BBC boosts training and development opportunities in Scotland with appointment of two new trainee editors on This Farming Life

This Farming Life, the BBC’s popular series that follows the struggles and triumphs of Scottish farming families, has recruited two trainee editors to work alongside experienced edit teams to give them valuable experience and coaching.

The ambition of the initiative, co-funded by BBC commissioning and Creative Scotland, is to establish new talent that could potentially return to work on the series in future years  and increase the talent pool of editors in Scotland.

The scheme follows the hugely successful template established by the production company Dragonfly alongside BBC commissioning editor, Beejal-Maya Patel on the series, Ambulance. Over the last five years, eight trainee editors have developed their skills by working on the series in  the North East and North West of England. This Farming Life has taken on two junior editors - Kirsty McGrath and Iqbal Khokhar - who will work closely with experienced edit teams over nine week training blocks.

This Farming Life (12x60) is co-commissioned by BBC Scotland and BBC Factual, and is currently in production with  its sixth series, which is due to broadcast in September 2023. The series is entirely Scotland based - both in terms of production and on-screen cast - and reaches audiences around three million. It is produced by BBC Studios and executive produced by Jo Roe, the BBC commissioning editor is Fran Baker.

Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, said: “Great editing talent is fundamental to the documentaries we commission so we’re really happy that this scheme is giving two trainee editors this opportunity on such a successful network documentaries brand. We have seen fantastic results with Dragonfly’s Ambulance scheme which has been a real boost to up and coming editing talent out of London and we’re thrilled to follow the same model on This Farming Life with our colleagues at BBC Scotland and Creative Scotland.”

Tony Nellany, BBC Scotland Channel Manager and Commissioning Executive, said: “This Farming Life is a major ongoing co-commission for BBC Scotland with BBC Factual and we are delighted to have this initiative providing training and development for new production talent here, which fits very much with our ethos of supporting developing the ‘agriculture’ of the TV industry in Scotland.”

Dani Carlaw, Screen Scotland’s Head of Unscripted, said: “We’re experiencing a period of strong opportunity for unscripted production. For Scotland to continue to compete at the highest level, it’s more important than ever that we support and train emerging talent. As part of that work, this is a fantastic opening for editor training on a fascinating and well-loved returning documentary series made entirely out of Scotland.”

Jo Roe, Executive Producer BBC Studios Productions, said, “It’s a real pleasure to be part of a properly resourced and much needed scheme to grow editing talent in Scotland. It has allowed us to set up bespoke training with our best documentary editors and surrounding teams, helping our two talented junior editors develop and build their impressive skill sets.”

Kirsty McGrath

Kirsty has been working in television for nearly eight years. She has spent much of the past two - three years working for BBC Scotland Productions, who spotted her flair for offline editing. She has well-rounded experience, from going out on shoots and operating cameras, to offline editing a number of shorts for BBC Digital’s Loop and TUNE, and most recently a 3x30 series for BBC Scotland.

“I am absolutely delighted to have been selected for the training scheme. After working as a junior editor and self-shooting/editing researcher for a number of years, and knowing that I wanted to focus my efforts on becoming an offline editor, it felt like the traineeship came up at just the right time. It will be an invaluable experience to be able to hone my craft with the guidance of an established offline editor, whilst also getting feedback and support from the wider team. Gaining on the job experience whilst still being given the space to grow and learn is such a rare luxury in the television industry.”

Iqbal Khokhar

Iqbal joined the industry in April 2020 as an edit assistant, and has rapidly progressed to assistant editor. He has gained broadcast and SVOD credits for Amazon Prime, BBC, CH4, CH5, Sky, Discovery + and Netflix, and has worked for several indies in Glasgow, including Firecrest and Tern TV. Iqbal was recently selected to be part of the Grierson DocLab Editing Programme and is currently working on a feature doc for Netflix.

“I am absolutely delighted to have secured a place as a trainee editor on "This Farming Life". My passion lies in documentary storytelling and this incredible opportunity allows me to further develop my storytelling skills. Having gained several credits as an assistant editor on various documentaries and more recently as an additional editor, I am keen to progress to an offline editor whenever the opportunity arises. Schemes like this are important in creating a sustainable industry and pipeline of talent in Scotland. I can't wait to get started!”

Header image: Joanna and Donald, Loch Ness.