Britain’s Ron Carroll on passion for television and advice for newcomers

It seems Britain’s Ron Carroll has always known what he was destined to do in life. As a child in Liverpool, he used to play newsrooms in his bedroom, obsessed with typewriters and tape recorders. Even at that young age, the idea of being a journalist and creating compelling stories for the world excited him. When he finished university, he never felt lost the way so many do, wondering what their next move was. He knew he was going to be a writer, and quickly got his first job working for a newspaper.

Now, as a showrunner and development producer, Ron’s passion for detailed and accurate storytelling is seen on a grand scale. He traded in a pen and notebook for scripts and sets and has never looked back. Once his career in print journalism had taken off, he began wondering what else he could sink his teeth into. Television became the obvious next step.

The transition started when Ron was working as a senior producer on US talk shows. He went back to work in Britain for a while and got a really interesting opportunity, which came to him the moment he stepped off the plane. Sky TV, one of the UK’s largest networks, was launching a new daytime television show. It was live with phone-ins. They asked Ron to develop the format for the show and produce it, and that really put him on the career path he is on today, an industry leader in his country, developing new formats and launching new TV and Digital projects.

“It may not be everyone’s dream job, but it was one of mine. I loved producing talk shows. I still do, if I get the opportunity. Nothing is better than writing a funny line for the host or having a guest share a story and getting an immediate reaction from a live audience,” said Ron. “I get to meet all kinds of people. I have interviewed A-list celebrities, got to produce shows that make life-changing dreams come true for people, and in some small ways made a difference.”

Audiences all around the world have enjoyed Ron’s shows, whether binge-watching Blown Away on Netflix or waiting each week for the newest episode of Canada’s Next Top Model or Game of Homes. Ron knows how to tell a good story, and his roots in journalism only fuel his passion for reality television.

“When I am developing a new show, whether it’s my own idea or it belongs to a production company that hires me to help bring it to life, I am very guttural about it. Over-thinking can be the curse of death. I have witnessed great show ideas get grinded to a pulp because producers over-think. I always say know what you like and make the shows you love. I like to produce shows that have heart, humor and hope. Shows that genuinely make a difference to people’s lives, which is why producing Undercover Boss was so rewarding. At the end of the day, I am a viewer first and a producer second,” he said.

Ron has developed a “3-H formula” based on his success: Heart, Humor and Hope. These characteristics are always at the forefront of whatever he produces. When he looks back on his career, he has had many highlights, but it is making a real difference through his work that fuels him.

“I was the lead story producer on an ITV show that aired live across Britain on Christmas Day, and I had people in tears on both sides of the camera because of surprise reunions, uniting families across the globe. Well-crafted shows should connect with viewers in real and tangible ways,” he said.

So what’s next for this industry titan? Ron has several new shows that are at various stages of development, including the community-uniting format “The Tree” that he is very excited about. He also has several other shows in the works, in conjunction with collaborators, which include an exciting new design competition format, a reno series, and a fun food competition show. In addition, he has a strong and growing reputation as a content consultant. He is in increasing demand, working with production companies in the US, Canada and the UK, helping trouble-shoot their shows and help devise formats, pilots and presentations for both TV and Digital platforms. For those looking to follow in his footsteps, he offers some wise words:

“It worries me that so many people seem to leave media courses and not know how to apply for a job.  That’s a problem and they are being disserviced by colleges and universities. Know what you want and network. That’s code for pick up the phone and write emails to heads of departments. CC-in Human Resources if they have them but don’t rely on HR. Reach out and ask for meetings directly with frontline creatives. You have to be bold and tenacious. It’s a tough business and breaking into it is more competitive than ever. Some people will love you and some people won’t, because they don’t get you. There will be times when doors won’t open and you’ll get career-blocked. But, generally, if you don’t have too big an ego and you are willing to listen and learn and work hard, you will be welcomed with open arms, across all departments. And when you finally get to break into the industry, don’t work for free or at a reduced rate. Know your worth. Every time someone works for free or at a reduced rate, they devalue the industry they want to be part of,” he advised.

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