Beth Mcleod

I studied A levels in French, Spanish, English and History at Collyer’s from 1998-2000. I really enjoyed my time at Collyer’s. I went on several trips as part of my French and Spanish A levels which really cemented my love for languages, which I then went on to study at university and my other subjects gave me a great academic grounding for my degree.

After Collyer’s I went onto university to study for a First Class BA in Modern Languages at Oxford University and received the Harlech Scholarship to study International Politics at Harvard University from 2005-2006.

I started freelancing for the BBC World Service in 2007 as a producer on various radio news programmes in London, following the international news agenda very closely and finding interviewees to talk about world events. My languages were extremely useful in identifying interesting stories that had not made the news in the UK. I then became a full-time producer at BBC Radio 4, which entailed a lot of travel all over the world covering news stories and making radio documentaries. I spent several months at the BBC bureaux in Brussels, Jerusalem, and Washington, and began reporting for radio shows like the Today programme and on TV for various news outlets. I made the move to TV documentaries about five years ago, and started doing more investigative work, pursuing original stories for BBC1.

There are opportunities to make a difference by telling the stories of those who otherwise would remain voiceless. For example, I made a documentary for BBC 1 about the working conditions of agency delivery drivers working for Amazon, which showed that some were being pressured to drive dangerously in order to complete their rounds and earned less than the equivalent of minimum wage. Despite a lot of legal pressure from Amazon not to broadcast, we had gathered irrefutable evidence and the programme made a big impact. Many drivers wrote to thank us for raising awareness of these conditions.

I love telling people’s stories in the most creative way possible, spotting the little details that will resonate with the audience. I really enjoy looking at the big trends that affect us all through the prism of individual lives, especially when it highlights perspectives that don’t usually feature in the national news media.

The role requires a variety of skills including the ability to talk to anybody and everybody, a nose for a great story, resilience, creativity to tell stories in an engaging way

If you are looking to get into a similar role, be entrepreneurial. If you love making factual films or podcasts do not wait for someone to give you a job doing it but start building your own portfolio and following using online platforms. Also it is often a useful thing to have a specialism when getting into journalism, so gain experience writing or broadcasting about something you love, whether that is a particular sport or genre of music or any other niche passion!

What next Beth? I am on maternity leave at the moment, having recently had my third baby, so looking after three small children is keeping me busy. I am looking forward to going back to work though the long hours and last-minute travel that the job requires, which is sometimes tricky to balance with family life. I like the idea of returning to audio, which was my first love, particularly as the increasing popularity of podcasts means there are some exciting opportunities to tell stories in innovative ways.