Arts Emergency

Colin Anderson

BBC Radio Comedy Producer

I began my career in comedy as a pharmacy student at Manchester University, running club nights and writing sketches for Radio 4 comedy show The In Crowd.

I’d picked pharmacy because I was worried about not being able to get a job when I graduated if I didn’t do a vocational degree. I didn’t know anyone who worked in the media and it didn’t seem like a career path open to me.

Through my comedy circuit experience and contacts I was hired by the BBC to help develop some new radio comedy shows to be made in Manchester. When that contract was up I did a month of unpaid work experience in my university holidays.

As a student I lived in a house full of arts students and was constantly jealous of the selection of courses they had to choose from and days spent reading great books for their courses.

As I started to get more freelance work from the BBC I realised that a pharmacy degree wasn’t going help me get the kind of career I finally realised I wanted, so I switched to a Combined Studies degree in the faculty of arts.

After uni I joined the BBC’s Programme Making Trainee scheme, training in TV, radio and online production before specializing in radio comedy. This traineeship gave me fantastic technical training and established me in a network of contacts that are still useful to me more than ten years later.

I’ve been a staff producer in BBC Radio Comedy since 2004, making series including The Now Show, Stephen K Amos’ Life: An Idiot’s Guide and Josie Long’s All of the Planet’s Wonders (Shown in Detail).

Getting what has to be one of the most fun jobs in the world has taken several lucky breaks, born of a passion for comedy, contacts made on the comedy circuit, days spent filling out online job application forms, many failed interviews and an ability to work for free for weeks at a time.

It’s incredibly difficult to get into, but it’s shown me that whatever you love doing the most, music, comedy, computer games, somewhere there’s somebody doing that as a job. And I don’t think careers teachers tell people that.