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TV pioneer and English National Opera CEO Stuart Murphy brings professional pitching tips to ambitious students

Published: 10 March 2022

  •   Students
students sat in semi-circle with Stuart Murphy

York St John University Honorary Graduate and CEO of English National Opera, Stuart Murphy, brought insights from his incredible TV and theatre career to students this week in guest lecture and seminar sessions. 

Stuart was awarded a Doctor of Letters and became an Honorary Graduate of York St John University in 2018 in recognition for his outstanding achievements across television and theatre.  

And, with the title of the country’s youngest TV channel controller when he ran UK Play, a music and comedy channel co-owned by BBC Worldwide, Stuart’s potential to inspire and ignite ambition in students is unquestionable. 

During his visit to the University, Stuart offered top tips for aspiring creatives as he reflected on his career, including the launch of BBC Three and becoming Director, Entertainment Channels at Sky, overseeing Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Arts and the launch of Sky Atlantic. Stuart brought genre-defining shows like Gavin and Stacey, Bodies, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, among others, to UK screens.  

The industry expert joined third year students in seminar sessions to offer feedback and pitching pointers. This unique chance to present to Stuart has prepared students for their upcoming pitching opportunity with former ITV commissioner Siobhan Greene, who now runs her own production company 110%. 

Stuart Murphy said: “I really got a sense of the students’ ambition and the impact they will have within their creative industries.  

“This is a huge motivation for me visiting the university - to instill confidence in those who want to have a career in TV and theatre, and let students know that there is a place for everyone. It was fantastic to hear their ideas and experience the energy the students are bringing to their work. I was really impressed by the professionalism of their pitches and presentations.   

“My takeaway for the students as they progress in their careers is: be your own shape. This means not being afraid to tell your story and to have confidence in the unique, unusual and sometimes rough edges we have all acquired through life. These edges bring new perspectives and great potential.” 

Third year student Bayli Simpson said: “Stuart was charismatic and so approachable. It was amazing to get direct feedback on my ideas in an open setting and with someone as knowledgeable as Stuart. Having real industry leaders and shapers in our sessions brings our teaching to life, and I felt inspired.” 

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