Frank Ash runs creativity training for BBC programme makers. While helping them to realise their creative potential, he also hankers after creative recognition for himself.
What challenges does your job at the BBC pose?
Every programme maker believes, quite rightly, that they are innately creative. Our challenge is to help them to maximise their creativity and make it more relevant to our audiences by embedding a more focused and disciplined process of content innovation.
What area of staff development are you currently addressing?
Our current priorities are in developing storytelling and writing skills for programme makers at all levels and across all platforms. We’re also working with a number of programme development teams to help them to generate and develop new and distinctive content ideas that will knock spots off our competitors.
How and why did you get into training?
I was a TV factual programme maker in the BBC for a number of years, and I discovered, in the latter part of my production career, that I actually got more pleasure and fulfilment from nurturing and developing the raw talent of my directors and producers than making programmes myself. Training was a natural progression.
What’s the best or most memorable training event you’ve attended?
A Robert McKee story workshop when I was a producer/director. It was a penny dropping moment – as I realised that all the things I did instinctively as a storyteller could be analysed, deconstructed, articulated and improved, and passed on to others.
And the worst?
A so-called creative workshop in America that consisted of the participants being forced to form themselves and each other into an endless series of ‘human sculptures’ to express their inner selves!
What’s the key to putting on a successful course?
Knowledge of the participants and a clear sense of the objectives before designing the content a love affair with the subject an inspirational approach to delivery and a passionate desire to pass on skills, knowledge and know-how.
How do you measure the impact of training?
By clearly identifying achievable outcomes and objectives that meet strategic, business needs and by designing content and interventions that are transferable and relevant to the participants and helping them to refine and improve the stories they’re currently telling.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Writing sad and depressing novels in a beach house on Rhode Island.
When you were younger, what did you want to be?
A winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
What, in life generally, really annoys you?
Bureaucracy and political correctness.
What was the first record you bought?
She Loves You by The Beatles.
What book are you currently reading?
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.
Who’s your hero?
What’s the best piece of training/L&D advice you’ve been given?
Be yourself – it’s not an acting job.
How do you relax?
Walking the dog and rehearsing my acceptance speech after receiving the Pulitzer Prize.
Frank Ash is manager of the creativity and audiences team in training and development at the BBC, based at its White City complex.