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Photo showing Emma Hoskyns, ITV producer behind the Royal Wedding 2018, in Caroline Gibson's blog on what creativity means to her

What Does Creativity Mean To You: The TV Producer (Royal Wedding)

As Head of Special Events for ITV News at ITN, Emma Hoskyns was in charge of the ITV coverage of Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s royal wedding.

Emma has been responsible for ITV coverage of key political and historical events including the EU Referendum, the last US presidential election, the Queen’s diamond jubilee and Christmas broadcasts, and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Photo showing Emma Hoskyns, ITV producer behind the Royal Wedding 2018, in Caroline Gibson's blog on what creativity means to her

CG: Why do you do what you do now?
EH: I started off at ITN as a Foreign Desk Assistant about 25 years ago. (Cut me in half: it says ITN all the way through!) I eventually became a News Editor and started planning campaigns that needed a much longer lead-in time, which evolved into a department of its own doing special commissions and live programming. That was around the time of the last Royal wedding in 2011.

CG: There must be a large number of protocols to follow, so how much creative freedom do you have?
EH: It’s essentially news around an event that’s happening: the creativity comes from how you interpret that event, tell that true story and engage your audience.

Working with the Royal household involves a lot of protocols but they understand that, when something is being televised, they need our experience and expertise so we work together as a team.

The couple wanted to do their thing, but also wanted everyone around the country and around the world to feel included too. We worked with the Royal household and the various agencies involved to help stage the event so that it would work for television and be as engaging and inclusive as possible. As it was also a personal wedding, you had to get a balance.

You want your audience to feel that watching the Royal wedding is better than being there, and that you’re telling them everything they need to know. So how do you tell that story?  Who will present it and communicate the right tone – in this case, one of celebration? Where should you put your studio for the presentation – far away or as close to the crowds as possible to communicate an atmosphere?

CG: What advice did you give the royal couple?
EH: It was on aspects such as what route the procession would take – taking a longer route included as many spectators as possible but made it much more complicated to cover. We spent quite a long time talking to the Royal household and the military about the timings of when the troops would march out.  The military had originally planned to do so while the procession was still going on up The Long Walk in Windsor, which meant no one would have seen those pictures on TV.

We broadcast some lovely pictures and could talk about the significance of different regiments and individuals who had taken part. A lot of viewers said how much they enjoyed that because you want to watch the spectacle but also understand why certain people are taking part and the significance of which horse has been chosen to draw the carriage etc., etc.  You have to choreograph that all quite carefully.

CG: You weren’t the only broadcaster covering the Royal wedding: did you have to be creative in thinking how to stand out to ensure bigger ratings?
EH: It’s competitive but in quite a good way, as it makes us all raise the bar. We collaborate a lot on the actual coverage of the core picture because you can’t have three sets of cameras inside the chapel.

You have to think quite carefully about the voices that you want. For example, we had a military commentator, Bill Cubitt (Major General Sir William George Cubitt, KCVO, CBE) talking about the troops, whereas the BBC decided not to focus on that aspect.  We felt that was an important part of Prince Harry’s story.

Creatively, we sometimes choose to go in slightly different directions editorially.  But a wedding’s a wedding … so as long as it’s happy, then you’ve done your job!

CG: Have technology changes given you more creative freedom?
EH: Yes, because it’s transitioning.  We did a lot more IP than we’d done before, which created more complexity but actually worked really well because you can bring in more video paths giving more creative freedom, more mixing options and more communication paths so that more people can talk to each other, rather than everyone being rather restricted to one kind of mixed feed.

CG: Of all the events you’ve worked on, is there a highlight?
EH: They’re all very significant events that people talk about, so hard to pick one out as particularly special.  Whether it’s another election or another royal wedding, the story is always different. So although you think your previous one was your highlight, the next one takes up possibly six months to a year of your life and it becomes another really important part of your career.

Being creative is not about money or how many people you have; it’s about understanding the story that you’re telling.

CG: Define what creativity means to you
EH: ITV News is more streamlined than the other organisations and therefore we have to be more fleet of foot and more creative in how we do anything. We have fewer people and our newsrooms are smaller, but we punch well above our weight.

The challenge is to achieve what we want to do and tell our story in the most innovative and engaging way that people will want to watch – and to educate, inform and entertain.  And I absolutely love doing that.

Written by Caroline Gibson, freelance copywriter, as the second of a series of blogs on what creativity means to people blazing the way in their particular field. Read the first one about composer Simon Slater here.

E: caroline@carolinegibson.co.uk T: +44 7957 567766

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