Shaper: Jimmy Mulville

Show aired on 26th January 2019

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Welcome to the Jazz Shapers podcast from Mishcon de Reya. What you are about to hear was originally broadcast on Jazz FM however music has been cut or shortened due to rights issues.

Good morning, welcome to Jazz Shapers, where the Shapers of Business join the Shapers of Jazz, Soul and Blues. My guest today I am really pleased to say because I have been tracking him for years, is Jimmy Mulville, Co-Founder of Hat Trick Productions, one of the country’s leading independent producers of comedy, drama and entertainment. Jimmy set up Hat Trick in 1986 with Denise O’Donoghue and Rory McGrath, you’ve heard of both of them I am sure. Their aim? Simple, to make television programmes which we ourselves would like to watch. Well they made a huge list of absolute classics like Father Ted, Have I Got News For You, Room 101, Outnumbered and Whose Line Is It Anyway. I could go on, I am sure you know loads more too. Jimmy has a Bafta award for outstanding creative contribution to television, he was the first British producer to recreate a British series, Whose Line Is It Anyway for US Network TV in 1998 and he has certainly got a knack for producing long running series, Have I Got News For You has its fifty fifth and fifty sixth seasons last year – amazing. We will be speaking to Jimmy in just a few minutes. Here’s Aretha Franklin with Just Right Tonight.

That was Aretha Franklin with Just Right Tonight. As billed earlier my Business Shaper today, Jimmy Mulville, star behind the stage, behind the screen, behind all the cameras and everything. It’s really, really good to have you here. Thank you.

Jimmy Mulville
Nice to be here.

Elliot Moss
You set this business up Jimmy, Hat Trick which some people may not be familiar with…

Jimmy Mulville
No.

Elliot Moss
…people watch the programmes in a way you kind of don’t really care who made it.

Jimmy Mulville
Quite right.

Elliot Moss
Thirty two years ago give or take, thirty three this year.

Jimmy Mulville
I know, I don’t look it do I?

Elliot Moss
You don’t look it at all. I was saying just before we started the programme for proper, I happened to look back at the 1990 pilot of Clive Anderson sitting there with you…

Jimmy Mulville
Oh my God.

Elliot Moss
…and John Sessions et el, talking as part of Whose Line Is It Anyway pilot.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
The hair was longer.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah. Hair was longer and had colour in it.

Elliot Moss
It did have a bit of colour.

Jimmy Mulville
Yes.

Elliot Moss
I actually prefer the colour now.

Jimmy Mulville
Well I… people called me ginger growing up in Liverpool. I went to this kind of school and I would come home from school and say to my mum ‘the kids call me ginger at school’ and I was very upset and she would say ‘you go back and tell those boys you are not ginger, you are strawberry blonde’ which is the worst piece of advice you can give to a young kid in Liverpool going back to his school and saying ‘my mum says I am strawberry blonde’. It went down really well.

Elliot Moss
Now the strawberry blonde boy was pretty good at acting and…

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
…your teacher was pretty encouraging. Tell me a little bit about the urge to perform as a young kid…

Jimmy Mulville
Yes.

Elliot Moss
…and how performing became producing because that’s… obviously you were very keen on being on the front of the stage but you ended up being to the left, to the right, behind and all sorts of the impresario.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
How did that happen?

Jimmy Mulville
Well when I was a child I had a very bad stammer and when I did the odd school play I didn’t stammer and so it was quite a liberating experience where you are thinking ‘my God I am not stammering at all here’ and I know they have a similar experience, speech therapists, when they get people with very bad stammers to sing which I think people saw in the Kings Speech, how effective that was. So there was that going on. Also I liked the attention, you know, I was an only child and I liked hearing people laugh when you did something which was deemed funny so I was very encouraged to act at school. The school was a Comprehensive school in Liverpool. It had been a Grammar school, converted in 1966 as was all, all these schools were converted to the comprehensive system but we were blessed with having some really motivated teachers and so that boyhood dream carried on until I was at University. I got a place at Cambridge, mainly due to the efforts of this one particular teacher who saw that I was quite good at languages and he encouraged me to do Latin and Ancient Greek at this Liverpool Comprehensive and he would always pick a couple of guys, it was an all-boys school, and do extra work with us and extra coaching and you know, he changed our lives really, this man. And at Cambridge of course I eventually got into the Footlights and there I met Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones and Clive Anderson and coming up behind me was Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson and so it was a kind of period of you know, fantastic stimulation and challenges and we put shows on and the dream was alive, you know I thought this is what I want to do for a living. And then I left University and didn’t get a job, I didn’t… my eldest son recently said to me – he’s now twenty – ‘when you left college what did you want to do’, I said ‘well this is not great advice from a father to a son Joe but there is only one thing I knew I didn’t want to do and that was to get a job’. I didn’t want to get a job job because in those days you would go off and get a job as a chartered accountant or a banker or something from those Universities and you were kind of… that was your job for life and of course that doesn’t exist anymore. Now we have a kind of definitely an environment where these young people are going to be doing four or five different careers and I kind of wanted that life, I wanted a life where it was just more bespoke but I didn’t know what I was going to do next and after a year of being a hospital porter in Catford, at Lewisham General. Which is interesting as during the big SNP not SNP, the SWP Socialist Worker Part and BNP riots in Lewisham, the very famous Lewisham riots and I was working in A&E and what they do, the ambulances would bring in all the, all the trots and the communists and the worker party people with their broken arms and smashed up faces and half an hour later they bring the fascists in to the same A&E and it would all kick off in the A&E.

Elliot Moss
You mentioned you went to a Comprehensive school and then you went to Cambridge.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
That journey now is still a hard one, that journey now is still not typical. When did you realise you could do stuff academically, I mean at what point because your parents are both working class?

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
When did you go ‘hold on a minute, that’s coming easily to me’ and was there ever a sense of ‘I can do this, I enjoy it’ or was it, were you pulled by this teacher?

Jimmy Mulville
Well unusually I liked school and school for me, it was, it began on time, it ended on time, there was a safety to it, a regularity to it and actually that’s the way we kind of run Hat Trick interestingly is that I always say that creative people like a safe environment. You know, the idea that it is all just made up as we go along, no. If you’ve got a highly creative person, they want to know that you know, a meeting is going to happen then, that that’s going to be delivered then, the props are going to be there then, the set is going to be built there and you know, it’s not just we think it up as we go along. What happens is that provides a platform for them to extemporise, take risks but you have to – in my view anyway – there has to be a basis of security, there has to be a base camp before you can reach the summit and I think that I was provided, school gave that, it gave me a kind of an inner security that when I was at school I knew I was safe, not that I wasn’t safe at home but there was a kind of… and there was a journey. I had people, gifted teachers, telling me stories about the world I hadn’t yet encountered that were just firing my imagination.

Elliot Moss
I wanted to talk to you about risk because I think comedy is all about pushing boundaries both for the people delivering it but also people receiving it because the art of the brilliant funny joke is that you don’t know where it is going to go and then you think it is going to go left and it goes right.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Tell me about over the years how you as a business person in a creative industry, have managed risk?

Jimmy Mulville
That’s, that’s a big question. I think that I am risk, I am slightly risk addictive. So I am drawn to risk and fortunately I work with people who are slightly risk adverse so we sit in a room and I will come out with something and they will listen to it very carefully and then they will be… I can tell by the length of the pause after I’ve finished how good the idea is ‘cos there will be like a noise, one of them will go ‘yeah, yeah, no umm yeah’ and I know it’s a terrible idea. So I don’t know, sometimes we have taken risks and they haven’t worked out, you know, we invested quite a lot of money in doing Funny Or Die here. We did a deal with the American Funny Or Die, the Will Farrell company and Matt Lucas and David Walliams were involved and you know, some great people and there were some great ideas on it but we couldn’t get it to be visible and it died and you know, we lost quite a bit of money on that and I would say in the year 2000 I got very involved with the first iteration of the Dot Com frenzy and I got involved with a company where I had more meetings about this new environment than I was having on proper TV shows and we then presented our ideas to the Board at BT and they loved the ideas and then asked, ‘well whose going to pay for them’ and we thought ‘well you’ll pay for them’ and they said ‘no, no, no we don’t do that, we’re the platform’ so suddenly I said to my partner at the time, Paul Sunumberg who now runs Associated Press. I said, ‘I don’t think this industries dead, I think it hasn’t been born yet’ and of course that is what we are seeing now is twenty years later, eighteen years later, of course now there are more ways to monetise ideas on the Internet in a huge way but in those days I was kind of being a slightly hysterical personality, I had this down side to me, you can get into a kind of state about things.

Elliot Moss
Are you hysterical? You don’t seem and obviously we’ve just met.

Jimmy Mulville
I think male hysteria comes out in more subtle ways. Yeah, I think. Do you collect things?

Elliot Moss
No I am quite a minimalist actually.

Jimmy Mulville
Ahh then you are quite…

Elliot Moss
I’m a, I’m a strange one. Are you a collector?

Jimmy Mulville
No I’m not actually but you…

Elliot Moss
No I don’t like collecting.

Jimmy Mulville
…but you meet guys who collect things?

Elliot Moss
Yeah that I do. I’ve met lots of them.

Jimmy Mulville
They’re pretty hysterical.

Elliot Moss
But I want to read you a quote, you said this okay.

Jimmy Mulville
Oh dear.

Elliot Moss
Oh dear but it’s okay.

Jimmy Mulville
Now when I speak I don’t…

Elliot Moss
It’s not going to get you into trouble.

Jimmy Mulville
But when I speak I don’t listen.

Elliot Moss
Ditto. I mean it is the art of speaking. If you ever listened to what you said you’d never say anything.

Jimmy Mulville
Okay.

Elliot Moss
You said here, a long time ago but I think it touches on something you mentioned about hysteria – “I am completely obsessive. When I ask for tea and biscuits I don’t mean one cup of tea and a biscuit, I mean a pot of tea and a packet of biscuits and the pot of tea is drunk and the packet of biscuits is eaten.” And I imagine in terms of the 9.00 to 5.00 school as you move it into the safe area, everything has to be just so. Is that right?

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah. I think that you know, even down to our Christmas party, we had a year where people didn’t concentrate and we have a little Christmas sing song at Hat Trick, it’s called the ‘Brand Tub’ and its basically we all gather in the kitchen and these days people bring their kids in, and we had a year where someone said ‘oh yeah there’s a girl at Hat Trick, she’s one of the runners and she plays guitar, maybe she could do it’ and basically we have a list of songs which are Christmas carols and popular Christmas songs like you know, you know the Slade number or Fairy Tale in New York and then there’s just favourites like The Mamma’s & The Papa’s and stuff and we used to have a good old sing song for about forty five minutes. But up until that point we had a really great guy doing guitar, he was a showman, he led the room and he stopped doing it and that year people weren’t concentrating and they felt ‘well it’s just the Brand Tub, it’s just the Christmas do, it’s just for the kids’ and it was terrible. And I got the people in who were organising it and I kind of hit the roof. I said ‘this is a really important event for us, this is where people bring their children in and it’s a moment where we experience family at Hat Trick and it is really important the kids see where their parents work and it’s a good place and they have a good time’ so for me it is the most important event of the year. The following year they pulled the stops out and we have Father Christmas now, we have these two fantastic singers. You know what I mean? It’s like if you are going to do it…

Elliot Moss
It’s got to be right.

Jimmy Mulville
…let’s just do it. You know rather than just phoning it in.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for more from my guest, Jimmy Mulville in a couple of minutes. First though we are going hear our next taster from the News Sessions podcast which can be found on all the major podcast platforms, Paddy O’Connell and with the help of Mishcon de Reya, explores the world of the gig economy.

You can have a listen to all of our former Jazz Shapers and indeed enjoy this very programme with Jimmy again by asking Alexa to play Jazz Shapers or you can pop Jazz Shapers into iTunes where you will find the full archive. But back to today and to Jimmy Mulville; Co-Founder of Hat Trick Productions, one of the country’s’ leading independent producers – I love saying things like that, I mean it just trips off the tongue very nicely…

Jimmy Mulville
Why not.

Elliot Moss
…of comedy, drama and entertainment. Over the years of course our tastes, our social morals have shifted. Your programmes always seem appropriate without being safe. Safe, the use of the word in a different way. How do you manage to do that because how did you see the improvisation moment was happening in the 90’s? How did you know that a, a comedy about a family and a number of children would work at that time? And how do you calibrate it or is it much more natural than that? Is it much less thought about than that?

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah I mean it’s not, it’s I think we’ve been taken by surprise by most of our hits.

Elliot Moss
Really? You couldn’t even, you weren’t sure that that was a winner?

Jimmy Mulville
No, I mean we’ve enjoy… you know you enjoy the idea when it’s pitched to you and you enjoy the development and you think it’s going to be good and you think this might work. You can’t be sure. I mean Whose Line, I was an actor at the time, I was doing some acting in the 80’s and I was invited to be on the radio show called Whose Line Is It Anyway and Stephen Fry and John Sessions were invited on and it was a double recording and Lenny Henry and I were the guests and I was hopeless. I mean it was like being invited to a car accident. I didn’t know what was happening. I was just in shock and but what I realised with my producer hat on, because I think having been a bit of an actor and a bit of a writer when I decided to give up acting and writing becoming a producer, it was kind of it fed into it you know, there were careers that fed into my producing skill set because I could notice what a great show it was and I could see the audience were having a great time and I could see it was organic and it was dangerous and it was improvised, I mean literally when Stephen Fry was given the job of right you are in a job interview in the style of a Jane Austin novel and off he went. I thought ‘oh God this is absolutely brilliant’ and its populist but its smart and I think if there is anything that identifies our programming is it is populist because you want as many people to watch it as possible but we like it if its smart so our kind of mantra is we create quality, content for profit is our little mission statement that we developed years ago is is this something that we would watch and is it going to make money? Because it has to do both if you are going to be in business.

Elliot Moss
But the lovely thing, and as I looked at it for… I was wondering what that line was between you know, how you get so many people watching and yet it’s very intelligent.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
It goes back to your stories as a kid and the fact that, that the classics are important and that they are accessible because they’re just fabulous stories. That imagination that you have and that you’ve been exercising that part of your brain for many, many, many years. When you spot young talent, is that what you are looking for? Is that… are you looking for that ‘hold on a minute’ I haven’t seen, that ideas not very good but I think this person’s got something?

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah, oh abso.., there’s no question that you, you know, I was talking to Graham Linehan who wrote Father Ted and he’s got an eye for, you know, new things and new talent and you know, he spotted something the other day and we were talking about that and you know, what this person was doing wasn’t necessarily right for TV but you could see this person had a spark of some real, fresh, comic innovation about him and like I say, you kind of sense it. You can’t, and sometimes you are wrong, and you know, you will back somebody and they won’t develop. I mean it is like a young sportsman, like a young footballer you know, is that you can show great promise and then if they just don’t kick on or sometimes they do. Paul Merton you know, I knew him when he was a very young comic and he did bit parts in Who Dares Wins, a show I was involved in in the early 80’s and you know he was quite funny, you know he’d sit around but he went off and did gigs in the evening and then he did Whose Line and he was brilliant in Whose Line and then we did a sketch show with him and then we put him into Have I Got News For You pilot because he’d just been ill, he’d come back from being ill and we thought we’d give him a run out in the pilot and he was brilliant and Ian was in the pilot because he was the editor of Private Eye and they were the only two things we kept from the pilot because the pilot was abysmal. The pilot… had the BBC not booked a series as well as the pilot we would never have made the series of Have I Got News For You. Had the pilot been a pure audition we would have failed the audition because it was the worst programme made by human beings up to that point.

Elliot Moss
In terms of that and just before we go to some more music, there’s that sense of joy. For you when is it at its most potent? When do you go ‘do you know what, Jimmy Mulville’s happy’. Is it that moment you see that spark? Is it when you hear the idea? Is it when you see it on television? Is it ten years later? When is it? Assuming you have those moments.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah well when you are pitching an idea and you’ve sold the idea and you see that moment in their eyes when they’ve bought your idea.

Elliot Moss
And they’ve got it.

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah. Is a fantastic feeling of, I guess it’s a bit like when a stand-up comedian gets a laugh is that it’s also about the dark side of that moment of course is about control, is you’ve got them to do what you want to do which is what most human beings are driven by and we grow up, we learn we don’t have that ability and you have people like Donald Trump who still thinks he has that ability so you have people who grow up and realise in all humility there are certain things I can do and certain things I can’t do but in that moment when you get someone to buy your idea, there is a moment of ‘right we can do anything’ and then straight after that moment is ‘oh God I’ve got to make a programme now’.

Elliot Moss
The realisation, a lot more work.

Jimmy Mulville
So there is that thing of follow your bliss but actually then when you get your bliss is you have to trudge the road to make it happen and then… you’ve got to enjoy the journey really.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more from Jimmy Mulville. Time for some music right now it’s Miles Davis with Freddie Freeloader.

I want to talk to you about working. You said your advice to your oldest son is don’t get a job, I didn’t want to get a job. You still don’t have a job in a way, I mean running your own business and I’ve also read about you that you are not really going to stop work whatever, we already decided it isn’t really work. You almost, you looked at publicly selling the company having bought it back having sold it. I can’t imagine you ever relinquishing because why would you? I mean what, what… I don’t imagine money drives you?

Jimmy Mulville
No I mean I think it would be dishonest to say money is not important. I think it is one calibration of success if you are making a profit you know, no business should gut a business if they are making a profit so we try and make a profit. But no, the idea, I mean, you know I was made, I have been made offers by companies which I wouldn’t work with, not because they are bad people they are just different, a different view on things. I think that, I mean what happened to me was that I, I you know, in the 80’s I developed as a lot of people in my family, a drink problem. I got that sorted out and so I kind of made a decision to draw a line, very few people have this opportunity where you draw a line over your life and say ‘that was then and this is now’ and what am I going to do now? Consciously. How am I going to live my life? And I think that what I try to do is try to put challenges in my own way. So I’ve just bought a Beagle puppy for example. Now if you feel your life is a bit humdrum, get a Beagle right! Because they are a nightmare. But I love him and he’s dragging me round the park and I’m having to train him, I’m having to dig into even more patience and more… you know, so it’s about finding things that kick me out of my comfort zone and keep me you know, and keep me on the straight and narrow and I have a group of friends who help me do that but nothing to do with my business. I have a great friend called Tim Mellors who ended up being worldwide chairman of Grey Advertising and you know I met Tim when I got sober and he helped me enormously. I think if I hadn’t met Tim I might not yet be sober because he intervened in my life at a certain point where I was sober and had stopped drinking but I was beginning to discover why I drank and I was beginning to deal with the issues in my life that actually drove me into that dark place of wanting to obliterate my life through drink and drugs. I actually started to feel those feelings and it was a very dark time for me, I was about thirty six years of age, and he intervened and he helped me enormously and I, like I say, without him then, a conversation with another man who had been on a similar journey to me, I don’t know where I would have ended up. So I feel enormously grateful that I got a second chance of life and that’s really informed my decisions is that everything really is a bonus, you know, I think that anything I do – I always say to younger producers – try it, if it fails you won’t regret it. What you will regret are the things you don’t do. As when you are on your death bed, it won’t be the fact that you screwed up that or you did this or that funny thing happened, it will be the things you didn’t try because you thought you were inept or you were incompetent and a friend of mine, another friend of mine said ‘you must always find out where you are incompetent. Try and find out your level, try and find out where the edges of your competence are’. When I was drunk someone said to me ‘you are unconsciously incompetent. Now you are sober you are just consciously incompetent’. And it’s a relief. I say to young producers, you know, when they come in with a problem I’ll tell them about a problem I had twenty years ago which was worse than their problem and they go ‘really, that happened to you?’ and I say ‘yeah that happened to me’ and the information I am giving them is, it happened to me, it was a terrible thing that happened and look, I am still here and it is really important that older people mentor younger people like that and they don’t tell them what to do but they share their experiences with them. I have to remind myself that my twenty year old son is going through all those things you go through when you are twenty years old. He is in much better nick than I was when I was twenty but as his dad, I can get into that place of telling him what to do and I have to hold myself and say you know what, ‘Joe you’re fine. Let me tell you what I was like when I was twenty’ and his kind of jaw drops and his eyes widen and you can see the sense of relief in him that ‘oh okay, so it’s okay to be like this’ because shame is a terrible thing in our society, it’s what the newspapers feed off. That feeling that we should be ashamed of ourselves for getting things wrong. You know when an accident happens we are all looking for someone to blame. It’s an accident. You know someone made a mistake, it’s a human thing and we live in a society now where it just feels to me you can’t make a mistake. If you make a mistake you are cast into oblivion never to be heard of again. I think we are going to lose a lot of very good people because of that.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for my final chat with my guest, Jimmy Mulville plus we will be playing a track from Herbie Hancock. That’s coming up in just a moment.

That was Herbie Hancock with Dolphin Dance. I’ve got Jimmy Mulville with me for just a few more minutes. You talked then about darkness, you talked then about connecting with your emotions and you now as a, you’re obviously a dad, you’re a leader of a business. It strikes me that you are a very open person. How much is openness an important part of the creative process and of the way you run your life. You walked about the Beagle, you talked about your friends and I was kind of going to ask, what does Jimmy do when Jimmy is not working because I imagine you are always thinking about the next thing. But that openness, how have you every day continued to embrace it and remember that you have gratitude in there because you talked about that and it’s a classic way of combatting the, you know, the addictive patterns that… how do you manage to do that every day? Because you strike me as someone who has held that line?

Jimmy Mulville
Yeah well it is a daily process and sometimes I get up in the morning and sometimes I get up in the morning and I think ‘oh God not this again’ you know, I’ll be honest. I mean sometimes you get tired, you get stressed and you think ‘do I, really, again, this?’ and then another part of my brain says ‘okay now what we do is Jimmy is we get out of bed and we have a shower, can you do that? Have a shower?’ Yes.

Elliot Moss
I think you should write this down as you go, this is brilliant. This would make good tele.

Jimmy Mulville
And then…

Elliot Moss
Or better radio

Jimmy Mulville
…maybe after the shower, have a coffee and some breakfast, how about that. And then we have that conversation about whether life is worth living or not and a friend of mine says, ‘do you not find as the day goes on it gets more survivable?’ and that’s the truth.

Elliot Moss
It’s true isn’t it?

Jimmy Mulville
It’s that of course life is difficult, you know there’s a book I read when I first got sober called The Road Less Travelled which was like a bible for people in the late 80’s. It was the self-help book and it begins with the sentence – Life is difficult and the quality of your life will be dependent on your ability to solve the problems in your life – and that’s true. I am reading a book at the moment which I don’t think I can say on the radio but it is the Subtle Art of Not Giving An F… – right?

Elliot Moss
Ah yes, yes.

Jimmy Mulville
And, Mark Manson and he talks about this, saying the pursuit of happiness and pleasure it’s a false dream because actually people who are generally content and happy and have meaning in their lives are people who can solve their life problems and they increase the quality of those problems. So if you are drunk all the time you’ve got a problem right? You stop drinking, it just creates a whole range of other problems but they are slightly better problems. They are high class problems as opposed to low class problems but life is never going to be without problems and sometimes I mentor people in you know, who are trying to stop drinking and they complain about their lives and I say ‘go for a walk round Brompton Cemetery because the place is full of people who don’t have any problems’ you know, part of being alive is to have a problem and it should be the thing that you celebrate because an old African proverb is ‘a life is a struggle and in the end you lose it so celebrate the struggle’. You’ve got to, you’ve got to enjoy it and take full responsibility for everything going on in your life, it’s such a relief not to blame other people.

Elliot Moss
Jimmy it has been brilliant talking to you and listening to you. Thank you and thank you for sharing so openly. You run a highly successful company, please keep doing it because you make stuff that makes people laugh and brings joy to their lives genuinely, me included and I am sure I am not the only one, well I can’t be the only one otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation would we. Just before I let you go, what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Jimmy Mulville
So my song choice is Ben E King’s, Stand By Me for a lot of reasons really; (1) I think it is a fantastic song but I remember the movie which used that as a title and I was walking along the Kings Road with my brother who came to live with me, there were certain issues at home in Liverpool, he came to live with me in London when he was about fourteen years of age and we were walking along the Kings Road, I am eighteen years older than him, he is my step-brother so he is almost like having a young son and it was pouring with rain and we just thought we’d dive into a cinema without any expectations and we sat down and watched Stand By Me and he enjoyed it, watching these kids go on an adventure and I watched it with a great longing to be a child again and so it had a massive impact, we have never forgotten that film, me and my brother, we are very close and this song means a lot to me and it just moves me. The idea that someone is standing next to you I think is really important. I think, like I say, I don’t want to be too heavy about this but modern society is so, people can feel so isolated and we are taught by our leaders that we are all different, we should hate each other and in fact we are all the same. We are all in it together for this blink of an eye in history, you know for however long we are here we are all in it together and yet our leaders seem to want to glory in the fact that we are different and to promote the chaos that ensues from those difference and in the end we are just in it together so Stand By Me I think is a great anthem for 2019.

Elliot Moss
That was Stand By Me from Ben E King, the song choice of my exceptional Business Shaper, Jimmy Mulville. He talked about his product being populist but smart, he talked about creating safe environments for creative people, trying things that take you out of your comfort zone and in essence, above everything else, it is all about solving life’s problems. Absolutely brilliant stuff. That’s it from Jazz Shapers, have a great weekend.

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Jimmy Mulville co-founded Hat Trick Productions in 1986. It is now one of the UK’s leading independent producers of comedy, drama and entertainment, with popular and award winning programmes across many channels, including: Episodes, Derry Girls, Outnumbered, Spy, Father Ted, Room 101, Some Girls, Dr Thorne, Boomers, Fonejacker, Dinner Date, The Revolution will be Televised, Facejacker, The Kumars at No 42, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and, of course, the long running BBC1 series Have I Got News For You, which Jimmy himself created in 1990.

In the US Hat Trick launched ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ on ABC in 1997. Running for seven years, it was the first British series to be recreated for American network television by a British producer.

Before moving to television in 1982, he produced for BBC Radio, where he developed and produced the award-winning ‘RADIO ACTIVE’. In 1999 Jimmy received the BAFTA Award for ‘Outstanding Creative Contribution to Television’. He is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool.

For more than 25 years Jimmy has been working with some of the best writers, producers, performers and crew who in turn attract the best on-screen talent. Some of the brightest names in British television began their careers and continue to build them under the Hat Trick brand.

Follow Hat Trick Productions on Twitter @HatTrickProd.

“I was an only child and I liked hearing people laugh when something was deemed funny, I was very encouraged to act at school.”

“I got a place at Cambridge, mainly due to the efforts of one particular teacher who saw that I was quite good at languages. He picked a couple of guys for extra tutoring and changed our lives.”

“I always say that creative people like a safe environment.”

“I am completely obsessive.  When I ask for tea & biscuits I don’t mean one cup of tea & a biscuit, I mean a pot of tea and a packet of biscuits.”

“Our mantra is we create quality content for profit. We ask ‘is this something that we would watch and is it going to make money?’ Because it has to do both if we are going to be in business.”

“It’s a fantastic feeling when you are pitching an idea and it’s sold. You see that moment in their eyes when they’ve bought your idea.”

“There is a moment of ‘right we can do anything!’ and then straight after that moment is ‘…oh God, I’ve got to make a programme’.”

“What I try to do is try to put challenges in my own way… it’s about finding things that kick me out of my comfort zone & keep me on the straight and narrow.”

“I went through a very dark time – a friend said, ‘you must always find out where you are incompetent. Try and find out your level, try and find out where the edges of your competence are’.”

“You’ve got to enjoy struggling and take full responsibility for everything going on in your life; it’s such a relief not to blame other people.”