Following a highly competitive recruitment process, six of Wales’ most talented producers have been selected to be part of this ambitious, game-changing development programme.

The Fast Track package includes paid production and broadcast placements, bespoke training and commissioner and peer mentoring. The programme is responding to a need, identified by both indies and broadcasters, to invest in fast-tracking the next generation of factual creative leaders in Wales. To support the development of a bilingual workforce, two of the six places are earmarked for Welsh speakers.

In spite of the impact Covid-19 has had on production, Fast Track’s funders and steering committee remain committed to supporting the development programme and doing everything possible to identify suitable placements for the successful producers. The training package is moving online starting this month with courses in storytelling, commentary writing leadership and management, development and pitching, negotiating and influencing and tackling bullying and harassment.

The successful Fast Trackers are Gwenllian Hughes, Laura Martin Robinson, Carrie Smith, Eve White, Tammy Kennedy and Luke Pavey.

The selection panel included commissioners from each funding broadcaster (BBC Cymru Wales, Channel Four and S4C) and 22 producers were invited for interview. Recruitment was completed three weeks before lockdown, with early conversations about production placements taking place just a week before social distancing guidance were introduced.

Factual Fast Track Programme Director Hannah Corneck says: “In these challenging times, supporting our freelancers has never been more critical. TV production across the UK has been hit hard by Covid-19 and it’s more important than ever to help producers navigate the choppy waters of a freelance career at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.”

To maximise the impact of Factual Fast Track, the development programme’s training offering has been extended to all candidates shortlisted for interview. This decision comes at no extra cost and broadens the reach of the programme to benefit an additional 16 freelance producers in Wales.

Securing Fast Track placements in this climate presents the challenge of balancing the requirements for responsible social distancing with industry and business needs. Cardiff Productions is a new Cardiff based factual and digital production company led by former Sugar Films’ executives Narinder Minhas and Pat Younge. The company has recruited Fast Tracker Tammy Kennedy as their development exec.

Pat Younge, MD of Cardiff Productions, says: “Factual Fast Track is a great way to support career development of the next generation of creative leaders in Wales. It’s been great to have someone with Tammy’s experience join us as a development exec, and for us to be able to support her growth whilst learning from her at the same time.”

Development exec Fast Tracker Tammy Kennedy says: “Having designated mentors who are experts in the field to guide me, especially in these turbulent times, feels like it will be invaluable in helping me move forward with my career in development.

“In my placement I’m having the opportunity to meet and discuss my ideas with network commissioners who seemed unreachable before, as well as supporting my ideas and helping me to shape them into more commissionable packages. It feels a very exciting, rewarding and well thought-out scheme to be a part of which is completely bespoke to my needs, and so far, exceeding my expectations.” Wales already has an enviable reputation in factual production, with shows such as Sun, Sea and Brides to Be, Bargain Hunt, The Ganges with Sue Perkins, The 1900 Island (pictured), The One Show, Cynefin and Drych. Broadcasters are keen to accelerate the growth of the sector and ensure Wales has the talent to meet the growing demand for high-end skills and working across both national languages.