Insights from our team, clients and guests

Friday Five: Jordan Dunbar, Broadcaster at BBC Current Affairs


Answering the #FridayFive today is Jordan Dunbar, Broadcaster at BBC Current Affairs.


Tell us a bit about your job?

I’m a broadcaster at BBC Current Affairs. For me that means you’re equal parts journalist, presenter, comedian, researcher and writer, making documentaries which try to explain the world. I’m currently making an LGBT+ true crime podcast, a story based in my hometown of Belfast, with Long Form Audio. I’m also working on a mental health investigation for BBC1. The job is all about storytelling, whether that’s on radio, podcast, TV, digital or social media.

What are the key ingredients for success?

Curiosity. I meet people at parties and clubs and they’ll think they’ve got boring jobs or stories and it turns out they’ve given me the idea for my next documentary. I never get tired of the world – even my own problems or mental health have been inspiration for comedy and documentaries.

Energy. Presenting the BBC’s Climate Question and working on climate change daily can be draining, but what audiences need is an upbeat and simple explanation of  the problems and solutions. Having energy and passion makes your stories stand out.

Empathy. When you speak with people on both the best days of their life and the worst, you learn quickly not to judge. You start to see the world in a different way.

Could you describe a normal day?

At the minute I’ll be in the studio with a producer, sound engineer and editor. I’ll be reading the script as we play out the interviews and then making changes depending on how it sounds. Then I’ll be looking at a TV or digital script to see what we’ve filmed to promote the series. How do you explain your story in 3 minutes or 30 seconds, and not 3 hours? The most fun part is finding the perfect music to work on the sound track – I find blaring 90s dance music helps my script writing!

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

I only got here through a BBC trainee scheme that was looking for people from ‘non-traditional BBC backgrounds’. Before I was doing comedy in Belfast and working at a council. The key was that I was always creating – I did drag comedy, made mini documentaries, wrote plays, produced a sketch show, filmed sport films. A lot of them were terrible (80-87%) but they showed I had potential and determination when I applied. The BBC Academy has loads of trainee and apprentice schemes (other broadcasters are available) so it’s a great place to start.

Once I got into the BBC I spoke to everyone I could, offered to help on whatever they were making and then pitched non-stop. Learning to pitch is like spells class in Hogwarts – you find it opens all sorts of doors!

What are you reading, watching and listening to right now?

The Last of Us, and I’m constantly talking about which bits were and weren’t in the game.

For when the world feels like too much, Help I Bought a Village on C4. They really do buy villages, but nothing too terrible ever happens. Some taps leak. Some plaster crumbles. It’s very calming.

I’m listening to Restart and Splinter Cell on BBC Sounds. Not relaxing. At all. In a good way.

I’m reading Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.

Related posts