News and events archive 2004 - 2013


University of Leicester graduate lands a place on BBC production scheme

A former University of Leicester graduate has been given a rare opportunity to learn from the best in British broadcasting thanks to the BBC Production Trainee Scheme.

Issued on 15 September

William Smith beat more than 3000 applicants to secure a place on the training scheme, renowned as the gold standard in an industry populated by its former recruits.

After a six year absence the scheme that kick-started the career of BBC Director General Mark Thompson has made a welcome return by offering 19 trainees 18 months of face-to-face training, online learning and placements on real programmes and projects in TV, radio and new media.

On their initial placements William and the other trainees could find themselves in Glasgow, Belfast, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh or Bristol, working across networks from BBC One to the Asian Network, on programmes from Blue Peter to Woman’s Hour.

William, 21, graduated from the University of Leicester in 2008 with a degree in Business and Management, but describes the media as his first love. Whilst at university William developed ‘Willis’s Newscast’, a weekly sketch show on his ‘My Space’ webpage which received more than 30,000 hits, and prompted an interview request from BBC Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood. He took further steps into the media industry working as a part-time stand up comic. William’s talent and passion for comedy even secured him a spot as a warm up act for internationally renowned celebrity comic and Hollywood star, Chris Rock.

But it was a chance meeting with a BBC employee, at the Leicester Comedy Festival, which finally got the ball rolling for his career in Production.

William said: “I met someone from the BBC at the festival who encouraged me to apply for work experience at the BBC, which I did successfully. I was in the studio one day when I saw the advert for the Production Trainee Scheme, so I applied for it. I always knew I wasn’t cut out for a normal 9-5 office job. In the very early stages of the selection process I didn’t realise how competitive the scheme was. It was only later I found out that I had beat more than 3000 people to get a place. When I got the final call saying I was through I thought it was someone playing a joke. I’m just so pleased and really excited at the moment. Most people have to wait a while before they find something after graduating but I’ve been incredibly lucky to get the breaks I have!”

Former trainee and BBC Director General Mark Thompson said: “The Production Trainee Scheme is incredibly important to the BBC, helping us find outstanding talent to become the content makers and commissioners of the future. It is the first time we've run such a scheme in 6 years and the 19 successful candidates are from thousands of applicants. As a former BBC trainee myself, I truly believe the experience the trainees will get is the best in the industry.” William and the other trainees will officially start the scheme on Monday September 8.


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