A UNIVERSITY graduate, desperate to break into the media, was working as a secretary for a small television production company. The organisation, with a track record of selling to the BBC and ITV, was looking around for the Next Big Thing. The rumour was that the bosses wanted something hard-hitting that would appeal to affluent young women. Convinced she had a winning proposal, the graduate ventured into the boss's office and outlined her idea: a no-holds-barred series focusing on women doing spectacularly dangerous and difficult jobs around the world. The boss was impressed but suggested that while she was still young and free, she should do some travelling, giving her a chance to research angles for the series.

For months she struggled her way around the world, talking to possible subjects: she worked alongside nurses in Afghanistan, women soldiers in the Israeli army, aid workers in Africa, and journalists investigating the drug cartels in South America. She travelled for weeks on a raft up the Amazon to meet missionaries, and slaved with volunteers handing out food to the dispossessed in the shanty towns of Rio.

She arrived back in Britain, massively in debt but convinced she had the material for a major series. A meeting with the production boss proved fruitful, and, two days later, he told her that ITV was interested and the programme was going into production. She happily sold the rights and research papers, paid off her travelling debts and sat back, ready for the praise to roll in.

Alas, she had reckoned without the compulsion that producers have for tampering just a little with every idea that comes across their desks. As the series moved through the chain of command it imperceptibly shifted in content and style. Last year, when it hit the screens, it had become the ultimate in popcorn television: Dani Dares with Dani Behr.

Maxton Walker Send in the stories you've picked up on your journeys to: Global Myths at the address below