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Read this: Jane Tranter, super-producer

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Jane Tranter, super-producer…

Hello all our guests on the media show this year has been the biggest and the brightest in the business, but for this last show of 2020 I have genuinely served you one of the very next today.

We have these super producer and yes, that is a word behind some of the most celebrated shows on TV his Dark Materials succession industry the night of a discovery of witches on and on so many hits in the last five years alone on just one CV she's a huge champion of making TV in Wales bad wolf the production company she co-founded as a HQ or headquarters Cardiff and she's credited with reigniting the Welsh TV industry.

Have the next half hour maybe a bit more maybe a bit less she's gonna tell us all about that and her career.

It is a warm festive welcome to the media show to Jane tranter Jane how are you?

Opel Corsa calcivet which is immediately below the famous BBC radio drama department which I read is where you started your career? I did I did so I started my career in radio drama.

I knew I wanted to do something telling stories and I didn't know anybody in any form of Media or theatre or anything like that at all and I was just desperate to work somehow and storytelling but didn't really know how while what and on the same day.

I got three different jobs one was weirdly as a byline as a trainee buyer working at Liberty's in London because I like the design of that store when was working at the Royal Shakespeare Company as an assistant for various directors and one was working as a secretary in the radio drama department and I was convinced.

I was going to go to the Royal Shakespeare Company

I've been brought up going to Shakespeare plays and and what sort of in love with that whole Stratford-on-Avon thing and at the last minute.

I thought if I go and work for radio drama.

There is a chance.

I will pick up the telephone because they had telephones and offices and those days.

I will pick up the telephone to Arthur Miller he was doing a recording of one of his place at the time and so I'm going to do that job because I might be living playwrights and I never did pick up the phone to Arthur Miller but I did meet loads of living playwrights and that sort of set me on my path.

What did you learn as a secretary the BBC radio drama department that was precious and valuable and that you would have learnt the liberties or I restore the RAC I wasn't very long.

I think it was under a year.

I went in thinking that I was somebody and something and I learnt that I had an all.

Long way to go and the best way, I could enjoy my job and to learn was to shut up listen hide.

My intense not look too grasping for I want to go to the studio.

I want to go on this location do the very best job I could for everybody and the rest would follow and it was a real lesson in hold on you know you're working life could be a long game if you're lucky enough and just pays it and you know nothing and it that way it's good to learn things every day.

Isn't it Radio 4 Radio 4 afternoon listening to be extremely disappointed that you quite quickly quit the word Radio 4 TV

I wanted to tell screen stories like I love radio drama, but I I wanted to tell stories where you'll always have to be speaking radio drama doesn't always do that and fairness.

There's all sorts of other ways of of of letting an audience know what's going on inside a character for a soundscape, but I just love the visual form and I wanted to work in television.

It never occurred to me to work in film.

I had grown up not really being allowed to watch television that much to watch ITV cartoons and I had spent whenever my parents were out.

I would sneak downstairs and what's the 9:00 television think they were television plays for today or I would watch things on Toyota possible in my bedroom upstairs, and I I love that episodic week after week having to wait for the next episode to come.

Where is and telling a story pictorial the actors faces told story I just love that so that's why I made them say that you didn't get to watch ITV you didn't at work anyway up ITV are you went back to the BBC after that basically running TV drama for the corporations and big jobs out in America that was back in the noughties and you gave the green light goes like Life on Mars Spooks and Doctor Who and I'm going to ask you about Doctor Who the moment, but can you just give us a sense of what TV dramas in Britain back in those days was all about what the culture is like having a very different now.

Have you had the power back then as well? Yeah completely different moment so when I started running BBC dramas back in 2008 was really it was really Ola ITV at that time is absolutely loved ITV I was allowed to watch Coronation Street but it was back when I was growing up in the BBC and it.

All about ITV and those days drama with you really only got it on the BBC on ITV on Channel 4 and get all the Big Show's you know during the 1990s ITV detective drama Midsomer Murders it have reinvented it on both ends of the spectrum.

It reinvented it in a sort of soft ecosia.

Kind of way and it reinvented it in a more all go to bed feeling slightly anxious about streets outside cracker Prime Suspect Band of Gold kind of way and BBC drama was to be honest limping behind a bit obsessed with period dramas of course the famous Pride and Prejudice

Miserable and it was trying too hard and don't really know it was and I don't think there was a culture of the BBC at the time and that really loved entertaining popular drama and it was hard because in those days the BBC news at 9 which man it's drama post watershed drama.

I didn't start till 9:30.

So the audience have already talked in on ITV4 half whatever glory they were offering and I was really lucky because when I took over drama department Greg Dyke was there and he came along and said right ok what we're going to do is we're going to move the news from 9 to 9 to 10 and that means we can have a drama out like CV and I'm going to invest in drama, because he understood that in a drama is often the way that unite the nation and its viewing and if that's anything that the BBC should be doing it should be doing that so I was really lucky.

I went in and and the dramas quite miserable list.

I don't mind them is more drama to be sure why you no drama can be any sort of know on the spectrum, but it can't only be that and I genuinely loved episodic drop me that felt like the equivalent of the 19th century novel.

So whose idea was it to reboot Doctor Who actually, because that's what I have been longing to do.

I love Doctor Who is a kid.

I am I was quite loyal to it.

All the way through I was glad when it stood down but as soon as I felt confident and have built up the confidence of the BBC and the channel controllers.

I was I was there petitioning to do Doctor Who but actually at the same time Alan Yentob was looking at Doctor Who and looking for a film.

So there wasn't I wasn't the only person who was thinking Doctor Who it was clearly than the site guys, but I did manage to persuade the BBC that it should be done as a TV show rather than the film.

and the doctor

ta impossible to put your bloody company has a headquarters in Wales is headquartered in Cardiff before Doctor Who Did you have much experience of Wales and it's TV industry for Dr Who in full disclosure to my very great shame.

I have never slept fernwells yep never so I did obviously I follow the the BBC world drama, but I had never been there and in fact the First Time Cardiff to have a meeting with Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner I got off the train at Newport because I just thought I must have been on the train for long enough now.

I'll I'll get off it was just stupid obviously.

But I you need to migrate shame I have been there before 2003 but as soon as I was there I realised it was God's own country in so many different way, what was the one who ended up being made in Wales could use instead of the BBC then I don't if you think it's true now, so well as an equator Problem Child having gone there.

I realised it was exactly the opposite and I'm a great believer problem children in my view are the very best children you might remember that as your 80 months old grows up.

They are the children and I just hadn't looked at BBC World in the right way and there was massive Talent I was amazingly lucky that Russell T Davies Julie Garner both Welsh different ways introduce me to Wales to the amazing through that was there.

And we decided to put Doctor Who in a studio in Cardiff it was I was thinking maybe we'll put it in Manchester because that's where Russell lives and you think my heart will we could put because that's in London and why am I actually Russell also list some of the time in Cardiff why don't we do it there and let another nation have a good production in 2015 and the name plot line.

Is that right so in season 1 of Doctor Who Russell T Davies had the simple putting this amazing plot where in each episode you would see Bad Wolf kind of like written or scrawled or graffitied somewhere and he never mentioned it and you never knew where it was and it was only in the climax of of the First season that you realise when rose Tyler looked into the time for text inside the TARDIS and and and

In order to save the world that she went back and wrote bad wolf in various places for her to remind her when the Time comes to look into the time vortex of the TARDIS and and I felt when I look back over my career.

It was almost like I had written it Wales stupid in various places meaning that eventually set up a production company in Wales and it was like lots of different pieces from 2000 onwards have been moving to do this and so bad wolf and anyway.

It's really cold now.

Yeah, it's been pretty good.

I just really have been up an operation to have now we have a staff of around 40 and that's a staff of around 40 who look after the production of the shows that we've been making over the past few years.

That's his Dark Materials of discovery of witches industry and I hate Suzie so that sort of stuff.

40 but obviously there are hundreds attached to each of course that you're dealing with his massive us companies aside for the streaming charts as people like HBO you did with top stars top.

What's your pitch to them some of whom may never set foot in well some of them, who might get off the train at Newport thinking about going to Cardiff what's your pitch to them? It's the way the next show she got to be with Jane tran pretty obvious reasons for that which will get into but why they should work in Wales so I quite often tells the story of why I decided to set up the company in Wales wife finally also the collect together and that was essentially I've spent a lot of time filming in filming the night off in New York and the night of the contemporary piece set in New York and it feels as if it's really an entirely location peace but the truth is we found an awful.

Lot of that as the American way in the studio.

What's more the UK way to go and film out on the Mean Streets and a very very location-based but it is much more an American tradition to film the studio and while I was there.

I really appreciate two things one was fully in studio and the concentration around text and Performance that can give you and the second thing was I really appreciated the New York Cruise and I loved their loyalty and dedication to that area.

I love the fact that often the jobs were handed down through the families.

I often say that I discovered.

They were father to son and my ambition is the handed down from mother to daughter moving forwards, but the mother to Sandbach but I those New York cruise remind me of the dedication and passion I have found the cruising where of and I said a fuse the two things together and for actually I could find a studio space in Wales and make the kind of shows.

I really love to make with providing a studio for the actors to be able to feel more comfortable in and for the truth to be able to be more imaginative to confess you James is it before I started working at BBC I didn't really know what produces do I don't really know they exist is it like I worked in used for many years.

Love you.

Don't really know it's abilities of the ones who get with the blame but also do the work no knows what they do those.

You don't know the industry.

There's some people who might say that look at something amazing dramas.

I get what the actors do get the script writers do I get the directors do what does Jane want to do a really really good question so produces the role of a producer of various.

It's not it's not for those things if you see a producer credit in the UK it's not necessarily the same role as a producer credit in the US but essentially what I do for bad wolf the role.

Is I quite often find the source material in the first place? So whether it's the idea for industry or whether it's let's adapt his Dark Materials or Discovery chairs.

All let's do a piece Laura Wells or whatever it might be I can't I normally start with something that is interest is of interest to me and I was take the view that because a long time I really want to I need to be interested enough myself to sit and live with these characters and so I start that process with an idea writers and the writer's then pick it up and fly with it.

So about point it leaves my own kind of small let's have an idea about this mentality and becomes a living breathing thing in his hands and then I will find a broadcaster.

I'll find the finance off.

I'm the director I'll help find the cast and crew.

Find the tonality of the Peace I often then leave everyone on their own when they go off filming because you should have said the whole thing emotion you got the scripts you got the time you got your directors and there's nothing I can do apart from trip over lights and getting everyone's way and walking to shot on film me and only leave everyone on their own and try and set up another show while everyone's filming and then I come back again and work with the editor and the director and the edit and shape the show I nearly always work with another producer.

I tend to kind of Wonder around make a little party everywhere.

I need another producer too kind of like help me often it you know when you're working very big budget shows it takes way more than one producer to you know all the roles that need doing and keep everybody safe, but it's a it's a great job.

There's a lot to do with his Dark Materials

Boots custom-made Wales and that epic epic adaptation of Philip Pullman series of the big hit for the BBC closer the BBC come to not being part of this Amazing Project because it's the most expensive drama the BBC's ever helped found and I must have a couple of very well informed birdies.

Told me that the auction was pretty lively and that the BBC ended up increasing its off a very very dramatically cos it's just so the BBC I went to the BBC straight away as soon as Philip Pullman was gracious enough to give me a go with the rights.

I went to the BBC and I did that before Netflix HBO anybody and the reason I did that was because I felt that it was really important to keep his Dark Materials grounded that you can easily gonna fly off in this kind of fantasy into something that was how long is a piece of string with the budget and you can lose yourself in it and I

The books on National treasures the books are grounded fantasy the books have got really important things to say and often quite tough things to say and I really trusted the BBC to help keep me and the production honest and so I went to the BBC first.

The difficulty for the BBC was then how you put together a budget which is more than American size budget the doorway between Wells has been opened.

Add travel so far, but it's been made by us studio.

It's not be made directly by a US broadcaster and that was when there were moments when I thought well.

I'm never going to raise the money for this and then the number of us really interested in coming on board, but they wanted all sorts of different rights but in the end HBO and the BBC which is a co-production partnership.

I've been used to working with They Came together and that was brilliant and it worked as a successful go back to you because you did have this huge job in Los Angeles BBC worldwide, then was called as you say that's the commercial subsidiary the BBC when did you first become aware that there was a revolution over the hill, where is giant Californian comfy?

Fixing the rest were about to transform TV and your life.

I was very taken up when I first got to Los Angeles in having to work out how to make a living running a production company out there that don't belong to a major US broadcaster and wasn't a major US studio and so it took me a long time to really kind of like focus on what was going on with all the apps.

I think the real Revolution has actually come during lockdown Netflix is obviously grown from strength to strength the real revolution.

I feel is how I feel now watch drama different young Jane waiting for episodes weeks, so I can watch them when I want as I want them and I like the whole Series 2A dropped.

So if I want to watch over 4 nights or whatever I can and I think that that's changed complete.

I feel that if I could wave a magic wand I would like to have released all episodes of his Dark Materials so the audience can just choose when they want to watch them and how they want to watch and I'm not saying that the weekly transmission isn't important.

I still think you can build a vent around that social media and how we speak to each other a wider community while watching is a brilliant thing to do but no doubt that during the lockdown people have started to watch television drama differently and and that's never going to change again and I think you know the iPlayer or HCA Max will become as important as the channels and then when I often hear do you buy the argument that the popularity of monthly subscriptions to a streaming service means the tipple of a licence fees now doomed because I think that it's about the nature of the content.

Just because you are allowing an audience to view the content differently doesn't mean to say that the BBC has to change its remit and is the BBC's Reema is going to remain a public service remit than it needs a licence for you to help protect it and ensure that it can be viewed by all the people who want to have access to view and the other people get wrong about this industry should be like Netflix they forget that it takes off the billions of pounds to build an audience which is what Netflix has found what Disney plus found out about this time last year on this show I did a long interview with Bob Seger of Disney he spoke about their new streaming offer Disney plus that has exceeded all expectations.

It's not over 86 million already, but the service they said an investor call in December the service is not going to make a penny of profit.

This is Disney so they make a penny prove it for you for a few years yet.

So isn't this whole Golden Age living through built on a investor confidence which is?

Amount of debt.

Yes, I think that I would say two things to that one s after wonder what people mean when they say we're not going to make any profit you mean you're not going to make a penny a profit.

Everyone's taking a normal salary still everyone's covered huge overheads until you pay for every love piece of enormous marketing you've done so you've reinvested back into the company and you call that charge on budget however.

I'm not sure what never making any profit really means is one thing the other thing is that the whole point of being able to view like this which I think is really interesting for television and I think is treating television as the proper hot for television drama at as a proper up for me should be which is he's got a long tail you know I think that are so like his Dark Materials will be 4 years and years and years to come and therefore you're not looking for an immediate return you're not looking for an immediate overnight what you're looking for is an engagement from an audience that suggests.

I will be watched for years and years and years and that's where the real value lies.

It's like you know having a book you don't necessarily just you know really wants put on the shelf and then no one else have a look at it again looked at by many over a period of time in the time that we got left.

I want to talk about this radio when I want to talk to you about when they said James is coming on just get to succession S2 half an hour should explain he is and it's totally TV drama is based on a very powerful Media family.

Have you think it's just the Murdoch's is also another powerful Media mobile call Sumner redstone and his family and my view too personal viewbook succession.

I think is together with Breaking Bad and the wire and maybe the greatest is the best written at drama full times from Jesse Armstrong isn't the guy behind Peep Show how did it come about briefly if you weren't so I

I'm going to disappoint you.

I have I was not involved in the pilot of succession, which which I'm really sorry that was nothing to do with me Finchley Jessie made a pilot of succession for hvh.

They loved clearly and picked it up for Sarah's and then HBO said to me.

Could you help Jesse set up a writer's room and would love to work on the show news operations we can sweep up local TV why shouldn't we do all the news well cos that's not how things work in this country.

I've never seen I've never been in a better run more creative better hearted.

Just better writers room and just didn't really need my help at all here.

We had everything I helped him speak HBO for the first few months you know sometimes.

It's very different US television to UK television and just became the biggest cheerleader and supporter with some shows it can sometimes take a few episodes for them to be without their and really should generate a bit of a following before their figures really my senses that was what happens succession.

Yes certainly was certainly season 2 of succession did gangbusters and it's sort of built on season 2 succession beginning to transmit when season 1 of succession was getting all of it's kind of awards and plaudits and things something it can take a while.

I do think with the streaming services that brilliantly and sort of old-fashioned Lee a lot about word-of-mouth and suddenly everyone talking about the Queen's Gambit so you can take can take awhile tranter bad wolf.

Of super producer of 2 and it shows to mention, thank you so much for your time.

Thank you.

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