My Life In Media: Tess Alps

I'm able to say: 'I have to go home now to do some work' and then spend the evening watching telly while feeling virtuous

Tess Alps is the chief executive of Thinkbox, the UK's marketing body for commercial broadcasters. She dabbled in theatre before pursuing a career in TV sales, and her broadcast career has now spanned almost three decades. Last year, she left media agency PHD to head up Thinkbox, where she is now gearing up for this month's Experience 2007 event at London's Roundhouse.

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

Inspiration only came into it after about five years; I fell into media by mistake, but eventually found it was great fun and I was OK at it.

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

The Retford Times was the most important newspaper in the house. Of course, I read it. How else would I have known what was showing at the Majestic or which of the naughty girls at school had given birth to their illegally conceived babies?

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Back then I loved things like The Avengers and The Prisoner, as well as slightly girlier things like The Monkees. I had a crush on Peter Tork. I loved BBC radio comedies like The Navy Lark and Round The Horne.

Describe your job

I have the best job in the world, helping customers of commercial TV to get more out of it. So my job is best described as promoting TV, in all its forms, but from a completely impartial and, hopefully, well-informed position.

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

Not TV strangely, though everyone else in the house is watching either Everybody Loves Raymond, Dexter's Laboratory on Cartoon Network or MythBusters on Discovery. I hate mornings so I need total silence. I do glance at my BlackBerry, and in the car I sometimes listen to Radio 4 or 3 or maybe Classic FM.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Constantly. Information, research and insight are the tools of my trade and I couldn't operate without a whole slew of broadcast TV channels, media websites and e-mail alerts.

What is the best thing about your job?

Being able to say: "I have to go home now to do some work" and then spend the evening watching telly while feeling virtuous.

And the worst?

I spend a lot of time saying similar things to a lot of different people so I worry that I might repeat myself occasionally. The shame! And I get anxious that I might be repetitive.

How do you feel you influence the media?

Hardly at all. But I have always tried to get TV producers and broadcasters and advertisers to understand each other better and to realise that they share many of the same ambitions. Advertisers don't just want numbers, they also want passionate engagement and involvement from viewers. And producers also like their work being seen by as many people as possible.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Cringe time! Well, in my last job, at PHD, I hope I helped the agency stay true to itself and its founding principles while achieving success. But in about a month I hope I'll be saying that the Thinkbox Experience [on 27 February] was the best advertising industry event that anyone has ever staged. Hubris, of course.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

How long have you got? I once went up to a bloke at a party and asked him, "Why do people call (name of wife) the Whore of Babylon?" I am sometimes very naïve and always accident-prone.

At home, what do you tune in to?

I watch lots of TV of all sorts professionally. But for personal pleasure I choose impeccable British drama like Prime Suspect, Shameless or Longford, quirky British comedy like Green Wing, The Mighty Boosh or Peep Show, classy imports like Curb Your Enthusiasm, 24 or House, and family fun like The Simpsons, Brainiac, Dancing on Ice and anything with Ant and Dec who are utter geniuses. Plus operas and gardening. I never sleep.

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

We always buy The Observer and I like its monthly food magazine very much. I don't read many mags but love the few I do, such as Private Eye, Gardens Illustrated and Country Life. I actually read those articles about making church bell ropes and the like.

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

To end the destructive and utterly false TV-versus-internet paradigm that seems to have taken root in some journalists' brains.

If you didn't work in the media what would you do?

Ballet dancing.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

I don't approve of adulation, but I have genuine admiration for Michael Grade's passion for creativity, his energy, humour and humanity, and I would have said that even if he was still at the BBC. I think David Attenborough is pretty cool too.

The cv

1978 Joins ITV after an English degree and theatre school, holding various positions in the regions

1986 Becomes the sales controller of Television South West

1989 Moves to Yorkshire and Tyne Tees TV as sales director

1992 Joins independent media agency PHD as its first broadcast director

1996 Sets up Drum PHD, specialising in sponsorship and editorial marketing

2000 Appointed deputy chairman of PHD Group UK, then chairman in 2003

2006 Leaves PHD after 13 years to become chief executive of Thinkbox; appointed trustee of the Creative and Cultural Skills Board

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

SEO Executive

£24 - 28k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical SEO Executive to join one ...

Research Analyst / Insight Analyst

£25k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Research Analyst / Insight Analyst to joi...

RTB/ Programmatic Campaign Manager

35,000 - 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Our client is the world's largest...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence