it’s good fun.

Janet Sumner

So, that sounds to me like quite a complex mixture between having the appropriate academic qualification but then still having to go in and learn from the ground floor upwards as it were.

Will Clough

Yeah, and I think that they’re both valid.  Actually if I meet other people I would say if you can get in and get experience take it.  It depends whether you want the academic qualification.  It depends if you can afford that nowadays actually.  You don’t want to come out with a big student debt.  Maybe you want to get in, get hands on and start learning, so I think both are very valid routes.  It’s worked for me I think but it takes a while and you have to persevere and you do have to work hard.

Janet Sumner

So, that’s quite interesting, so there you are with your degree, freshly minted out of university and you had to go back into the BBC as a clerk!

Will Clough

Yeah.

Janet Sumner

How does that work?

Will Clough

Well, in those, well, I think still nowadays as much as then you had to get into the organisation, so I think my best advice would be, if you want to get into the BBC or an organisation like that then try and get in and when you’re in, have a look around, look at the programmes you enjoy, the programmes you want to work on, ring people up, talk to them, find out their email address and ask; if you don’t ask you don’t get.  So for me, that’s what I did.  I went in, I found the job I wanted to do which was to be a Stage Manager at that point and I shadowed people, I did things for free, I helped out on weekends, and occasionally someone might get ill or they might think you’re particularly good at what you do and you’ll get your break, but you’ve got to work hard to get that break and there’s a little element of luck in there as well.

Janet Sumner

Now, this is quite unusual in that it’s a science show, it’s a science show in a studio on prime time BBC and I suppose the question that everybody is asking is; is it the new Tomorrow’s World, or at least it has been billed as the new Tomorrow’s World.  Have you worked on a science production before and is it different from something like drama or sport?

Will Clough

Yeah, I’ve worked in science on other things, but I did an obituary programme for Raymond Baxter which is how I’ve met this production team.  My experience is in BBC events, which was large scale outside broadcasts, lots of things like I worked on Diana’s funeral, any of the big things.  I ended up doing World’s Strongest Man for many years which was great, loved that, travelled the world and had a good time.  This one, I think science, it might be, it’s certainly a homage to Tomorrow’s World but I think this programme stands on its own and I think it is a new look at science.  I think it’s brilliant.  I’m learning so much doing my job, it’s great.

Janet Sumner

I think what’s nice about this programme is that it really is truly integrated in that there are pieces filmed on location, there are pieces filmed here in the studio, but all the time we’re encouraging people to take this learning journey and go from passively watching a television programme to taking part in some of the experiments and following the links to online.

Will Clough

Yeah.

Janet Sumner

Does that make studio production difficult having to incorporate this kind of 360 element?

Will Clough

No, I think it’s great.  It’s something that probably should have been done years ago but it’s evolved, so now we have the web so it’s great to use it.  And I think that being involved I think the audience feel they own a bit of the programme because they are part of the programme and that’s right and proper, we should be sharing it with everyone else.  It’s not just a telly thing; it’s everyone who pays their licence fee.  It’s great.  You can feel involved, yeah.

Janet Sumner

So, it’s good to be part of a production that really does represent a great step forward in terms of what it’s doing with involving the web and the public as well?

Will Clough

No, it’s fantastic.  It’s really good actually.  I was at the BBC for 16 years.  I’m freelance now.  When I left the last thing I did was go down and work with the web guys because I could see that’s the way forward and I’ve actually met, one of the guys I went on that experience with is working on the same programme, so it’s funny how it works.

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To find out more about the making of Bang Goes the Theory visit open2.net/bang.

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