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This week we speak to Talented TM-er - Lee Phillips, Series Producer of 'Kathy Burke: Money Talks' 

Give us an insight into the making of the show? 

Lee Phillips: On paper, this series would appear to be one of the easiest I’ve ever attempted.... but in practice it was one of the hardest. The unpredictability and the everchanging restrictions caused by the pandemic were an obvious factor, but I didn’t quite appreciate how difficult it would be to get people to talk about money. It seems us Brits are really quite shy about it – and access – especially during these uncertain times was really tricky. The other challenge was getting the tone right... the audience love Kathy. They want to be entertained by her... but how do we explore issues surrounding poverty without becoming too depressing – while not undermining the difficulties more and more people are facing.

What did you learn?
Lee: The key was to always find a way to bring the story back to Kathy’s personal experiences.... that created warmth, humour and above all humanity. Kathy grew up in poverty and has gone on to enjoy a successful career... she is in a unique position to explore the issues and have empathy and understanding for those at both ends of the wealth divide.

What was it like to work for the channel/production company that hired you?
Lee: This is the third production I have made for Flicker Productions (after ‘Trump’s War on the Border’ and ‘Life After Lock-Up’). I’m really proud of the projects we’ve made together – and we’ve developed a strong relationship based on trust and mutual respect. I am very thankful, as they are a pleasure to work with and have given me some great opportunities.

How did you get the job?

Lee: I’m not sure I’d have been top of the list to be honest. While I’d made several light-hearted talent-led programmes in the past (including the double BAFTA winning ‘How to Start Your Own Country’), they were a lifetime ago. In more recent years I’d settled into a run of gritty observational crime documentaries (‘Her Majesty’s Prison: Aylesbury’, ‘Life Inside Jail’ and ‘Life After Lock-Up’), which I really enjoy making. I was completing final post on a film which followed a murder trial in the US when the pandemic hit. I knew lockdown would mean these kind of observational documentaries were going to be in very short supply moving forward. Thankfully, Flicker knew about my “older funny films” and asked if I’d be interested in making a two-parter with Kathy Burke about money. I’d loved Kathy’s work with Harry Enfield, and ‘Nil by Mouth’ had been a major influence on the way I’d approached some of my observational work, so I couldn’t resist meeting her. While many of my contemporaries were making extraordinary work documenting the pandemic and the medical crisis, I felt the nation would be craving something lighter in tone. With so many effected by the economic fallout of the pandemic, I felt Kathy’s take on the subject would undoubtedly have the potential to resonate.

What is your top TV tip? 

Lee: Be nice – and surround yourself with others that are nice. Working in TV is hard enough without having to endure bulls**t and bullying.

'Kathy Burke: Money Talks', Monday July 5th, C4 10pm (available on catch up)


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