TV producer Clair shows she’s got the X Factor
YOU will have heard of the shows – X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here – but did you know one Ashford woman has produced and directed all three?
Former Highworth pupil Clair Breen grew up in Harvey Road, Willesborough, and has been working in the television business since she was 22.
Since then the 31-year-old has worked on shows including Big Breakfast, Fame Academy, Soapstar Superstar and Hell’s Kitchen.
Now living in Hackney in east London, her career started at the bottom. She said: “As most people that work in the industry would probably agree, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up with hard work, patience and determination.
“I moved to London when I was 18 and studied at the London Guildhall University. In my final year I was introduced to a guy who worked on TFI Friday. He put me in touch with the production manager and I got some work experience as a runner.
“While there I was given a contact for the Big Breakfast, and a few weeks after finishing my degree I got a permanent runner’s job on the show.
“Johnny Vaughan asked for me to make his toast every morning because he liked the way I made it. That got me a permanent runner’s position on set.”
Clair went to St Teresa’s primary school in Quantock Drive before moving to the North School and Highworth to take her GCSEs and A-levels.
A regular in the County pub in the High Street, Clair would also go out with friends to Flat Foot Sam’s or Cales to dance the night away.
She still manages to get home at least once a month to see friends and her family who live in the town.
She said: “I still call it home; it’s where I grew up and where I expect to head back to once I tire of the big smoke. My husband is from just outside of Ashford too, so our roots are firmly set there.”
Since then Clair has moved into producing and directing while working with some of the world’s biggest celebrities including Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett, Angelica Houston and Daniel Craig.
But what about the big boss himself – Simon Cowell?
She said: “I wouldn’t describe him as mean. He always gives an honest opinion and people admire him for that. He tells it how it is.
“As a boss he’s inspiring, he works really hard and always drives to come up with new and exciting ideas. He never settles for second best.”
With the final of The X Factor this weekend expected to attract about 20 million viewers, work is stepped up a gear in preparation, with rumours of performances by Paul McCartney and George Michael.
She added: “People ask about the job everywhere I go. They always ask if I’ve met anyone famous and what the judges on X Factor are like. I say they’re pretty much exactly as you see them on the show. The best part of the job is the buzz.
“It’s a really stressful, highpressured job but when you see the fruits of your labour there’s nothing better.
“You can watch back and think ‘I filmed that, I interviewed that person – they’re talking to me’ or ‘I directed those thousands of people to cheer and wave’.
“The week of the final is fullon and it’s always really exciting making a quick dash for the studio from the edit suite to see the winner perform. You get goose bumps.”
Michael Bublé and Robbie Williams will reportedly join George Michael to perform duets with the final three X Factor contestants this weekend. According to The Mirror, Bublé will sing with Stacey Solomon, Michael will appear with Joe McElderry and Williams will perform with Olly Murs.
Ex-Beatle McCartney is believed to be playing a solo song on the Sunday night of the two-day final.
Former Highworth pupil Clair Breen, from Willesborough, has been working in the TV business since she was 22