LJMU Honorary Fellow John Bishop came to the University to speak to Screen School students about his career and offer advice on how to succeed in the media industry.
Taking a range of questions from the students which covered life on the comedy circuit, his rise to fame, sports reporting, charitable work and acting, John gave considered, honest and humorous answers.
Talking about the advantages today of being able to take up unpaid work placements within the media, he said posts like these are beneficial in the range of opportunities they offer but added: “Remember you have a talent and don’t give it away too easily. Remain flexible but know your own value.”
He gave them an example where he had recently been asked to do a programme and so he and his team gathered all the costs together using industry standard wages for staff. However, when he handed this to the broadcaster, they told him that although they agreed with the figures, he would need to cut costs by 15%. John told the students he was not prepared to do this, as it was not possible unless he did not pay people what they were worth. He added: “I’m in a fortunate position now where they will bend for me, so it is going ahead, but that wouldn’t have been the case two years ago.”
He also warned students about the frailty of fame, saying: “I got a new agent and they approached the booker for the chat shows. They said they didn’t book me because I was too old, didn’t look right and they didn’t like my accent. Now they want to book me. I know I am here now [indicating with his hand he was at the summit of a hill] but I know the only way from here is down. You have to understand how the industry works.”
John also explained to the students how his opportunities on quiz shows and acting had all come from stand-up comedy. When asked, out of the vast range of people he has worked alongside, who he most liked to work with, he demonstrated his honest, humorous approach, saying: “The life of a comedian is defined by working on your own so if I was pushed, I’d probably have to say I’m probably the person I most like to work with!”
At the end of his talk, John spent a great deal of time having photos and talking to individual students, even delivering a special video birthday message for the mum of one student. He also gave an exclusive interview to Journalism students.