On screen factual talent

What is On-Screen Talent Market?

On-Screen Talent Market is a Sheffield Doc/Fest initiative to connect charismatic subject-specialists with producers, commissioners, and other Decision Makers looking for fresh faces for their programmes. 

The programme includes an intensive morning training programme giving insight into the industry via first-hand encounters with established professionals, and is designed for the experts to hone their skills in presenting themselves to the media. This is followed by an afternoon of match-made one-to-one meetings between the talent and television executives.

The programme is designed and delivered in collaboration with the Academic Ideas Lab.


Meet our talented specialists

The talent chosen for the second edition of this bespoke initiative represent an impressive range of expertise – from robotics and astrophysics, to art history, experimental psychology, naturopathic nutrition and even novelty gift creation. Get to know our experts better below.



Allan is Head of Chemistry at the CRUK Manchester Institute Drug Discovery Unit. Alongside delivering the next generation of cancer medicines, he is passionate about research engagement and demystifying complex science to wide, diverse audiences. 

Watch Allan on screen here.



Britt is co-host of the forthcoming BBC podcast Tomorrow’s World, author of Rise of the Necrofauna (UK publishing date in October 2017), and a PhD candidate in Science Communication at the University of Copenhagen.

Watch Britt on screen here and here.



Claire is a research speech and language therapist and clinical academic. She is currently trialling technology she’s developed for speech rehabilitation after stroke and works to widen public accessibility to healthcare research.

Watch Claire on screen here.



Emily is an EPSRC Research Fellow at Sheffield Robotics, University of Sheffield. Her areas of expertise include biomimetic and brain-based robotics, robot and animal assisted therapy, human-robot interactions and relationships, and ethical consideration in robotics.

Watch Emily on screen here. 



Georgie is a leading technology journalist and broadcaster. In January she joined Channel 5's The Gadget Show. She also writes about tech for publications including Marie Claire, The Mirror, Metro, and Tech City News

Watch Georgie on screen here.



Geri is an idiosyncratic art historian who studies history through art, rather than the history of art. From 21st Century Mexican narco-saints to runic riddles of 8th Century Anglo Saxon relics, everything is grist to her mill. 

Watch Geri on screen here.



Isabelle is interested in people as they consume: the what, when, how and why of consumption. She is fascinated by what they choose to consume and what not, and how marketing uses this knowledge.

Watch Isabelle on screen here.



Josie is an Astrophysics research student at the University of Oxford. Passionate about all things space, but particularly galaxies, she currently brings the universe to others via YouTube videos and podcasting.

Watch Josie on screen here.



Lorna is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and a leading expert and specialist provider of community-based support for prisoner’s children and their families, including prisoners post-release. Confident public speaker and trainer. Company director.

Watch Lorna on screen here.



Matt is an experimental psychologist and professional magician. He uses cognitive psychology methodologies combined with techniques derived from performance magic to study human perception. He writes and lectures on the psychology of illusions and anomalous experiences.

Watch Matt on screen here.



Rebecca is an enthusiastic astrophysicist with a love of communicating complex scientific ideas to the public. Her research focuses on how supermassive black holes affect the shape and colour of galaxies.

Watch Rebecca on screen here.



Sam is a tissue engineer, making spare parts for the most complex machine in the universe – the human body. He is experienced across the fields of science and engineering, from building racing cars to growing blood vessels in a box. 

Watch Sam on screen here.



Moving from studying medicine towards naturopathic nutrition, medical herbalism, naturopathy and functional medicine, Shahena believes that to prevent an epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases (e.g. diabetes, heart disease and obesity), it is vital to raise awareness about how to use natural medicine for prevention.

Watch Shahena on screen here.




An untapped, cerebral, funny and creative point of difference: Shed is an utterly unique talent – a motivational speaker on creativity, product designer, performer, author, and all round engaging, must see, maverick character. 

Watch Shed on screen here.



Stephen is a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry. His research includes neuroimaging studies and clinical trials of schizophrenia. He values public engagement and has experience as a commentator and even as an Edinburgh Fringe performer.

Watch Stephen on screen here.



Suzanne is an occupational psychologist who specialises in supporting the survivors of brain injury back to work. She is on a mission to increase the understanding of brain injury and the impact of hidden disability. 

Watch Suzanne on screen here.



Tom is a Naked Mathematician at the Naked Scientists. He studied Undergraduate Maths at Oxford, obtained a PhD in Maths at Cambridge (via a trip to Antarctica), and is also a lover of rock music and maths tattoos.

Watch Tom on screen here and here.


Television professionals attending the event


Training programme

Richard Clay
Richard is an art historian, the Professor of Digital Humanities at Newcastle University, and the AHRC Commons Leadership Fellow. He has written and presented two documentaries with indies that were broadcast on BBC4 ('Tearing Up History' and 'A Brief History of Graffiti') - both were immediately available on YouTube and/or Vimeo... His forthcoming series of three films about utopia past, present and future is currently being edited and will be broadcast on BBC4 in mid-August.
Leili Farzaneh

Leili is a development executive at STV Productions. In her development career she has been responsible for developing a number of primetime factual programmes, including Dogs Might Fly for Sky1 and Messages Home: Lost Films of the British Army for Channel 4. 

Lucy Vernall

Lucy Vernall runs The Academic Ideas Lab, which has 7 years of experience working at the interface of broadcast media and research in British universities. It began at the University of Birmingham and its inception was thanks to the support of HEFCE’s Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). In 2015, Ideas Lab broadened to become available to all universities in the UK. It is the only service that works with academics to stimulate new research reaching wide audiences through radio, television documentary and factual series.


Talent Agents

Sophie Laurimore

Sophie Laurimore is an agent with 20 years' experience. She worked at two of the world’s largest and most respected agencies. After ten years at Peters Fraser & Dunlop, she took her client list with her to William Morris and there gained additional experience representing production companies and formats in America. Sophie launched Factual Management in 2009 enabling her to focus on the representation of exceptionally talented factual television Presenters. 2016 sees the launch of Factual Digital, a division which will dedicate itself to nurturing online talent who produce superb content.

Sue Rider

Sue Rider spent the early 80’s promoting Manchester bands before moving to Saudi Arabia to work in the Personnel Department of a Military Hospital. She returned to her home town of Manchester to study company law before joining indie TV company ACTION TIME as their Business Affairs Manager, where she worked on a number of light entertainment programmes and was Music Consultant on ‘The Michael Ball Show’ where she contracted major artists including Cher, The Bee Gees, Dusty Springfield and James Brown, and also a new local band called Take That. She moved to London to join talent agency JGPM where she worked with some of the biggest names in radio, helped put Street Magic on television, and introduced a number of ‘experts’ to the world of media. In 2005 she set up SRM and is responsible for developing the media career of names such as Dr Christian Jessen, Dr Kevin Fong, Dr Hannah Fry, Dr Michael Scott & Professor Brian Cox

Debbie Catchpole

Fresh Partners is run by Debbie Catchpole who has been an agent for over 15 years. She works with talent across all areas including TV, licensing, radio, PR campaigns, online and publishing. She specialises in working with experts and her list includes Jimmy Doherty, Katie Piper, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Tim Lovejoy. She has done deals as diverse as launching Laurence’s lingerie range in China to Tim Lovejoy fronting a commercial for Aunt Bessies Yorkshire puddings. For more info please have a look at www.fresh-partners.com


Producers taking meetings in The On-Screen Talent Market

Claire Judge, Development Producer, TwentyTwenty

Clare Mottershead, Executive Producer, Dragonfly

David Prest, Managing Director, Whistledown

Eliana Capitani, Development Executive, Optomen

Helena Braun, Development Producer, Wingspan Productions

Jez Lee, Executive Producer, 7Wonder

Jinal Patel, Executive Producer, Woodcut Media

John Farrar, Artistic Director, Nerd TV

Karen Willis, Head of Development, Pioneer Productions

Danielle Fallon, Development Producer, BBC Studios

Leili Farzaneh, Specialist Factual Development Executive, STV Productions

Paul Woolf, Head of Development, Barcroft Productions

Perjeet Aujla, Development Producer, Full Fat TV

Zoe Heron, Executive Producer, BBC


Programme overview

On-Screen Talent Market takes places on Wednesday 14 June, during Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Key dates:

Wednesday 3 May: applications close.

Monday 15 May: day by which selected participants will have been notified.  

Late-May: opportunity for selected talent to have a preparatory phone call with a member of the Sheffield Doc/Fest Marketplace team ahead of the day, for more information and advice.

Wednesday 14 June: Market day. The day will comprise two parts:
1. Pitch training – talent will receive pre-meeting pitch training and industry advice from experts and the marketplace team at Sheffield Doc/Fest.
2. One-to-one meetings with television experts – these will include TV executives, producers and broadcast professionals.



If you have any queries about On-Screen Talent Market, please get in touch with Jenni Tuovinen.