Nicola Shindler received the Special Award at the 2019 Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards on 12 May 2019. The Award recognises this distinguished producer and executive's outstanding contribution to television.
The following is an extract from the official 2019 Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards brochure. Our press release announcing the news can be found here.
With six BAFTAs to her name, Nicola Shindler is one of the UK’s most distinguished television producers and executives working today. From Hillsborough to Happy Valley, her list of exceptional work is unparalleled. This evening, she is presented with the Special Award.
After more than 20 years at the top of the UK television pyramid, Nicola Shindler can’t help being a pragmatist. While talking about her dream to continue making the drama she loves, she quickly interjects, “But while being realistic and knowing it’s a business and that we have to give people what they want. You can’t forget that. You have to be aware of what’s going to get on television.”
Shindler’s brand of practicality, however, stems from a genuine passion for the art form, storytelling and, most of all, writers. “Writing is the hardest job,” she says with clear affection. “I don’t like to waste writers’ time. I’ll say, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever get that made’, which is a horrible thing to have to say but it’s better than them writing something that never gets made.”
Before setting up Red Production Company – named for her beloved Manchester United – from her living room in 1998, aged 29, the fire of Shindler’s professional philosophy was sparked by her first job in television.
You shouldn’t have any fear...you should go for every single idea you’ve got
“It was on the first series of Cracker,” she says. “Getting to listen to Jimmy McGovern – an incredible writer – was just so lucky. He taught me that you shouldn’t have any fear; that you should go for every single idea you’ve got. And you don’t need to make characters ‘likeable’, they can be much more interesting. I learned a huge amount from him.”
Shindler has the CV to back this up: Queer as Folk, Clocking Off, Scott & Bailey, Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley – altogether earning her six BAFTA wins over the years. And now she’s working on a Netflix show with prolific thriller writer Harlan Coben.
“Anytime something made a difference has been brilliant,” Shindler says of her prolific career. “Starting with Queer As Folk, which was amazing. Then launching BBC Three with Burn It; I’m very proud of that series. Right now, I love working with Harlan at Netflix – it’s a really different, exciting approach. If you look back at our work, it’s always had elements of serialised storytelling, even when making traditional ‘stories of the week’. That’s what I’ve always been drawn to and, ironically, that’s what television has turned into now.”
Words by Rich Matthews
Paul Heyes 2013