Made in Exeter

Benjamin Dale graduated with a BA in French and Spanish in 2015 and currently works as a Researcher for Made in Chelsea at Monkey Kingdom

Benjamin Dale, Exeter alumn and current Researcher for Made in Chelsea.

Once I graduated from the University of Exeter, I initially started work in the advertising industry. I was keen to work in a creative environment and realised though I may not be the person to come up with the ideas, I may well enjoy being a part of the process to refine and bring these to life. I started at an independent agency named Mother, before moving to a network agency Leo Burnett.

I concluded that in fact it was the production-side of advertising where I felt most engrossed. One of my biggest passions, among music and film, is television. I therefore decided I would try my hand in the world of TV production, marrying my interest and the element of advertising I had enjoyed the most.

“The industry is all about reputation, and therefore working as a team player, always being inquisitive and being a reliable pair of hands is crucial.”

It is commonplace knowledge in the TV industry that no matter your age or previous career experience, you start at the bottom of the ladder as a production runner. This is likewise something which everyone recommends; it provides the opportunity to see how the full production and crew teams operate as entities and gives one the insight into several varying aspects of the industry. It almost acts as a training ground, though admittedly much of the job role can be spent making cups of tea! Just a reality of the industry and the role of being a runner that I had to not only accept, but do so willingly without complaint. It is a position in which it is less about your level of responsibility that matters, but rather your level to take on jobs no matter how big or small and make the best impression possible. And do it all with grace and a smile on your face, looking for where you can add value in other areas beyond simply the job description. The industry is all about reputation, and therefore working as a team player, always being inquisitive and being a reliable pair of hands is crucial. I started as a runner on Gogglebox in February 2018 for a full series of the show. I then worked as a casting researcher for the show over the summer months before taking on the role as researcher on the latest series which ended in December. Currently I am working at a company named Monkey Kingdom for the show Made in Chelsea.

Though a university degree is not essential for gaining experience in the industry, I am thankful for having studied languages. The skills gained have been invaluable to me in both industries I have worked in; from clear communication and presentation skills through to applying my knowledge of the culture and languages themselves in adaptations of advertising campaigns or TV production shoots abroad. I have found myself surprised even in recent months of where my ability to speak a language has massively benefited a team.

“…I am thankful for having studied languages. The skills gained have been invaluable to me in both industries I have worked in; from clear communication and presentation skills through to applying my knowledge of the culture and languages themselves in adaptations of advertising campaigns or TV production shoots abroad.”

In terms of skills necessary to succeed in the industry, I would say an ability to think on your feet – a skill definitely taught in languages – is important. On a regular basis something can go awry on location for a shoot, from cast arriving late and causing delays to a filming schedule, through to equipment not functioning as it should. A good producer will always think quickly and succinctly of a way to make up the time and communicate this to their manager above, or work around malfunctions. Likewise, being inquisitive in other people and showing an interest in their lives is fundamental to success in reality television. Contributors, or cast, of a show will not always readily open up in ways you hope, and therefore it will be a good producer who sets them at ease, briefs them correctly for the filming ahead and draws out nuggets of information which can help inform content of the show.

Each day is incredibly varied in television; I would say it is rare to ever have exactly the same day twice. This is due to the nature of the industry and how each week (or day) you will be working towards the filming of something different to the last. I enjoy this immensely as never typically find myself staring at the clock towards midday wishing the working day would be over! The industry is freelance-based too, meaning once one series is finished filming, you then move onto typically something different. It can feel daunting to not have total stability in a normal company structure with a permanent contract job, however being someone who welcomes change, this brings excitement; again, meaning you never really feel a sense of repetition in what work can bring.

As I have hopefully outlined above, this is an exciting industry offering much variety. One day I hope to move from being a researcher to become a lead series producer, still working in my biggest passion area TV.

It’s Never Too Late… helps final-year Humanities students get that extra level of support during their final year of studies and aims to empower them to feel ready to tackle life after university with help from successful Exeter alumni, and showcasing opportunities including those from the Career Zone. If you have any questions about the campaign please do email