Following the launch of her TV review column in Sunday People and Mirror Online, Gorkana’s Yasmine Hajji caught up with Melanie Blake about her relationship with PRs, her celebrity agency Urban Associates – and, of course, her favourite shows.
Before your new role, what has been the journalistic highlight of your career?
My first commission for Hello! Magazine was a big milestone for me as I had grown up reading it at my grandparents’ house.
I also ghosted several number one bestselling books which felt amazing because even though your name isn’t on them, you know you’ve produced successful pieces of work.
Becoming the first female TV columnist for the Sunday People in over 25 years is also quite a compliment and I’m now writing my first novel so that’s my next big challenge.
Apart from watching a lot of TV, what are the key requirements for a successful TV columnist?
We live in a multi-platform media world, so I think you need to have an eye on everything and an opinion that people find interesting to stay on top. This is because telly used to be appointment to view. But catch-up services and on-demand as well social media mean we can watch whenever we like and discuss it online at the same time.
What are your favourite TV shows?
The Real Housewives franchise, Botched, all of the soaps and random comedy like Channel 4’s The Windsors. I love crime documentaries too – my viewing is very eclectic.
My favourite show of all time was Dynasty and over at Urban Associates we are lucky enough to represent Stephanie Beacham from the show so that’s quite serendipitous.
You are founder of Urban Associates ( a boutique UK personal management agency). Tell us a bit about your business.
I set up the agency when most celebrities had separate publicists, agents and managers. When I worked in New York, I saw talent agencies providing all these services under one roof which makes it easier for the client to have control over their career.
When I brought this principle to the UK it was an instant success and we’ve been the leading boutique agency for over 10 years. Now, this method is common practise for agencies. But back then we were the first to adopt it so I think that’s why we’ve stayed at the top. We had a big head start.
In your column you crown a “star of the week”, how do you decide who gets picked?
I pick people who really stand out in the schedules. I change it weekly and it can be a presenter, actor, reality star or even a politico. If you are on telly and you create a “water cooler” moment you might well get the crown!
How do you prefer to be contacted by PRs and what is the most helpful thing they can do for you?
I love emails that it keep it simple. Five lines about a show and a link to a preview will most likely get my viewing. Also, if you do a selection of quotes and breakdown of the episode you go straight to the top of the queue.