Tom Fenner – The One Show – email@example.com
Mike Smith – BBC Arts – firstname.lastname@example.org
Nadia Dahabiyeh – BBC Breakfast – email@example.com
Jo Sheinman – Loose Women (inc Book Club) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Pugh – This Morning – email@example.com and
Samantha McAlister – Newsnight – firstname.lastname@example.org
were both unfortunately unable to attend at the last minute but have sent notes – below.
Tom Fenner – The One Show
The One Show has been going for eight years, and occupies a live slot on BBC1 at 7pm. It’s there to serve as the aperitif for the rest of the evening, and Tom described it as a “transitional topical, entertainment show” hosted by Alex Jones and Matt Baker.
Tom is in charge of guest booking – ie what he referred to as “getting bums on sofas”! Generally they have to go for well-known names so please bear that in mind when pitching.In terms of authors, they want people in the public eye – household names like Stephen Fry, for example, and they tend towards the lighter end of the market.
For forward planning and more topical / feature based items the contact is Deborah Partridge but if in doubt about the right contact, Tom can point you in the right direction.
They will work ahead as far as they can! They do sometimes end up scrabbling around for a guest the night before, but this isn’t their ideal – they are now booking for the autumn, up until Christmas. For a really big name, they will get it in the diary as soon as possible.
They are now based in Broadcasting House in the middle of town so there are no awkward logistics ferrying guests around, and they need people to arrive around 6.15 in the evening for makeup and prep, ready to go live any time from 7pm.
They don’t really cover costs but they can send cabs, in fact it’s their preference to do so as they have a very reliable car company who they know will get people there at the right time. They never pay guests an appearance fee.
Tom feels they are the destination show in terms of most influential / best for book sales. They will really accommodate a book and give it a good plug, and according to Waterstones it really sends people through the doors and affects sales.
If you come on the One Show you will get a dedicated slot, and a pack shot of the book on screen. In terms of ratings, the tail of the show is the best slot, and it regularly gets 5-6 million viewers as people settle in for East Enders.
They will follow Graham Norton, and vice versa for the right guest. Everyone will say they need to go first but for a big enough name, and if you’re up front, they can be negotiated down from this!
Tom’s major frustration is when people ring up clearly knowing nothing about the show – please do have a cursory google before you call, it’s only courtesy.
He’s happy to be contacted however you like but email with a follow up phone call is probably the best way email@example.com – he doesn’t mind if you persevere!
He will try and give you a straight no if it’s never going to work, rather than leaving people dangling, however “maybes” might take longer to pin down.
He does meet up with publicists for forward planning meetings, and likes to go through catalogues. But he finds it frustrating when he’s talked it through with a publicist and his impression is that he’s been given”first dibs”, only to find closer to the time that the guest has been booked on a rival show.
There are a few strands within the show, aside from being a guest. Their commissioners make about 700 short films a year on anniversaries etc, all of which require speakers, presenters and materials. Examples have been short films on clouds, trees anniversaries – they’ve all come from books, originally. Lead times on films is 3-4 months although they can do topical stuff on shorter notice.
They have an hour show on the Weds with second and third guests in addition to the main guest.
There are quite a few different departments in The One Show but Tom is a good central point of contact, however sometimes he’ll say no to someone and a colleague will say yes, so don’t be afraid to try other avenues.
They plan at Thursday at 1pm.
Mike Smith – BBC Arts
Mike words across loads of different strands including Imagine, The One Show, BBC 2, Jonathan Ross’s recent film Pinewood, BBC4 to name just a few.
Some of these slots are pre-occupied with 2016/17, some work closer to the time!
They make 45 four minutes films for The One Show – the way it works, is they create a big directory of proposals, and The One Show browse through and decide which they would like to take. Sophie Deveson is the person in charge of this firstname.lastname@example.org They are looking for subject matter for a series of short films going out in 2016 called Britain by the Book – telling the story of a book, where it’s set, how it was inspired, – this is a good slot for re-issues, and a reason to look at a classic is very welcome. Ideally they are looking for subjects that cover the whole of Britain, eg Letters of Note, Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways – think about those lovely stories that connect with a place that you love or know well.
Also on BBC 1 they have Imagine, where they are looking for big reputational cultural figures with a meaty career behind them – enough to make a narrative out of their story. Their appearance could be pegged to a memoir, or a novel, play, anniversary or theme, however the show follows a loose topical agenda so there does needs to be a reason to cover it now as oppose to any other time. Alternatively , it could be more “chewy” journalistic theme eg how we listen to music, or why we make art. They see this as the highest profile most reputational slot on the BBC, and they really cover everything from popular to high culture, Monty Python through to Philip Roth, for example.
On BBC2, their main concern aside from Arts Night is commissioning for 2016/17 – they are looking for biographies across the whole of the artistic cannon. The bar is high in terms of who these people are, they need to be recognisable by the average viewer at 9pm. And in terms of the slant of the piece, they want revelations, new information and above all a name attached to it. Access to family archives is a huge plus – examples of the kind of people they’d look at would be figures like David Hockney, Lucien Freud – people of significant status with an interesting story. They are in the market for one or two of those people and books can provide the peg.
Arts Night goes out on a Friday post Newsnight. It’s not studio format – it’s a half hour programme curated by someone that we recognise, eg Andrew Marr on great playwrights who were NOT Shakespeare, Lily Cole on the “pram in the hall”. There are 30 of these, and what Mike wants to know is books coming up that might kick up topics for a guest curator to kick off. Good contacts are Hannah Robson or Daniel O’Connor email@example.com
On BBC4 they have the In Conversation strand – this is big names, and high brow names, eg Ken Loach talking to Cillian Murphy – these are organised out of their Scottish office by firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a Scottish angle then BBC Scotland commission separately so approach them directly. Edinburgh is a big strand for them and any EIBF authors are of interest – please forward names to Pauline Law.
BBC4 are also looking for writers and story tellers, living or dead, who can sustain a profile – top 100 British authors kind of list. It could be looking back a generation to look at who influenced who. Please send ideas for 2016/7 to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (NB that Charlie is a woman.)
They will cover children’s authors provided they tick all the boxes above.
They plan week round and now is a good time to pitch!
Nadia Dahabiyeh – BBC Breakfast
BBC Breakfast is now based up in Salford, and Nadia books guests for the last 40 minutes, a slot called The Bridge which serves as an, er, bridge! between the hardcore news section and the daytime TV shows. They like actors, authors, writers and cooks.
Their audience loves books – fiction, but it does have to be a name they’ve heard of, they can’t tend to cover debuts unless there’s a news story around them. Eg Paula Hawkins they had on but only after Reese Witherspoon instagrammed about her and after it had been number 1 for four weeks.
Fiction, they need to have an interesting tale to tell about how they wrote the book – and ideally the show needs TV-friendly visuals, eg photos, video clips they can flash up to illustrate the piece, so it’s not just someone talking to camera.
Aside from fiction, they also cover autobiography, although here it needs to be a recognisable name or a really great personal story. For example they featured author Nancy Tucker who spoke about overcoming anorexia and the support she got from Jacqueline Wilson. They don’t do a lot of sport.
They need guests in Salford on the sofa by 8.15. They pay for the hotel and travel within Manchester but no travel to and from Manchester – the publicist is responsible for this.
The producer will always have read the book.
If your author is a series-writer, then please tell them not to assume that everyone watching will have read all the books and knows all the characters, they need to be prepared to retell the character / back story from fresh and not assume too much.
They get a lot about anniversaries which they do mark, but there’s a limit to how much they can cover. What really works for them with historical accounts is getting a first person account from someone who was really there. Eg a book called Born Survivors about children born in the concentration camps – they probably wouldn’t have done the author solo but they interviewed the author alongside three surviving children.
Nadia likes to be emailed – the ideal is a short, pithy email selling your author in a few sentences. She doesn’t mind a follow up phone call but in a few days, not immediately after! She will try to say no if she knows immediately it’s not going to work. If it’s a maybe then it might take a while to get an answer.
She likes to meet people to go through catalogues for big names, but she doesn’t find hard copies of catalogues very useful, so don’t just desk drop her. Please watch the programme so you know what the drill is.
If you have a talking head on newsy, topical stuff, she appreciates a heads up in advance but might not be able to confirm until closer to the time. They will cover children’s authors occasionally, particularly if it’s as part of a news story eg something on children’s literacy.
They plan on Monday at 12 o clock for 3 hours – and then Nadia has a Monday weekly meeting with the editors.
Jo Sheinman – Loose Women
Jo is head of showbiz at Loose Women – which means that she is responsible for booking the entertainment guests. Jayne Hancock books the news and human interest guests.
The show goes out on ITV, weekdays, and amazingly is into its 20th series – it has been going 16 years! They are on pretty much year round apart from school holidays.
It’s the only show that has a dedicated all-female panel. They have a studio audience – comedians and actors tend to really like that. It’s never too early to contact them, they’re booking up until Christmas but also next week.
They tend to only have one celeb guest per day, and one human interest story per day. Their ideal is inspirational women, or stories that are in the news – something really strong or controversial, or super warm and female. Examples of recent successful pieces were the Bare Reality Project – pictures of women’s boobs, or a guest who received a cochlear implant and came on to talk about it – they featured a clip of her hearing for the first time which worked really well.
If your guest is up for talking about other topics that day, on occasion big names can stay on for up to 30 minutes to talk around the other topics as well as their dedicated slot.
They flash up the book cover on a big screen so it gets a good plug. ⅓ of their viewers are male – apparently they watch to get an insight into what women think?
They do need household names – someone they can trail really easily without too much explanation and introduction. They tend to ask for the first daytime show interview (this includes weekends), but they will follow evening shows and sometimes BBC Breakfast. Everything is done case by case though, so please check with them before ruling anything out.
They can do cookery authors, gardening, sporting legends, actors, music artists, well known TV personalities, celeb autobiographies and novels – but it does need to be people the average viewer has heard of, unless the personal angle is really strong. They really like the retro vibe – people who were big in the 70s and 80s.
Jo is contactable on email@example.com – she doesn’t work Thursdays but does occasionally check emails. She loves being phoned but not while they’re on air – so don’t call 11.45 – 1.30 as she won’t be able to pick up.
She likes to meet people to discuss, but hates when you’re deep in discussion and get quite far down the line, then they find out you’ve gone with someone else.
They can very occasionally pre-record for the right guest.
They have a pretty even gender split in terms of guests. For female guests they will occasionally ask them to be a guest panellist for the rest of the show, and sometimes to come back regularly. For the right name, someone who would fit in, please ask about guest panellist slot.
They might cover children’s authors as guests but only if they had a celeb status in their own right – eg David Walliams.
Their book club slot, Loose Books, started in March. Every month a panellist chooses a book, announces it, and then they discuss it the following month. All the panel has read it and they also send it to the whole studio audience. It is the PANELLISTS who choose the books, so although Jo loves suggestion (they do make up a longlist) Jo herself is not the final arbiter. Their first book was The Girl on the Train, picked by Coleen Nolan. It was obviously a bestseller already but when it was announced as a bookclub pick, there was a 30% uplift in sales , and when it was discussed, they saw around a 24% surge in sales. Other picks have included We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Us, and Jo Nesbo’s Blood on Snow, so quite a broad church. Potentially they might cover YA if it was truly crossover but it would depend if the panellists chose it. It’s got to be something that appeals to the audience ultimately.
They plan on Wednesday afternoons but they’re a small team so will discuss as and when.
In terms of viewing figures, they peak at 1.2m viewers daily (similar to This Morning and Lorraine), and have half a million online viewers (the show is on ITV player for a month).
Andrew Pugh – This Morning
Andrew unfortunately had to cancel, but sent the following very helpful notes. Questions are in roman, Andrew’s answers are in italics.
Who looks after forward planning? That would be me. Contact details:
Andrew Pugh | Newsdesk Journalist, This Morning
ITV plc 6th Floor/Studio 8
This Morning London Television Centre Upper Ground
London | SE1 9LT
Tel: 020 7157 4153 | Mob: 07554 416591 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Andrew_Pugh1
What authors do you prefer/definitely not looking for? We feature very little fiction, unless it’s written by a celebrity. In terms of non-fiction, however, we cover all kinds of subjects
How far ahead do you work? 6-9months ahead.
What time do you need authors and what can you cover in terms of costs? Authors need to be in by around 9.30am and we will cover all travel and accommodation costs.
In terms of exclusivity, who can you follow? We used to be happy to follow BBC Breakfast but that might be about to change with our new editor. We never follow Good Morning Britain or Loose Women. We’re usually happy to follow newspaper and radio.
Do authors have to be in the studio or can you do down the line? If they’re in the UK we won’t do down the line unless there are exceptional circumstances and they’re an exceptional author. We will do down the line for US writers.
Why should a PR pick you over another day time show? Well this is simple – more people watch us and we remain ITV’s flagship daytime show, and continue to outperform GMB, Lorraine, Loose Women etc. We also offer longer interview slots I believe and get more pick up on online news websites.
What coverage can you offer in terms of pack shots / plugs? We will name the book and hold it up. Will also mention on the website and social media etc (Facebook – 1m likes; Twitter: 11m followers).
How do you prefer to be approached? Email first followed by call to chase up if I haven’t responded!
Is there a best/worst time to call? Call anytime – if I can’t talk I won’t answer.
Do you like to meet publicists to go through catalogues? Yes, and I would like to do this more as it’s extremely helpful for planning. Please do get in touch!
What do PRs do that you love? Come up with interesting ways of featuring an author on the show. Such as thinking of possible phone-ins/stunts/demos we can do rather than just a straight sit-down interview.
Samantha McAlister – Newsnight
Samantha was also unable to attend in person, but sent the following notes:
Who looks after forward planning? We have a small team, but I am best point of contact. email@example.com
What authors do you prefer / definitely not looking for? We prefer high profile or celebrity authors — so anyone from Stilgitz via Zoella to Julia Gillard.
How far ahead do you work? As far as possible. Any long terms interviewees always very welcome – let us know as soon as you’re able!
What do you need in terms of exclusivity, and what can you offer in terms of cost? We like to be first TV/radio broadcast although will follow others in exceptional circumstances. The reason is because we dedicate a lot of time, effort, expertise, air time and cost to our guests, so like to make sure we maximise impact by being first. We sometimes go to authors in their homes, where it’s a relevant setting – eg Clive James, Philip Pullman, Jeremy Hutchinson QC – and will cover travel and hotel costs if relevant to the project
Why should a PR should pick you over another show? We are lucky enough to be able to get a lot of our material in the news bulletins, online and in the papers, so can maximise impact of projects. For example, with the victims of Ariel Castro we were able to do a 20 minute interview on Newsnight, an online piece, a YouTube version (around 400,000 viewers) a 30 minute ‘Our World’ and a documentary for BBC 4, so we can really maximise the impact of outstanding contributors across the entire network. We are also the most tweeted about news programme in the UK.
What kind of plug can you offer the contributers’ book? We always mention books in the introduction as a bare minimum.
What type of author/genre are you looking for? We are open to all genres that have a news or current affairs element.
How do you prefer to be approached? Email please! I don’t mind when you contact me at all.
Do you like to meet publicists in person / attend launch parties? Yes, absolutely delighted to.
What do publicists do that you love/hate? I love people who know the programme, love it, and want to work with us. I hate people who call but have clearly never watched Newsnight!