There’s No Business Like Show Business – My Week At BANG Showbiz

It was over, kaput! No more mulled wine, Bing Crosby or endless watching of the station that appears around October – ‘Christmas 24’. January was literally here with a BANG. My flight from Guernsey was delayed and I arrived back in London to serious rain and mist. It was clear, I “wasn’t in Kansas anymore”.

Image
Photo of Rainy London by Robin on Flickr

There was no hot water in my flat and my brolly blew inside out on the walk home. Carrie Bradshaw? I think not. Still, there is something romantic about the topsy-turvy, random, hustle and bustle of London and despite these initial setbacks, I was glad to be back in the city. It’s a love affair that won’t fade despite the wet weather.

The thought of waking up at 7am again was somewhat terrifying. But I had something to look forward to – a week of work experience at BANG Showbiz!! I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out I had a placement. I have a weakness for celebrity news like many twenty something gals about town. I enjoy it and while I love writing about topics such as feminism, history or literature – I still get a buzz from a cheeky Mail Online session. Sorry, I’m not sorry. Who wants to be serious all the time? You need a bit of sugar with the salt I say.

BANG is the world’s premier entertainment news agency providing the most exciting celebrity news to online, print and broadcast media outlets across the globe. As the website states: “If BANG isn’t running a story it isn’t worth knowing”. Safe to say I was a little bit nervous.

BANG was established in 1997 by Fleet Street showbiz columnist Rick Sky – who was entertainment editor on The Sun, Mirror and Daily Star – to serve the UK and world media with entertainment stories.

Rick was one of the first people to write a showbiz gossip column and was a pioneer of the field in the 80s. He gave me a good piece of advice while I was there. “When you are thinking of your first line for a story, imagine it’s the first thing you’re going to say to someone in the pub”. Basically – don’t be boring! This is a far cry from my more conventional Masters training which teaches you to get the ‘what’ ‘where’ ‘who’ ‘why’ ‘when’ and ‘how’ in the first few lines. Then again, journalism comes in all forms.

Monday morning came quickly and I set off on the tube. I got to the Kentish Town office early to find the building and thus avoid any embarrassing lateness. Having been directed by Google maps, I was somewhat bemused to find what appeared to be an abandoned building. There were no signs of life.

In a slight panic I called Kate, the Beauty Editor and she appeared like a mirage around the corner. “You have to go in the back”, I was told. “Ahh I see”. That thought did cross my mind but I have seen way too many horror movies to think creeping around unfamiliar buildings was ever going to be good idea. We came in through the kitchen and I wondered what I had let myself in for… I couldn’t see any journalists.

But it wasn’t long. We entered the busy sales area through the next door, then came the groups of journalists working on the UK, Japanese, Brazilian and German hubs. They were all frantically typing and fishing through piles of magazines. Don’t expect the slick, polished office from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. The BANG office is shabby-chic, but I liked its low key vibe. The people were also very welcoming. It was definitely one of the friendliest offices I have worked in.

Maybe that’s because everyone has their niche? I was sat between the Managing Editor (Phil) and the TV Editor (James). Further down was the Fashion and Beauty Editor (Kate), Film Editor (Tuffy) and the Music Editor (Katie). There was also another young journalist on work experience, Hannah Wales.

I was quickly thrown into work and had to do a few tests. I was asked to turn a three page Liam Gallagher interview transcript into 4 stories in an hour using the house style. As Radio 1 pulsed along in the background and everyone sang along to Beyonce, I felt sure I had this down. You couldn’t top the upbeat atmosphere.

I was then tested on sourcing news stories from Twitter. Thank god I got Twitter a few months ago! Phew. The first day was hard work but if you have an eye for a story and know your entertainment news well, you’re 80% there. Before the day was through, James popped off to ‘The Voice’ press conference and gave us the low down on Tom Jones, Will-i-am, Kylie Minogue and Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs. Not bad for a 9-5. I had survived my first day and I loved it!

Tuesday arrived. I had got the hang of the journey. I even had time to drink a mint tea in ‘Pret A Manger’ and have a quick flick through  ‘Time Out’. Maybe I can be Carrie Bradhsaw after all?! All I need now is a pair of Manolos.  I walked into the office, round the back this time, there was no fooling me that day.

Image
My walk to the tube. Photo: My Own
Image
Photo: My Own

As soon as I walked through the door Kate asked me: “Are you free tonight, I need a massive favour?”

Turns out I was free and I was intrigued. “We need you to cover a red carpet event” she said.

“YES of course I can do that” I almost shouted. Who could turn down such a great offer? I set to work researching the celebrities I had to try and interview. I was to cover the VIP red carpet launch of Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Quidam’. I learnt how to use a Dictaphone, a simple thing I know, but I wanted to get it right.  Also, my track record with technology isn’t great. I am getting better though! I wrote a few more stories during the day and when 5 o’clock came around I hit the road.

I headed excitedly to the Royal Albert Hall. I collected my press sticker and entered the ‘pen’ (those metal cages where journalists are packed in like sardines to cover events). It was bloody freezing but I got chatting with other journalists and there was a fantastic buzz.

At last, the moment I had been waiting for! My first interviewee was brought up  by her PR team. It was Kelly Hoppen, one of the infamous ‘Dragons’ from BBC’s ‘Dragons’ Den’ and an accomplished interior designer. Next came Beth Tweddle, three time Olympian and current ‘Dancing on Ice’ contestant. My article on Beth was published on  The List, Female First, Virgin Media, IMDB and TV3. At first I couldn’t understand why some of the pieces had other people’s bylines, but of course BANG is an agency. Their various media clients pay them a great deal of money to use stories as their own. Most will credit the agency in the article however. Beth was a lovely girl and really chatty with the journos, which surprised me. I then chatted to Tamera Foster from the The ‘X Factor’ and Craig Revel Horwood from ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

Image
Tamera Foster just after our interview. Photo: My Own

I then spoke to WAG and former Miss England Danielle O’Hara, who is taking part in the current ‘Splash’ series. My article on her was published in The Sun, on TV Guide, IMDB, Sunday World, Female First, News Dump, TV 3, The Ashbourne News Telegraph, The Hertfordshire Mercury and Cambridge News. I then spoke with recent ‘I’m A Celeb’ contestant David Emanuel who became famous for designing Princess Diana’s wedding dress. He told me my hands were absolutely freezing and that I should get by a warm fire… Bless! Such a lovely guy!

I spoke with ‘Only Fools and Horses’ legend David Jason and former Miss Universe contestant Amy Willerton. You’ll know her as the blonde bombshell who caused controversy whilst taking part in last year’s ‘I’m A Celeb’. She was absolutely stunning but seemed like a rabbit caught in the headlights, something I found quite endearing. My articles on Amy were published on The List, Female First, TV Guide, Silobreaker, IMDB, Virgin Media, TV 3, Breaking News and The Irish Examiner.

Image
Amy Willerton just after our interview. Photo: My Own

I spent the next few days transcribing my interviews and coming up with stories. I also transcribed an Ed Sheeran interview. And this was supposed to be work!? I definitely wasn’t complaining.  On my last day I was transcribing interviews from ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ premiere, where Tuffy got to meet Leo DiCaprio!! Swoon…

Suddenly, it was 5pm on Friday and it was time to leave behind the whirlwind of show business. I’m still exploring my options, but it was an eye opening and fantastic week. I learnt that you need to snap up opportunities when they come around, your writing can never be too ‘sexy’ and that you should have faith in your abilities. Also, include yourself when you are on work experience. There is no point sitting in the corner being quiet. Smile and get to know people. You may even make some new friends!
Thank-you to everyone at BANG who made it such a great week.

As Irving Berlin wrote: “There’s no business like show business”.

5 thoughts on “There’s No Business Like Show Business – My Week At BANG Showbiz

  1. Thank you for my mention and the link to my blog! That’s very nice of you. I love your piece and I agree with everything. I wish I knew where my stories were used- how did you find that out?

  2. Hey, I’ve just secured a placement with BANG, reading you article was really helpful and reassuring. What would your advice be to someone going into the placement like you were a few years ago? Thanks, this is a great read x

    1. Hi Jade,

      Great news! When do you start? I’ve put a few tips/pieces of advice in the article but the main thing to remember is just to show you are willing to work, be confident and smile. Also – never be late and never turn down an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. I did that placement a few years ago so things may have changed at Bang but I remember it as a busy, fun week. Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions about working in journalism more generally.

      Jessy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *