Wingspan Productions, programme research

Posted on 10 September 2013

Throughout my internship with Wingspan Productions, I carried out research for their upcoming new series, Ian Hislop’s Olden Days – The Power of the Past.

The programme I was working on looks at the different ways King Alfred and King Arthur have been perceived throughout history.  I was set tasks over the two-week period to find and research material for the script as well as looking into possible locations or artefacts that could be used in the programme. I learnt how historical research is carried out for television programmes. It has a much faster pace than I had anticipated. This is necessary as they need to assess how well certain elements will work in the programme or whether they should be left out of the script. With this, I learnt that with this small time scale, the team have to prioritise certain elements or cut whole areas of research for the timings. My research will therefore be used for the scripting of this programme, though they will only use a small portion of all the work I did.

Possibly the most enjoyable aspect of this internship was finding out some of the bizarre stories within history to add to the script. The most challenging part however, was having to deal with the sparsity of literature available to me to find answers to some of their questions. This lack of literature often meant that either their 'facts' were dubious or that the team would need more specialist help.

Though this internship will be used towards my MA dissertation, I also wanted to gain some experience in film/television historical research as I hope to pursue this as a career after my degree. From the internship I have learnt to work on a much tighter time scale. I had to make sure I concentrated on only the most relevant literature I could find so as to not waste time. This is crucial if I wish to pursue a career in this field. I would have liked to have been more involved with how the script was shaped, but this was not possible as I was working remotely and only able to communicate by phone or e-mail with the team.

As a result of this internship, I have learnt that, should I pursue this career path, how research is moulded for television and film. The internship has given me the first hand experience I needed to gauge whether or not I would like a career in this field, which is important to me in thinking about my direction after my degree, and I have been able to discover that I do enjoy this area of work. It showed me that, though I have strong research skills, I needed to learn how to have confidence in this research and find ways of communicating it as effectively as possible. Overall, this internship has firstly aided my dissertation research and secondly given me experience for a career in this field after my degree.

Sophie Vorah

Sophie Vohra

MA Public History
IPUP Intern