Pointless Assistant Producer, Louise Quarmby on the TV industry, pub quizzes and The Network

Louise Quarmby is currently a questions assistant for the popular game show, Pointless, with Alexander Armstong and Richard Osman. Louise’s role is to source and direct the questions contestants are faced with but there’s much more to the job than you’d think.

As a part of our The Network series of interviews we caught up with the producer to discuss her humble beginnings, pub quizzes and the best way of jumping into the TV industry. See our conversation with Louise Quarmby below.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you do and how you got there?

I’m currently working on Pointless as a questions assistant producer. In studio, I’m responsible for loading our shows with the graphics team, dealing with any question queries, logging the game, and speaking to Richard and Xander about any tricky questions or pronunciations. I also help source and cut audio for our celebrity specials. When I’m not in studio, I’m going through questions that have come back from poll to see what our 100 people have answered.

During uni I was involved in the student newspaper and radio (sadly my uni didn’t have a TV station). In my second year of uni, I applied for The Network as I had an interest in media and really enjoyed watching and talking about television. After graduating in 2010, I started off on the BBC Extend scheme (*the BBC’s trainee scheme for disabled people – I was born with a cleft lip and palate*), working at BBC Scotland in entertainment development.

My day job was to come up with ideas for quiz and game shows! Whilst I was there we got two pilots commissioned, and I worked on one as a question researcher. I’ve also worked in radio journalism and in scheduling, but decided television production was where I wanted to be! I worked as a question researcher on Ejector Seat (ITV), Two Tribes (BBC), Tipping Point and Pointless. My first AP job was on Tipping Point last year.

2. Are there any popular misconceptions people have about working in TV?

People assume that it’s a hard industry to get in to, but if you’re determined enough you can make it. I went in not knowing anyone who worked in the industry and was told it would be fiercely competitive. If you work hard, you can succeed.

3. What has been the most challenging part of being a Questions AP?

I’d say the most challenging, but also the most enjoyable, aspect is that you can never predict what people are going to say. Having to react quickly and calmly in those situations is challenging, but rewarding.

4. Have you found yourself dominating at pub quizzes since you began?

People now assume that because I work in questions that I should know everything when it comes to pub quizzes – sadly I don’t! My knowledge has improved but anything sport-related is a big no-no!

5. Where do you see your career path moving to in the future? Do you have any interest in exploring other parts of the media sphere?

I’d like to move up to questions producer, eventually series producer in the future. I really enjoy entertainment and it’s an area I’d like to stay in.

6. Can you tell us a bit about The Network and how you feel about it generally?

The Network is a fantastic opportunity if you’re interested in any facet of television – be that production, scheduling, journalism or online content. The Network has brilliant talks, masterclasses and workshops that give you an insight into how TV works. When I was there, we produced our own version of Would I Lie to You?. Being chosen for the Network back in 2009 definitely helped me get where I am today. It opened the door for me to receive career advice and contacts from Northern Film and Media whilst I was at uni, gain experience in my local newsroom (Look East), which subsequently helped add to my experience to get my dream job working in entertainment. I was in two minds about applying for The Network – my advice: do it! The television festival itself is great and being up in Edinburgh too is brilliant.

7. Finally, can you give your top three tips for any young people looking to get into the production/TV/media industry?

  • Watch TV: You need to see what’s out there, why you like it why you don’t. You need to be passionate about it
  • Take every opportunity to get involved in local media: Be that your college or university newspaper, hospital radio station etc.
  • Apply for The Network: it was a great starting point to meet people within the industry, make contacts and learn more about how television works.

Are you interested in getting into the TV world? Apply to The Network (it’s free!) and you have until April 4. You can also follow The Network on Twitter – @TheNetwork_TV