10 questions with... Tess Alps, chair of Thinkbox

Tess Alp,s Thinkbox chair answers The Drum's 10 Questions

The media and marketing sector is ultimately about people. In this weekly series, The Drum speaks to professionals across the sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by Thinkbox chair, Tess Alps.

What was your first ever job?

When I was 16 I got a Saturday morning job in a doctors’ surgery, mainly finding people’s notes and then refiling them. I now realise I could have discovered all sorts of goings on in the small town where I lived but it just never occurred to me.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

Digital. Everyone knows that I hate it. People use it as if it’s a synonym for the internet. My distaste is not just pedantry; it causes great confusion in the world of TV where it gets used variously to mean maybe non-PSB channels, set top boxes or online TV. But all TV in the UK is digital including all linear broadcast TV.

What, in your opinion, is the worst TV show ever made and why?

So many contenders. I’m going to go for 3-2-1, a game show from the ‘80s, hosted by Ted Rogers and starring a dustbin. The clues were utterly nonsensical and must have been written either by aliens or total stone heads.

Who would you most love to share a coffee with?

I’m already lucky enough to be able to share a tea (I hate coffee) with all the people I most love to spend time with. Of the people I don’t get to meet, there is quite a long list of dashing TV actors I could choose from. But I think I am going to say George Eliot. Yes, I know she’s dead.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

I’d be lying if I didn’t say getting the Mackintosh Medal. I’m not normally into awards but this one stands for something I care about. I shall keep trying to deserve it.

Theatre or cinema?

Well, I went to drama school and I’m a BAFTA member, so I love both. I guess I have had more ecstatic highs in the theatre but also far too many dreary lows. I now just walk out. I can watch most films and get something positive from them. Last year, my favourites were The Phantom Thread and Paddington 2. But these days, many TV series deliver cinematic quality on a broader, deeper canvas which is why so many theatre and cinema writers, directors and actors now love to do TV too.

First single or album you ever bought?

Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Best advice you ever heard or received?

Don’t run way from company politics but, of the four political creatures, try to be the wise owl (not the innocent sheep, stupid donkey or wily fox). Thank you, Miranda Kennett.

Which do you prefer; Breakfast/lunch or dinner for a meeting?

I loathe breakfast and refuse all invitations. Lunch and dinner are equally good, as are afternoon tea and supper. I am at my best with a knife and fork in my hands.

What one question do you never want anyone to ask you?

When are you going to retire?

Read other installments of The Drum's 10 Questions With... series here.

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