Elvinah Xhignesse

Media Production (MA)

Growing up in Belgium, Elvinah had big dreams of working on some of the UK’s biggest television shows. She started to make her dreams a reality when she attended a BCU Open Day and soon threw herself into to studying Media and Communication, followed by an MA in Media Production. With enough skills and experience under her belt to break the industry, Elvinah is now working on the likes of The Great British Bake Off, The Love Trap and 24 Hours in A&E.

“I grew up in Belgium and used to spend a lot of time watching huge UK-based TV shows and just knew that one day, I would live in the UK and be working behind the scenes of all my favourite series. I’ve always wanted a camera in my hand, and to be writing something and to just have those opportunities to be creative.

I moved to Birmingham in 2014, but didn’t know if I wanted to stay in the city for university. But then I went to a BCU Open Day, and I just fell in love with the Parkside Building. From the rooms to the equipment, I knew that it was me. I had the opportunity to speak to many of the tutors and they were very welcoming and had so much energy. Most of the tutors worked in the industry before teaching, so they had a lot of advice and stories to share with us which really helped me.

When I graduated from my BA, I wasn’t really sure where to go from there. I’d had work experience during my degree at Sky and Universal Music, so I decided to do an MA to see if within the year I could decide what my next steps would be, and to find out more about the TV industry specifically. I’m really happy that I did an MA as it got me ready to go straight into the industry.

After graduating, my course friend got offered a job at Bake Off: The Professionals and she told me that they were still looking for people to help out on set. So I applied and they contacted me straight away and offered me the role.

After working on the show, I decided to focus on my CV and started applying for various TV roles. Then the opportunity to work as a Runner on The Great British Bake Off popped up. Working on Bake Off was particularly fun as the team was really supportive. I was able to work on the main kitchen and help to create a lot of the set, including making sure that the contestants had everything they needed. It was amazing to see how everything works and comes together.

Since then, I’ve also worked on BBC Two’s All That Glitters, which was filmed at BCU’s School of Jewellery, as well as Channel 4’s The Last Leg and ITV’s In for a Penny. I also worked on Channel 4’s new dating show The Love Trap, which was so much fun and really different to what I’d worked on before. It made me realise that it is the kind of entertainment show that I’d like to work on more in the future.

Nowadays, I’m working as a Researcher on Channel 4’s 24 Hours in A&E. Working as a Researcher is really interesting and gives me a lot more responsibility too. I also get to work closely with the producers, which is really cool. I love working in a high-pressure environment as there are a lot of challenges that I can work on and support the team with.

My career so far has been really interesting. At university, you learn about the theory, how to use a camera and how a production works. But when you’re actually working on a show, you have to learn how to think on your feet and ask questions. There is so much about the industry that you just have to learn on the job.

Working on big shows like Bake Off really helped my CV because everyone knows the show, but it can be a lot of hard work finding jobs in TV. You have to really get yourself out there.

I’m most proud that I didn’t give up on TV and kept going with it. I always had a fear that I wouldn’t succeed, but now I’m really happy that I’ve been able to have so many experiences and I can’t wait to continue to grow from here.

My ultimate goal is to become a Story Producer as I have been able to see how producers work and how they create a story within these very real, unscripted shows. I am a storyteller, and I’d love to do that one day. But for now, I really enjoy being a runner, researcher and assistant and I know that there’s lots more I can do before I get to that stage.

I AM BCU for me means being connected. If I hadn’t had friends within my course, I’d never had known about the opportunities available on Bake Off: The Professionals and what I’ve been able to do since then. I am still in touch with many of my course friends as well as the staff who ask how I am and what I’m up to. A lot about the media industry is who you know, so it’s important to stay connected.”