The Entertainment Industry is something like an iceberg; you only see the talent on camera but the vast majority of the production is hidden away from your eyes. Producer Martin Heriot prefers it this way; that is, he likes being part of the immense hidden power that causes such a massive impact. He’ll admit that he is incredibly shy about being in the spotlight but loves creating those moments when he can see both personalities and audiences reveling in what he has worked so hard to manifest. On an almost daily basis he is working with some of the most well-known names in the business whether it’s as part of the UK’s television institution The One Show, on a Kylie Minogue BBC special, or with J-LO on NBC’s iconic Saturday Night Live. While conceding that he’ll likely never see his name in lights on a marquee, Martin notes that the excitement and adrenalin which erupts behind the scenes is an experience few can relate to on the level he has. It’s not all about celebrity either, as proven by The One Show’s reception of the Entertainment Award from the Virgin Money Giving Mind Media Awards (2018) for its imaginative approach to tackling body dysmorphic issues and other similar challenges. Being a producer allows this Pembury in Kent native to vacillate between any points of interest that he and the public find interesting. Nick Todd, Head of Production for BBC Studios Topical & Live division, has worked with Martin on a number of productions including the BBC/PBS (US) collaborative “Royal Wedding Watch.” Mr. Todd refers to Martin simply as “extraordinarily creative” and an “Invaluable asset to the entertainment industry.” This high praise is confirmed with an overview of Martin’s work on programs which have received some of the largest viewership in television today.
Though the average American may not know about the BBC program The One Show, it is immediately recognizable as one of the most popular programs of its kind in the UK. Nearing a decade and a half as a ratings champion, The One Show has been nominated and/or been awarded for its excellence by the British Academy Television, the Virgin Mind Media Awards, and others. The show’s magazine style presentation offers the kind of diversity that promises something for everyone’s taste. Since 2013, Martin progressed from live Senior Production Coordinator to eventually become the Production Manager& Co-Producer of this program. Airing on the BBC’s Flagship Channel, The One Show broadcasts to over four million daily viewers. The work of a producer on The One Show is akin to playing paintball with instructions that the final result should appear like a Pollock painting; whatever the challenges in creating the final product, it must be a refined piece of art. From the precise camera positioning for a Muppet interview with Fozzie Bear, Kermit, or Miss Piggy to producing a week long Music Festival (The One Show Music Festival) in the piazza outside the television studio featuring Robert Plant, Kasabian, Sam Smith, and others, or accommodating a giant T-Rex for a “Walking with Dinosaurs” segment; it’s nearly impossible to think of a more eclectic set of circumstances for a producer to be tasked with. The continuing popularity of The One Show and its baseline of seeming ease when it comes to manifesting these segments is a credit to Mr. Heriot’s skill and calm demeanor. Possessing an adventurous spirit goes a long way in a vocation such as his.
Channel 4 presented a Christmas night special this year starring Kylie Minogue which received over a million viewers for this one-time event. “Kylie’s Secret Night Out” was deemed such a success that it has been submitted by Channel 4 as their BAFTA submission. As Production Manager for this special production, Martin oversaw a wide variety of scenarios in which this music icon interacted with fans for an up-close encounter with Kylie. The surprise element of each encounter needed to be maximized for authenticity on camera, which presented a sizeable challenge for the production team. The enthusiasm displayed by fans on the program certainly capitalized on the wonderment of the holiday season for the large viewing audience. Pointing out that his job can often be personally rewarding and moving for himself, Martin and crew travelled to Barnsley in South Yorkshire in order for Kylie to surprise one super fan (Simon) who plays and sings her songs for the ‘Across The Sky’ theater company whose membership is comprised of children and adults with learning disabilities and autism. The excitement and joy of all involved, including Ms. Minogue, displayed a profoundly moving moment for viewers. Presenting a completely different facet of Kylie, Martin also produced one of the most hilarious segments of the TV special which featured Kylie poking some fun at herself with the aid of comedian Alan Carr (via an in-ear-monitor). The spectrum of emotions in this program is only possible through the hard work and diligence of professionals like Mr. Heriot and his team members who are challenged with exploring them on a daily basis throughout their career.
The relationship between the UK and America is long standing and was brought even closer with the recent marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. When the BBC and PBS undertook a “Royal Wedding Watch” collaboration for television, BBC’s Nick Todd once again brought Martin in to ensure this international project would come off smoothly and expertly. From scheduling to set design to product placement, essentially every aspect of this massive production was under the oversight and instruction of Heriot. There’s a difference in how these two countries perceive the Royals and this event, which Martin was keenly aware of in his approach. He relates, “With the PBS broadcast, it was more about how Meghan would fit into Royal life from her previous career as American audiences knew Meghan from the show Suits and her life in the US. With the UK BBC broadcast I did on the wedding day, itwas more information about Meghan’s background for the UK Audience to get to know her as the UK general public knows the Royal family “pomp and ceremony” well and how it works. UK audiences know the Royal history, how old the horse drawn carriages are/what they are made out of, etc. Contrastly, many American TV audiences have a thirst for this information.”
A producer is most certainly the unsung hero of the television programs we all love. While we focus on the celebrity, thenobility, and the spectacle, there is someone like Martin Heriot watchful and out of sight who has planned for every possibility so that we may simply lean back and enjoy ourselves. Mr. Heriot finds himself increasingly in demand on a global level. On any given day he can be found in London working with world’s most famous and beloved creatures (aka the Muppets) on in New York City with Golden Globe nominated actress/pop singing sensation Jennifer Lopez on the all-important monologue segment of her SNL hosting episode. This whirlwind is often chaotic but at the center of you’ll find a calm and confident Martin Heriot making certain everything turns out just as planned…or even better.
Writer : Cecil McCoy