What it takes to become Head of Compliance
The Compliance department is based across London, Leeds and Manchester and is made up of Compliance Advisors, Programme Lawyers and Negative Checkers. We all come from different work backgrounds, from teams in ITV and the wider industry. The knowledge and experience they bring with them adds great value and expertise to the team.
I joined Compliance from Transmission, who’re responsible for getting our programmes on air. I worked in Transmission from 1982, when the vision and sound mixing was done manually and, like PAs, we timed everything with a stopwatch. Today, the Northern Transmission Centre (NTC) in Leeds is more like the Starship Enterprise than our vintage control room.
Working in Transmission called for dexterity, decision-making and holding your nerve. The skills drilled into me still help in my job today. In the late 80s (it really doesn’t seem so that long ago) I was lucky enough to go on a month-long secondment to Floor Managing, something I’d always longed to do. It was a wonderful experience, working on our big drama at the time, The Contract. But all that standing on hard studio floors and sheltering from the rain on a shoot wasn't for me. I stayed in Transmission, toasty and warm and watching telly, for another twelve years.
After the merger with LWT my role changed to Commissioned Compliance. I went on to become Head of Compliance for the Drama genre. All commissioned and independent drama productions come through my team, including our Continuing Dramas. We have a very close relationship with the teams, so that we can make sure productions are up to speed on Ofcom guidelines and they know what is appropriate to broadcast.
There are very strict commercial rules associated with Compliance that productions must be aware of and abide by. Ironically, a pre-watershed slot can be harder to comply than a post watershed. I’m complying The (fabulous) Durrells at the moment. As it broadcasts at eight o’clock, we’ve carefully navigated the writer’s racy chat and mild swearing while maintaining generally accepted standards. After nine, the material can become more adult in nature.
Some productions swear us to secrecy. I’d never give away a plot but with Broadchurch and Downton, we couldn’t if we wanted to. What I can tell you is I'm complying Cold Feet at the minute, and I’ve laughed and cried as much as I did fifteen years ago. Coming up, Victoria is witty and beautiful, Broadchurch gripping, and the vicar still gets his kit off in Grantchester!
My team and I know how lucky we are to do this job. If you're enthusiastic and communicative, love great telly - and can bring something special to the party - you should seek us out.