What does a series producer do?
Series producers (SPs) are responsible for the content of an entire series of programmes. They ensure shows are made as creatively as possible, honouring the contract between broadcaster and production company while adhering to the budget, hitting deadlines and meeting all legal, compliance, health and safety requirements.
They are usually one of the first people to join a new production and use their contacts and experience to recruit the best possible team. They often approach directors, producers and assistant producers they’ve worked with on previous productions. A series producer’s team can vary in size and specialisms, depending on the type of production. They may need an archive producer for a history documentary, for example, or a casting producer to run a large casting team for a talent show, or a team experienced at live programming.
Series producers manage the editorial team and make all the content decisions, including which on-screen contributors, such as presenters or experts, should be put forward to the channel’s commissioners (who usually have the final say). They drive all research, edit all scripts and oversee filming in the studio or on location, in the UK and abroad. It’s their job to create a good working environment and they constantly communicate with everyone to make everything run smoothly. They have the ultimate legal responsibilities for the health and safety of the team and anyone involved in the making of their series.
Series producers drive the key creative elements of a show, from specifying shooting styles to ensuring studio sets don’t just look the part but can deliver the content. They oversee music choices, graphics and title sequences and drive the edit forward, ensuring the final programmes are polished and delivered on time.
On daily, consumer affairs or magazine-style programmes, this role is often known as ‘series editor’. Very experienced series producers are also referred to as ‘showrunners’ as they run the show with less guidance and support from the executive producer. Series producers are almost always freelance, unless working for a very long-term production, and often specialise in certain genres.
What’s a series producer good at?
- Content: be full of and open to ideas, able to think laterally and creatively, have strong editorial judgement, skilled at spotting and dealing with legal or compliance issues
- Contacts: have a large contacts book so as to recruit the best production team for the job, have excellent established relationships with presenters, agents, experts and TV commissioners
- Communication: convey your creative and editorial vision and what you expect teams and departments to achieve and when, liaise confidently and professionally with TV commissioners and keep the executive producer up-to-date, manage expectations
- Multi-tasking: juggle multiple shoots, multiple edits, multiple teams at multiple locations, work hard, often while on location
- Problem solving: always have a plan ‘B’, be able to prioritise and make quick and effective decisions, take calculated risks, listen to others and be proactive