Sebastian Scott: My Life In Media
'The worst thing about my job is when I have a brilliant idea, but then it's only me who thinks it's brilliant'
Monday 20 February 2006
Sebastian Scott, 43, is co-founder and managing director of Princess Productions, which made its mark a decade ago with Light Lunch and is now the UK's 10th-largest independent production company. Recent hits include The Wright Stuff, The Friday Night Project, and Model Behaviour. He lives in London with his partner Peter Mikic, a fashion designer.
What inspired you to start a career in the media?
My parents were on a documentary series called Man Alive about people who couldn't afford to live in their houses anymore. That was the first time I came into contact with television.
When you were 15 years old, what was the family newspaper and did you read it?
It was The Times, and yes, I read it. We also got The Southern Reporter, the local newspaper in the Scottish Borders.
And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
I liked The Generation Game and Nationwide, which was a brilliant magazine show that ran at six o'clock every night with stories from around the nation. They would do everything from consumer reports to items on skateboarding ducks. I think I grew up listening to Noel Edmonds on Radio 1.
What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?
I definitely don't turn on the television or radio. I read The Independent. I read it occasionally in the past, but I really like the new design, and now we read it every day. I've made too many TV breakfast shows to watch them, and I prefer to get to work with a clear head.
Do you consult any media sources during the working day?
I have The Wright Stuff, which we make, on every day. I also read The Sun and check out the latest BBC News online.
What's the best thing about your job?
Being able to think of an idea and watch it turn into a television programme. It's a job in which you can really use your imagination. We make quite a diverse range of programming, so I can be doing everything from a great arts project to a Friday-night comedy show. I'm can pursue things that interest me, and I still love having ideas and getting to make them a reality.
And the worst?
Having a brilliant idea, but it's only you who thinks it's brilliant; or creating something you thought was great and it doesn't rate as well as you hoped it would.
What is the proudest achievement in your working life?
Reporting from Tiananmen Square in Beijing on the demonstrations for Eye-witness. The report that I am really proud of was the one that I did straight after the event. I also covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. It was scary and dangerous at the time, but the world was going through such an enormous amount of change, and I felt very privileged to be able to be there at the front line.
And your most embarrassing moment?
Catching somebody shagging in the Big Breakfast bed. It was Paula Yates's bed, but it wasn't Paula shagging.
At home, what do you tune in to?
The Friday Night Project, obviously, as we produce it. I also like watching Lost, Desperate Housewives, The Ten O'Clock News on BBC1, Will & Grace and Supernanny.
What is your Sunday paper, and do you have a favourite magazine?
I read The Independent and I like Andrew Tuck's Sunday Review in The Independent on Sunday. I like Entertainment Weekly, which I find very useful. I also read The Observer and the News of the World.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire.
I'd like to create another network hit in America. We've got a very successful show in the States at the moment called Date My Mom, and one on NBC called The Restaurant, and Parental Control just started on MTV, but I would like to find another network show in America that could come here, or vice versa.
If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?
I would probably be a farmer. I grew up on a farm but I'm the fifth son, so there wouldn't have been much farm left. The other four boys got all the pies before me.
Whom in the media do you most admire and why?
Kevin Lygo. He's very good at his job, but is also really nice, which, in my experience, is unusual. He's funny and does a brilliant job.
1985 Kicks off TV career as a researcher on That's Life
1987 Reports for Network 7, Janet Street-Porter's award-winning youth programme
1989 Foreign correspondent for LWT's Eyewitness
1991 Reformats and produces seminal late-night music magazine show The Word
1992 Launches The Big Breakfast with presenters Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin
1996 Forms Princess Productions with Henrietta Conrad
2000 Sets up Princess Talent Management, looking after Janet Street-Porter and Vernon Kay
2006 Opens Princess North in Manchester with commissions for Sky One and Five
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