In The Middle With Entertainment Journalist Emma Bullimore
London-based entertainment journalist Emma Bullimore has a successful career that keeps her on her toes…
‘It’s been a bit of a crazy day with Will Young’ says Emma when she picks up the phone. ‘You know he’s left Strictly? He had a spat with Len at the weekend but nothing that would make you think he’d actually leave. There’s been a lot of speculation… so that’s been my morning.’
Bullimore works as a feature writer for the TV Times magazine where she interviews TV actors, presenters, and reality stars. She also visits TV sets, where she watches dramas being filmed and writes reviews. ‘When you first start the job, it feels like you’re going to be star struck all the time, but actually you lose that quite quickly and it becomes normal’ she explains. ‘Except for people you’ve fancied as a teenager… that never becomes normal. Like Ant and Dec, which is probably a really embarrassing admission!’
As well as working at the TV Times, Emma is a broadcaster, making guest appearances on radio and TV programmes including BBC Breakfast and BBC2’s Strictly: It Takes Two. ‘The shows I go on are all daily, so you’ll only get a few hours notice. For radio shows you go into the broadcasting house, sit in the studio and talk to the producer on the other end of the line about whatever the subject of the day is… things like “should Mary Berry have left Bake Off?” TV is very similar except someone puts make up on you and you’re much more self conscious about how you look. You’ll do a briefing first so the presenters can lead into your opinions and not ask you about the one thing you don’t know about.’
And it’s not just broadcasting that takes up Emma’s time, as she is also an experienced Q&A host. Before a new drama makes its debut on TV, there will be a private screening held for the press. Afterwards its Emma’s job to sit on the stage with a few of the cast asking them questions to give the journalists quotes to promote the show. She then opens the floor for questions and has the difficult task of making sure everything goes smoothly and the actors are happy. ‘Sometimes a really dodgy question is asked and I have to shut it down which can be terrifying’ she admits.
Although balancing all of her jobs can be a challenge, Emma loves her work. ‘It can be quite stressful, like this morning, I had to be at the BBC for seven to talk about Will Young which meant they sent a car for me at ten to six which was unpleasant considering I only got the call at 8pm last night so I hadn’t planned my day around it. But that’s what makes breaking news so exhilarating!’
Emma has always known that she wanted to be a journalist, but she actually studied German at Oxford University. ‘Most people I know don’t actually have a degree in journalism, so I just did something I was good at’ she reveals. ‘I knew that for journalism you need lots of work experience. The first piece can be difficult to find. It can be very frustrating. I did some work experience at the TV Times in my second year of uni and went back after my degree…I still haven’t left!’
Although it might sound like Emma’s had an easy time finding her dream job, she has also had her low points. ‘There was a period between leaving uni and getting my job where I was only working Mondays and Fridays at the TV Times and doing translation on the other days to pay the bills. All my friends were getting jobs and I just felt like it would never happen. It’s easy to get disheartened, but you have to persevere’.
The print magazine industry is shrinking rapidly, making journalism an increasingly competitive job industry, but Emma insists there will always be opportunities for good writers who don’t mind multi-tasking. ‘It’s not really about just being a journalist anymore. Unless you’re really lucky you have to be willing to do other jobs like writing web stories and video editing.’
Finally, she offers some valuable advice. ‘You have to be tenacious. It’s not a career where if someone says no you can sit and cry. I’m putting feelers out trying to do broadcast stuff and I get rejected every single week. You can’t take it personally; you’ve got to keep going. It will be worth it. ’