The Role of the PA in a Television Studio 161 MC

446ptv_galleryOn Tuesday we pitched for the roles we wanted in the TV studio, and I pitched for PA (sometimes known as Script Supervisor) and got it.
I thought it would be a good idea to do some research into the role, I know the basics of how to do it because we’ve been doing run through’s of brief 1 minute live shows to get used to the roles, but I thought it would be worth taking it a bit further.

I’d only ever heard the term ‘script supervisor’ used to describe the person who makes sure the show runs to time and counts in the items using the script, and it turns out that PA (production assistant) is a broad role that includes elements of several different roles, or the PA can specialise in one; such as being the script supervisor.
My role doesn’t involve the paperwork and organisation that the PA role does, so I will just be doing the role of script supervisor.

Here is a job profile of a script supervisor from the BBC website:

Profile: script supervisor, TV

Sally Danton is a gallery script supervisor on The One Show.

Gallery script supervisors – sometimes called production assistants – in live television are responsible for ensuring that programmes run to schedule. This involves timing all the individual elements so that shows come on and off air at the correct times.

Before transmission the script supervisor collates information about the timing of each item in the programme, whether that’s a pre-recorded film or a live discussion. This is typed up into a running order which is distributed to the camera and sound teams, the gallery team and the presenters. The script supervisor also works with the director to create camera cards which break down each sequence, and give shot information, for the camera operators.

During rehearsal and transmission the script supervisor sits in the gallery next to the director. It’s their responsibility to contact network to check talkback, on air time and clocks. This is to ensure that the programme is broadcast at precisely the correct time, and that there isn’t a black hole in transmission. During the programme, the script supervisor times each item and lets the producer know if they are running over or under time. It’s then the producer’s responsibility to prioritise or drop items from the running order.

Sally loves working in a live studio because she can see the results of what she’s doing instantly on the screen. No post-production, no edits – just straight to air.

So that’s my job role! We will be creating scripts and running orders over the next few weeks, and we’ll be making VT items as well so we will be able to come up with an accurate running order. I will have to sit down with the director at some point soon after easter so all the timings can be organised, and the items can be arranged in the best way possible.



This is an example of a live TV running order. I thought I’d better get an idea of what one looked like! I also found this type of running order which doesn’t contain timings but shows each of the items and what order they will go in. It has a brief explaination of what the items are, and what’s missing (if any) e.g. the LOL section, they say they want something funny but don’t know what yet. It’s a really good way to see what’s covered and what they still need to arrange.



I have an idea now of how running orders work and what I will have to organise with the director. We will be doing this both during and after Easter so that we’re ready to practice as we only have 4 weeks after Easter before our assessment date.

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