My Life in Media: Helen Terry

'Competition for performance slots is ferocious and I have to steer along a path that will please both the broadcaster and those of us who still love music'

Helen Terry, 51, is the executive producer of the Brits, the annual pop music award show. Terry's first taste of success was as a singer with Boy George in Culture Club and she later had several solo hits. She switched careers in her mid-thirties to work in television and refused to take part in Culture Club's 1998 reunion tour, having fallen out with George over his portrayal of her in his autobiography (the pair are reportedly friends again). Terry lives in Perthshire, spending four months of the year in London to make the Brits. This year's show, hosted by Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, will be broadcast live from London's Earls Court on ITV1, from 8pm on Wednesday.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I was inspired by what I wasn't seeing on television. I was ancient when I started my TV career so I absolutely knew what was wrong with music television and, having been on the receiving end of it in my former career, I thought that I could make a change for the better. Easier said than done at first, but I'm getting there these days.

When you were 15 years old which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

I was hardly ever in the house when I was 15 so I can't recall what my parents read, aside from the Maldon and Burnham Standard, our local newspaper, which I would read from cover to cover. I devoured my grandma's Cork Weekly Examiner, which I remember was required reading for all expatriate Irish Catholics at the time.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

I loved Civilization, those old school patrician broadcasters infused a passion for discovery in me. Schoolgirls in rural Essex didn't have much in the way of role models back then so my childhood path was 50 per cent swot, 50 per cent rock'*' roll. This did not go down too well at school but my wonderful parents just let me get on with things.

Describe your job?

Part Mystic Meg, part diplomat. I have to second guess the mood of the nation six months in advance and put together a show that either reflects this or acts as a diversion. Naturally I also have to figure out who might win the gongs and then mix it up with performers who are at the peak. Competition for performance slots is ferocious and so I have to steer the show along a course that will please both the broadcaster and those of us who still love music.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

I always log on to BBC news and then trawl through Popbitch and Holy Moly for a bit of sanity. Daily papers don't figure at all because they just make me angry.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

As above really. We get the New Statesman, New Scientist, Prospect and Private Eye at home and they keep me going.

What do you tune into when you get home?

I'm addicted to CSI and House. I'll tune into random programmes occasionally but it's either Five US or BBC4 who make some of the best music documentaries. I do love a good drama as well – Cranford was a wonderful example of an ensemble piece.

What is the best thing about your job?

My team. I rather treat my job like being in a band and so I take huge delight in working with a bunch of people who never cease to amaze me with their ability to get things done and to get them done well. It's the same sort of pride a singer has in having the best players in their band.

And the worst?

The commute. I live 500 miles from London so I have to leave home for four months, returning to sanity on the weekends.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Bringing extraordinary talent to the attention of a broader public and seeing it change their careers.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Far too many to mention.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

I do get The Observer, but only for Nigel Slater's marvellous food section. A good friend was a Sunday editor and so I know far too much about how the press works and how divisive they can be. I love Vanity Fair. Graydon Carter is an extraordinary editor and the standard of writing is superlative. I polish off most inferior magazines in about 20 minutes, but if I start reading VF at Kings Cross I'll just be finishing it whenthe train reaches Stirling.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I don't. The artists speak for themselves, I just do the maths and write the scripts.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire?

I've got a cinema release documentary up my sleeve, watch this space . . .

What would you do if you didn't work in the media?

I'd probably be a washed-up has-been singer by now. Television has rather saved my life.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Andrea Wonfor (the late managing director of Granada Television and producer of The Tube) was an inspirational figure. Never smug, always questioning and rarely averse to a good night out. The perfect balance. Germaine Greer is also up there because she is utterly unafraid to take on the sacred cows and few can match her erudition.

The CV

1974 Abandons educationin favour of random employment including work as a performance artist, comic synopsis writer and singing teacher
1981 Becomes a member of Culture Club alongside Boy George
1985 Leaves the band to launch a successful solo career
1990 Moves into television as a researcher on Saturday morning children's TV
1992 Begins making documentaries including an Omnibus on Creation Records founder Alan McGee and Collectors with Damien Hirst for BBC2
2001 Joins the team behind the Brit Awards as the show's music producer
2005 Appointed the show's executive producer

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising

Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Programmatic Business Development Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Dev...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Trainee Recruitment C...

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past