No need for university: BT Sport production manager Kelly Davids on taking the running route into sports broadcasting

Kelly Davids at the 2017 RTS Craft & Design Awards with the ‘Editing – Sport’ award for her work as part of the BT Sport team on the UEFA Champions League final 2017 – Real Madrid versus Juventus opener

“I stumbled into TV broadcasting,” says BT Sport’s Kelly Davids, a production manager. “My sister worked as a production manager and needed a runner for a production that she was working on at the time, and asked if I could help out.

“From that first experience, I was hooked. I knew TV broadcasting was where I wanted to be,” continues Davids. “I didn’t go to uni or take any TV-related course at college. I started my TV career at the bottom as a runner and worked my way up.”

Working up the ladder

“After my first running gig, I applied to be a production secretary, working on various non-sport related productions to get my foot in the door. I worked my way up the ladder, becoming a production assistant then a co-ord.

“My big sports TV break came when I was offered a role on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as a production co-ord,” Davids goes on. “After spending eight weeks working on the World Cup, which I loved, I was desperate to continue working on football. I was also fortunate to get the opportunity to work on the 2012 Euros.”

“Working on a World Cup and the Euros were both amazing experiences, but working on the Champions League final, being part of the planning and set up, made it a different experience which I’ll always remember”

Following the World Cup, Davids moved to the football department at IMG, working on its ESPN contract. She says: “This was my dream job working on the Premier League, Scottish Premier League, Women’s Super League and FA Cup. As we were such a small team, I learnt so much and got fantastic opportunities to progress my career.

“I started as a co-ord and by the time the contract ended I was a junior PM. When the ESPN contact ended, I moved to Sunset+Vine as a PM and continued to work on the Premier League and FA Cup for BT Sport. When BT Sport won the rights for the UEFA Champions League, I knew that was where my next adventure would be.”

Pastures new and exciting

And so Davids set off for pastures new at BT Sport. She adds: “When BT Sport won the rights for the Champions League, I knew I wanted to work on it and fortunately I got that opportunity. I loved working on football and the Champions League is the holy grail of football tournaments.

“I learnt a lot as the Champions League is like nothing I have ever worked on, due to the size and scale of the matches. Working with international broadcasters is the hardest thing about it, but it’s worth it, and I have always enjoyed being on an outside broadcast truck,” she notes.

Over the last two years Davids’ role has changed and moved forward. She notes: “The role has become more technical with the new remote workflow due to COVID-19. The changing workflow means I am continually learning new skills and developing my knowledge.”

UHD HDR production has been an exciting area for Davids to get involved in at BT Sport over recent years. She says: “Being involved on working for a company that were one of the first productions to produce UHD HDR programming is very exciting!”

Her most memorable moment so far in her career was, “my first Champions League final in Milan,” notes Davids. “Working on a World Cup and the Euros were both amazing experiences, but working on the Champions League final, being part of the planning and set up, made it a different experience which I’ll always remember.”

The variety of working on live sports continues to draw Davids to a career in live sport. She says: “I like that no two games are the same.”

Finally, to other women looking at moving into sports broadcasting behind the camera, Davids says: “My advice would be, that you do not have to go to university to have a career in sports broadcasting. If you work hard and put in the hours, you can succeed in sports TV.”


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