Thursday, 28 February 2008

Hello from Morocco!

Dear Reader

It's half term and I have thankfully swapped the hubub of London for the ethnic delights of Morocco with my 4 demanding children (Herbert, Mathilda, Giselle and Siren), husband Nicholas and Magda, the lovely 19 year old Polish aupair.

Everything was going swimmingly well until we arrived last night in Marrakech to be greated by the world's most horrendous kerfuffle from the balcony of our exclusive riad:

Yes, grown men openly brawling in the street - how very North of England! These people are so aggressive and angry all the time and I think I know why... the traffic. It is so oppressive I cannnot breath somedays from all the exhaust fumes and smog-craziness.

I feel like I am taking my life into my own hands on every sightseeing trip I make (unlike the reassuring safety of driving my own 4x4 back in London, say). This afternoon I even refused to visit the valley of flushing water in Ourika, and instead spent some much needed time rehydrating my tired feet whilst Magda occupied the children.

I am more certain than I have ever felt before that this country desperately needs my help. As I write this, thank goodness my (soon-to-be) award winning congestion series is airing in the UK. Dear, dear, poor people of Morocco, I can help you stop your car related street violence!

For the next 3 months my plan is that everyone - even the tourists - must leave their cars at home and travel in one of these:

I have texted Arthur back in London to dig out his filofax and track down the owner of Radiodiffusion Television Marocaine, Morocco's state television network, and government minister in charge of public transport. This deal I can do on my own, without Ivan or Freemantle's meddling.

Nicholas was furious when he caught wind over breakfast that I needed to "pop out for a quick meeting"

My top lip quivered vulnerably, and I flashed him a bit of cleavage:"But darling cheeks, the people of Morocco desperately need my help!"

He rolled over like a puppy.

Must dash dear reader- I have a special tummy tingle (no, it isn't excitement it must be the mutton and preserved lemon tagine we had for supper last night!)

Much love until next time,

TV's favourite Headmistress xxx

Sunday, 24 February 2008

POEM 6: Kleiny you're so Finey

Hey Kleiny
You're so fine
You're so fine
You blow my mind
Hey Kleiny!
Hey Kleiny!

Oh Kleiny!
What a pity you don't understand
You take me by the heart
When you take me by the hand

Oh Kleiny!
You're so pretty
Can't you understand?
It's guys like you Kleiny
Oh what you do Kleiny, do Kleiny
Don't break my heart Kleiny...

Oh Kleiny!
Why don't we say goodnight
so you can take me home, Kleiny
It'll be alright
If you do Kleiny, do Kleiny
I'll let you get to third base, baby

Oh Kleiny!
Come on and give it to me
anyway you can
If you commission my latest eco series
I'll treat you like a man
Hey Kleiny!
Hey Kleiny!


PS. Best read out loud to this thrilling tune by Toni Basil

Monday, 18 February 2008

Making myself cry

I'm in the office early today, and to start this sunny and bright week off I am about to reveal a secret to you dear loyal readers... I have an extraordinary gift. You see, sometimes, when meetings are going particularly badly and I feel stressed, or someone is threatening to unravel me for all and sundry to see and pick apart, I am able to turn on my waterworks.

Yes. Like most good, honourable women out there, I too can cry on demand. It is the last word in power us women have when dealing with emotionally-stunted male creatures: they just cannot deal with seeing our mascara all smeared, and our blood-red cheeks flushed after a heavy bout of weeping. They collapse and give in. It is often a gorgeous moment in my day if I have to resort to this final act to get my own way.

I cannot tell you how many uncomfortable situations I have been able to escape thanks to My Gift.

My Gift allowed me to escape the furore that surrounded that awful historical parenting show (even though I made Marsha take the brunt of the nasty, bullying criticism)...

My Gift gave me the neccessary financial boost from Lloyds investment when I needed it the most after going it alone three years back....

My Gift made Ben Frow feel really, really guilty after he shouted at me down the phone during the second series of Grand Designs and threatened (rather stupidly) to decommission it....

I simply can't imagine how I would have reached this lofty perch without my extraordinary gift. It is something rare that makes us strong women stand out in this sometimes cruel and cynical world where men dominate and rule.

So thank god I have mastered this uniquely feminine art right down to a tee.

yours, sniff sniff (!),
Love The Headmistress

Friday, 15 February 2008


One of the dilemmas dear reader I face almost hour-by-hour when I'm behind my desk at work is this: what kind of mineral water should we, as a progressive, caring, youthful and ethical production company, be sipping?

When a commissioning editor decides to grace our boardroom for one of those "face-time sessions", what *will* they be thinking if we just serve up bubbly Perrier or plain-old Evian? I know what I would be thinking if I were in their shoes...

So late last night, just before she was about to leave for the day and go on some Valentines "date" with a boy-runner she had recently met (don't you just *adore* young love - so sweet!), I got the new junior researcher-thingy to spend a couple of hours ringing round some of the top sommeliers in the capital to ascertain just what waters they were serving to their discerning clientel.

Based on her multimedia powerpoint presentation first thing today, I have decided upon this.

I know you'll all be thinking, gosh that's terribly expensive, and yes, dear reader, it is.

But by god it will be worth it.

I don't transform people's lives for the better whilst sipping on 69p Evian you know!!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Happy St Valentine's Day dear readers

Happy St V's my dear readers. I hope you find (like I did!) the person you are looking for in your life. My husband has given me 4 beautiful children and I feel truly blessed today. This time of year is one for renewing our love vows and making new ones with the person in the photocopy room (or the boardroom!) who has caught your eye.

When I feel particularly unloved and I'm having an off day (it does happen sometimes you know!) I often lock myself away in the warm, safe embrace of the Headmistress's office and stroke my collection of published poetry anthologies.

As this is a special day, I wanted to share with you my favourite Valentine's poem by the marvellous and talented Myra Cohn Livingston:

If you won't be my Valentine
I'll scream, I'll yell, I'll bite.
I'll cry aloud, I'll start to whine
If you won't be my Valentine.
I'll frown and fret, I'll mope and pine, and
It will serve you right---
If you won't be my Valentine
I'll scream, I'll yell, I'll bite.


I often feel like this when I fail to inspire people with my latest ambitious television shows. Although you'll be pleased to hear that I have not (yet) actually yelled at or bitten a commissioning editor!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

How to stop the rain?

As a busy mother of four, published author, TV presenter, and successful businesswoman, I never quite know where my inspiration will strike for my next big television idea.

For example, just this afternoon I was sat in the waiting room for my final smile makeover with Farydon just off Marylebone High Street, flicking though an old copy of National Geographic, only to come across the most heart-wrenching story about a Venuzuelian miracle child who is worshiped as a "raindancer" in his local community. What's more, dear reader, he is just 11-years old!

Think of the power that this dear child could wield on our shores! Maybe I could ask him if he could stop the rain, here in dreary cold England! Imagine the smiles in Streatham, the happiness in Hull, and the merriment in Manchester if this poor miracle child could pull this stunt off.

As soon as I'd finished my final dose of teeth laser treatment I called Meredith and pitched it to him on the phone. He loves the idea and has given me some development money to fly to Venezuela to meet the child.

What a bother. Whatever happened to the good old days when you could call up a commissioning editor and get a commission right there and then??

Oh well, I suppose I could always get one of my team on the plane in a jiffy.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

POEM 5: Andy Pandy

To my dearest Andy pandy
Funny Andy pandy
In your brogues and blue Butlins suit
You are so dandy
Runny-tummy funny Andy Pandy
I'd quite like to nibble on your nostril candy
Spivvy Andy pandy with your cute button nose
And twinkle in your eye
Oh Andy
Pitching Hine's comedy ideas to you makes me feel so randy
Nobody knows
How seeing you in braces
Makes me feel
Makes me feel
Makes me feel
So god damn real.


Right, that should be enough to get me a few C4 comedy commissions in (with or without Sharon Horgan's contribution).

Monday, 11 February 2008

Why is television so aggressive?!

I have just finished a late lunch-cum-early-evening-supper with the adorable and totally cute Ben Gale (gosh, I do hope he gets through the first round of Lisa Opie interviews for the big job at Five - we spent hours talking about the shows I could give him over there!).

He's such a soft, gentle -yet rugged- man that I find it hard when he uses such aggressive language when describing the kind of programmes he needs to be commissioning: "noisy", "shouty" la la la...

Why the need to be "shouty" towards the viewer, I ask dear reader? Isn't it enough that after a hard day in the factory, or what have you, when the viewer returns to her provincial home that she then has to contend with television programmes that are literally SHOUTING at her??

I did my very best to tell Ben G that if he takes the helm at Five then together we can pioneer a totally new branch of television that is much more therapeutic and gentle. That does not bombard the viewer with hammers and sickles. That we gently welcome the hard-working, tired, downtrodden viewer into our world with positive, gentle and totally warm energy.

PS Ben said that if he gets the Five job, he'll move over to wearing contacts. I laughed! No Ben, I said, gently tapping his ankle with my new Marc Jacobs heels, no. It's your glasses that make you approachable yet have the aura of a strong lion...


Friday, 8 February 2008

Hiring a new Number2

Nearly two whole weeks have passed dear reader since I shed tears when my deputy girl decided to become 'poacher turned gamekeeper' (as my Dorset organic butcher might say in his cute, honourable and honest local accent!).

Since then I've not let anyone touch her office. I don't want to see her Ant and Dec-signed photo taken from the wall. I don't want anyone to touch her specially-knitted-by-me charcoal grey mitten gloves.

It is fair to say dear readers that I am in a time of deep mourning. My most pressing concern is that I need to hire a new deputy. Whether this could be a boy or a girl I'm yet uncertain of.

I have heard Alan Brown, ex-BBC, is cheap and available. Plus, being northern and into soccer, perhaps he can add an extra dynamic?

This dilemma reminds me of a poem by Keats. In Ode to Psyche I see a piece of work indicative of Keats's often neglected or misinterpreted take on gender politics.

When I set my company up, I wanted it to feel warm and feminine and soft and gentle. Can a male deputy girl really fulfil that remit, especially given the time I have to be away from my desk doing other important things like writing memoirs, editing new poetry anthologies, or presenting romantic television journals?

As always dear reader, I am partly dependent upon you for help, inspiration and guidance.

What do you think a girl like me should I do?? x

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Have we lost the art of letter writing?

Dear Reader,

From today I am refusing to communicate with commissioning editors via email.

I feel that today's young things can easily press a 'delete' button and 'lose' my precious emails amongst the hundreds of others.

As a nation we've forgotten the pleasure of sending and receiving letters.... the sound of a letter plopping on to the front doormat in the morning, the rush of excitement to decipher the handwriting on the envelope, the tummy-tingling feeling you get when opening it, the sheer joy of holding the paper and nervously scanning the page, absorbing every precious second.

I've decided that the lost art of letter writing should be resurrected. So from today I am launching my new Campaign to "Keep Britain Letter Writing".

I instructed Arthur to stock up on the new G. Lalo range of pearlescent paper, card and envelopes which has a luxurious iridescent sheen, and I penned my first letter to Kev Lygo requesting a humble audience with his great self.

I then wrote to every important commissioning editor in the land and informed them of my plans, inviting them to support me.

Hmmm, thinking about it, perhaps there's a largescale high-impact government funded TV campaign for C4 in this?? I wonder who could front it?

Moi perhaps?


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Saving the country's pregnant teens

My teenage daughter (from a previous marriage - a long story, best not talked about on here) dragged me to see that film Juno in the cinema last night.

How dreadful!!

I simply cannot believe our teenagers (some in the audience I saw were barely children themselves) are watching films about under-age pregancy and adoption.

These complicated grown up issues are not being given any debate whatsoever on our TV screens, and I personally think this is wrong.

As I sat in the dark auditorium, listening to the dreadful music soundtrack, I started to wonder how we could enagage young people about sexual health issues.

Then inspiration struck: Why don't we have a national Teen Abortion Day??!

E4 would bite my hand off for this idea.... we assemble all the underage pregnant teens in Harley Street under the watchful eye of their parents, and then film them before and after they have a termination, to document how they feel.

I know it is hard hitting dear reader, but not all of my TV ideas are fluffy and throwaway property shows, you know.


Monday, 4 February 2008

Letting my dear children go...

One of the things dear readers that I find so tough and so heartbreaking about my job is releasing my cherished freelance staff from their flexible contracts when their time is up.

This morning, my adorable head of production Helena informed me that I needed to make a decision about the future of Anna, a super bright mid-twenties assistant producer who has been in my protective arms for the past three weeks, working up my new ideas.

Anna has been a total star: her smile has often been the first thing that has greeted me in the morning, often after a fraught drive across town; Her enthusiasm on the odd occasions when I've had her sat in my office, going over her programme proposal drafts with my Prada red pen; Not to mention her willingness to stay late into the night and call American west-coast leg surgeons to see if they would take part in my idea about curing varicose veins.

But I think that Anna needs more than I can give her right now. It pains me to think this, but Anna should go off elsewhere and challenge herself in a slightly different environment.

Plus, I have no more of that £10K that Meredith kindly gave me to look into the varicose vein project left to spend.

Dear reader, I am not in the least bit looking forward to telling Anna that as from tomorrow she has no need to come into these offices.

I will try to inspire her to feel free and full of self-belief. That far from assuming she will spend the next few weeks struggling to pay her rent and watching Neighbours on Five, actually this opportunity is her big chance to branch out and prove to herself again that yes she is WORTH something! Yes that she is LOVED!!

I have the feeling that this latest rejection will be the making of Anna. And I am so, so proud that I have the chance to help her achieve this by letting her go.

Dear reader I feel a whole lot better about the situation now I've shared myself and this slight agony with you.

Thank you for reading me xx

Friday, 1 February 2008

POEM 4: Ideas, prey Ideas

If you are like me, dear readers, you will have realised long ago that true creativity and genius cannot be bottled or bought. The midas touch is something delicate and mysterious.... and so I was inspired this morning - whilst baking Nigella's fab cheesecaklets for breakfast - to share this insight with you of what I feel about the magic of creativity.

Hope you enjoy

Light up my brain
For I am tired and shorn
Where does my inspiration really come from?
How can I feel what I need right now?

I hear a whisper in the sullen darkness
I fear it at first, but then I enter in
and listen intensly.

It is more than a heartbeat
It is more than a stroke of the cane
I feel overblown and flush
An idea is becoming...

And suddenly I am ready to face the world again
Face my children who I nurture through the creative pain
of not having enough ideas when the meetings come thick and very fast

But I feed my children with all the ideas they now need
and I can rest safe and well,
and cycle back off into the deep blue distant sunset