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Catherine Bolton

Assistant Producer - ITV and BBC

BA (Hons) Media and Drama

Catherine Bolton

I’ve worked on over 20 different TV shows...from dating and game shows to singing, reality and talent shows.

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after college. I was passionate about media and drama, so I decided to have the best of both worlds.

I’ve always wanted to get into TV or radio. I used to be in all the school performances and loved being part of productions. When I realised I couldn’t sing I soon changed to performing. Alongside my studies, I volunteered as a radio presenter for The Community Radio Station – Salford City Radio, and I presented a weekly show on the University Radio Station, back when it was called L:39, along with my best friend Colleen. That was lots of fun, searching for new and upcoming bands and artists to play on the show. We used to say we were the new Holly [Willoughby] and Fearne [Cotton]. We’re still best friends, 10 years later.

Uni had great structure. A lot of time management, keeping to a busy schedule. I learnt a lot of interesting things, stuff you wouldn’t necessarily learn if you’d gone straight into a job. You also make friends for life.

We did lots of fancy dress at Uni. One of my best friends from high school would throw me a party every year, and it always consisted of fancy dress: 101 Dalmatians, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Geeks, Mr Men and Little Misses. For my 21st we all dressed up as Where’s Wally?, or we called it ‘Where’s Catherine?’ I miss fancy dress nights. We used to end up most nights in Alpine – hugging the bear after far too many shots.

I miss spending every day with friends. Whether in the library till 2am finishing an assignment, or in the clubs till 2am. I miss just being able to hang around the Edge Hill campus – such a nice place, and lots of great facilities.

I’ve worked on over 20 different TV shows. They range from dating and game shows to singing, reality and talent shows: The Voice Kids (ITV), Fame in The Family (Channel 4), The Circle, (Channel 4), Lingo (ITV), Naked Attraction (Channel 4), Dress To Impress (ITV2), and Judge Rinder (ITV).

I love finding new talent and great characters. I’m currently an assistant producer, searching for talented singers across the UK on the second series of ITV’s Starstruck. I find people that are right for the show, auditioning them, and cutting casting tapes, before pitching them to TV commissioners. When selected, I’ll look after them ahead of studio and filming days.

My most recent project is BBC’s Share Your Story, part of this year’s BBC centenary celebrations. This involved taking celebrities such as Dan Walker, Scarlett Moffatt and Laura Kuenssberg into schools, to ‘share their story’ of how they got to where they are today. Not only did they discuss how they got their jobs, but also told them about the struggles and barriers they came up against along the way, like bullying, online trolling and rejection.

The stories of schoolchildren were so personal and powerful. They were encouraged to be part of the ‘BBC Young Reporter’ project, aimed at 11-18 year olds, with Q&A sessions designed to help children find out about getting into the industry.

I always knew I wanted to be involved in TV production, I just wasn’t sure on which side of the screen. That’s why I chose the joint degree of Drama and Media. I did lots of work as a TV extra on my days off studying. Shows like Hollyoaks, Shameless, Cilla, and Fresh Meat.

But I now love being behind the camera rather than in front. Seeing people I’ve cast on a show go on to win/perform and appear on TV is a great feeling, really rewarding. And I get to meet lots of amazing people, and celebrities along the way. Every day is so different.

I’ve been an assistant producer for over two years now, and love my job. I know not many people can say that. My next step is to become a TV producer, then one day who knows? Maybe a series producer/exec. The contracts can be short, sometimes 3-6 months, meaning you never know where or when your next job will be, but I love making great TV shows, and seeing my name come up in the credits at the end of a show is an amazing feeling.

It’s nice to switch off after a day of staring at a screen. It’s nice to get your head in a book and to be invested in another world. I’m reading the Jojo Moyes books: Me Before You and After You. My New Year resolution was to read a new book a month.

Instagram’s really useful in my TV career. I use it every to find new talent and amazing people. It’s also a way of keeping up-to-date with all my family and friends. I actually have three accounts: my personal page; my TV casting page; and my house renovation page. Me and my partner bought our house in 2019 and have done a full renovation from top to bottom. So I keep all my ‘tap to tidy’ and ‘before and after’ shots on there.

University can open so many doors. Even if you don’t know now what you want to do, it gives you an insight into the ‘real world’. Having a drama degree on your CV shows you’ve taken the time to work for something. And you make friends and connections for life.