Duncan McAlpine: Who is Wilson Worldwide?

The ‘Who is Wilson Worldwide?’ series is a way of letting you get to know exactly who we are, whether you are a follower of what we do, someone looking to get to know a bit more about the industry, or just someone who happened to stumble upon us. The company is small in number but has a huge passion for creating the best possible content for your TV, and over the next few weeks you will get to know the people behind the ideas, when we ask them a little bit about themselves.

This week we speak to the man, the myth, the legend, Duncan McAlpine. Having worked in the industry for 32 Years, Duncan has worked on over 400 programmes in UK television. Known outside the company for his experience and skill, in the office Duncan is known for his incredibly creative mind and love of comics. We asked him to spare a few minutes away from his creative bubble to ask him a few questions.

What is your name?

Duncan McAlpine.

What is your job title?

Head of Development.

What is your job description/ what are your responsibilities?

Clever ideas that commissioning editors want and that we would really enjoy making.

How long have you worked here?

Six months. It’s my 32nd year in telly and it is more mysterious than ever.

What were you doing before you worked here?

I started in television in the Jurassic Age at BBC Drama. My first job was looking after an invasion (if that’s the right collective noun) of Daleks, shepherding them along King Street in Hammersmith. The one at the end took the corner a bit sharpish and fell over, little legs and sock suspenders revealed to the universe. It drew a crowd and I got into trouble for not shepherding properly.

What is the best thing about your job?

Working with a team of very bright girls and boys who come up with great ideas that are not only topical and entertaining but also thought-provoking and challenging. Anyone can come up with an idea for a television programme: the skill is to come up with one that a broadcaster not only likes but will put their full weight behind it to make sure the idea punches through. And when you are out in the field shooting a show, it’s such a great feeling arriving at a location, making it work for you, getting that last shot before the light breaks and leaving everyone concerned very happy. Beware of filming in India…it goes from sunlight to pitch black in a moment and driving back to the hotel is a nightmare

What is your favourite project that you have worked on?

In 2001 I came up with Britain’s Worst Driver as an idea. My mum, god bless her, was not a great driver and I wondered who is actually the worst driver in Britain? It was such an easy pitch with a great production company at the time in Mentorn that it was commissioned very quickly. Seventeen years later the series is still being made somewhere in the world. I’ll mention another….a daily live food and celebrity chat show called Destination Lunch. All this lovely food coming up to the gallery. I put on pounds! And celebs are much easier to get when there’s great food and drink available to them for an hour out of their time.

What made you want to work in TV production?

I wanted to work in tv from a very early age. I grew up with exciting things like Doctor Who and Thunderbirds, Lost in Space and the (Adam West) Batman tv show. I wanted to go to other worlds and meet extraordinary characters. My partner thinks I still live in my own fantasy world

For anyone wanting to work in TV production what advice would you give them?

It’s the best job in the world but you have to really really want to work in this industry. It can be long hours, disappointments and frustrations. But the excitement of a new commission and the teamwork to deliver is like nothing else

Any hobbies outside of work?

Strangely, I am really quite famous when it comes to walking across the floor of a comic book convention as I am known as a collector and expert on Batman. As a relaxation I do a bit of backing singing for the likes of Noel Gallagher and Ray Davies and once played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury!

Favourite programme to watch that is on at the moment and why?

Never miss Question Time and I do a lot of shouting

Any secret talents/party tricks?

With enough G & T’s inside me I can do an astonishing Bohemian Rhapsody with all guitar accompaniments

Anything else you want to add?

The highest quality in a human being is kindness

What is your favourite quote or saying?

My father’s favourite was ‘This above all to thine own self be true’ which I very much believe. Or another from a good friend of mine: ‘Never teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig’.

Share this story