BAFTA-winning senior producer Colin Farquhar reflects on grasping student opportunities, helping to set a Guinness World Record and enjoying the adrenaline kick of live television.
BSc (Social Sciences)
|Year of graduation||2002|
Your time at the University
I’d always been captivated by Edinburgh, ever since visiting the city as a child with my family. Its beauty, charm and history cast a memorable spell. When it came to choosing a university, social sciences was where my interest lay and I knew the faculty at Edinburgh was great. When I visited the campus after receiving my offer to study there, I knew instinctively it was the place for me. That instinct proved to be spot on and I now hold many cherished memories of my time at Edinburgh. The hikes up Arthur’s Seat, the daily walk through Newington from Pollock Halls to George Square, the nights in Potterrow, working on Footlights shows at the Churchill and George Square theatres, living right on the Cowgate and lying out on the Meadows underneath the summer sun all stay with me.
More than anything, I realise now that my time at Edinburgh University was about opportunity; the opportunity to further my education, yes, but the opportunities to meet and make friends with people from all over the world too, as well as those opportunities to get involved in so many different clubs, societies and organisations.
I ended up working part-time for Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA), who trained me up to work on their entertainments team, and I spent many evenings working the sound and lighting for a whole host of events and club nights across the different union venues. I also got involved with EU Footlights and the Theatre Company too as part of their technical team working on a number of stage productions. I was even part of the team who set a Guinness World Record, at the time, for the world’s fastest theatrical production – a show fully staged at the Edinburgh Playhouse in just 24 hours from the time the name of the production was revealed to us. That’s not something that happens every day!
Your experiences since leaving the University
My career path took a turn away from social sciences after graduating. I’d really picked up the bug for sound engineering through the activities I’d thrown myself into outside of my studies and I became really keen to explore my interest in this further so, after graduating, I studied a course in audio engineering.
Not long after, I was lucky enough to given an opportunity by ITV, who were up producing the Royal Variety Performance at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre in 2003. They offered me a position to work on the show in a junior production role (a show which, little did I know, I would later go on to produce myself). I really enjoyed the whole experience and realised then that working in the television industry was where I wanted to be but, rather than overseeing the sound, I actually wanted to head up and produce shows like these!
I moved to London shortly after and ITV were fantastic in giving me further opportunities which set me on the path. I’m now a BAFTA-winning senior producer who specialises in live event, music and entertainment productions for a number of different broadcasters including the BBC and ITV. I received a BAFTA award in the Best Live Event category in 2017 for producing 'The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration' in the grounds of Windsor Castle and some of the other projects I’ve produced include the special events to mark the centenaries of the Battle of the Somme and the Royal Air Force, coverage of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee events, 'The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle', 'Sunday Night at the Palladium', 'Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway', and music programming such as 'Michael Bublé at the BBC' and coverage of The Isle of Wight Festival.
In 2013 I even had the incredible experience of travelling to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan with Gary Barlow to produce a documentary and stage a concert for the British Armed Forces stationed at the base. My endeavours have afforded me the privilege of meeting Her Majesty The Queen on three occasions as well as Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Princess Anne. My job is one I’m passionate about and every day I feel grateful that it’s something I love doing. Live television makes the adrenaline kick in - it’s an incredible rush - and, after broadcasting live to the nation, coming off air with a job well done is a very special feeling indeed.
I’m now a BAFTA-winning senior producer who specialises in live event, music and entertainment productions for a number of different broadcasters including the BBC and ITV.
Study hard but at the same time have fun, enjoy the experience and make the most of your years at university. The range of opportunities laid in front of you whilst you’re there, and the time you’ll have to be able to indulge them, won’t be matched again in later life so get involved.
Say yes a lot, meet different people, investigate your interests and involve yourself in groups, societies, trips, projects, volunteering etc. You never know where anything might lead. I’d not be doing what I do today had I not grasped the unique opportunities offered up whilst I was at Edinburgh and I’ll forever be grateful for those.