History & True Crime

Friday Five: TV Executive and Film Maker Jonathan Levi


Answering the #FridayFive this week is BAFTA-award winning documentary maker Jonathan Levi.

Tell us a bit about your job?

I make TV shows and write popular non-fiction books with my wife and co-author Emma French. Our most recent book was the Sunday Times top ten bestseller Inside Broadmoor, and my last TV show was a factual drama series I made with Jeff Pope for ITV called Hatton Garden.

What are the key ingredients for success?

It’s a cliché but I think above all else it’s hard work and perseverance. Timing is everything and to be honest I think great ideas are everywhere. It’s being lucky enough to come up with a strong idea at just that moment when what you are suggesting matches the appetite of a buyer that lights that spark of success.

Describe a normal day?

I wake up about 4am and listen to an old friend Steve Allen on LBC while I check email. I then watch Good Morning Britain and the day begins usually with some drop offs to school and nursery.

I try to keep writing and TV separate and right now I’m working with Fulwell 73 on adapting my Broadmoor book into a returning drama. Our superstar writer is in the US, hence the 4am emailing.  I’m developing a big true crime TV show with Ross Kemp at the moment, as well as working up some factual formats for Netflix, and just starting a new book, so time management is very important right now.

For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?

I got into TV via Radio 4 and I got into radio via work experience. I knew no one and am proud never to have relied on nepotism to get on. Believe in yourself and just don’t give up no matter how much you get rejected.

What are you reading, watching and listening to now?

Right now – amongst dozens of other things – I’m watching Ray Donovan on Sky, Sex Education on Netflix and The Masked Singer on ITV. I try and keep up with any new factual or entertainment format that launches, and to relax I watch drama, endlessly and without a stop button.

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