The Spotlights on Entertainment Presenter Immy Barclay
11th Aug 2020
Immy Barclay tells us about her life and her work as an in demand TV Presenter and Sports Host.
So Immy, how did you get started in the media industry?
As part of my university degree, I had an Erasmus year abroad where I worked in Rome. I got a job as a runner on TV commercials and that was my first introduction to working on set and in media. Back in London, I got through the door at ITV News with a job coordinating film crews for breaking news stories and later moved into their sports department at ITN. That’s where I learnt to edit and voice sports packages covering everything from the football highlights to Tokyo Olympics updates.
How did you start presenting?
At the start of 2014, because Brazil was due to be in the media spotlight for the World Cup and then the 2016 Olympics, I decided to move to Rio for 4 months to gain knowledge about the Brazilian culture and Portuguese language. I made videos there, interviewing everybody, from beach caipirinha sellers to graffiti artists. I ended up at the World Surf League event and (after ducking under some ropes), interviewed World Champion surfer Kelly Slater. With all the clips I cut together a showreel and back in the UK managed to get an agent. My first professional presenting job was with Red Bull, hosting the MotoGP for their Rookies Cup season at racetracks all around Europe. This was my introduction to the motorsport world 5 years ago!
You’re one of the few Great British Presenters teamthat speak more than two languages, how did you come by using so many?
Languages have just always been a passion of mine as they make life easier! I studied French and Spanish at school and then worked hard to get a First in Italian at Bristol University. Later I went to Rio to learn Portuguese as well. While it might sound quite intense, these languages are all related, so there are many similarities between them. I have worked in Europe extensively and try to keep practising the languages while travelling for jobs.
Does that help in your work life …even though you’re mainly presenting in English?
It’s incredibly helpful on set, as you can understand the crew in their language. If I’m working in Italy, everybody around me is giving direction in Italian during rehearsal etc. It means I can easily be a part of what’s going on, and so we are much more efficient. There’s no time taken up with stopping to translate and check that everything is clear. It breaks any barriers and helps us bond more easily, and ultimately I think it makes us work better together.
You’re on the MotoGP broadcasting circuit, which came first, an interest in motorsport or from the media aspect?
It came from the job first, and I quickly grew my interest from there. I had to learn on my feet to be part of the motorsport community. I really love the MotoGP now and have been building my knowledge over the 4 seasons with Red Bull. It’s also meant I’ve got to work with associated brands like Yamaha. In the automotive world I’ve worked with brands like BMW and Mercedes doing live events and other corporate work.
You’ve also done coverage of various golf tournaments tell us about some of the people and places you’ve been
I was the presenter for Laureus on the red carpet at their World Sports Awards. They’re affiliated with the Dunhill Links golf tournament in St Andrews. They took me on for that to interview all the professional and amateur-celebrity golfers that play there during the week. I hosted a series called “Buggy Chat” (see below). It’s a very fun chilled out informal Q&A with high profile players and media personalities. It’s filmed during a 5-10 minute golf buggy ride around the course. In the buggy, I’ve had players like Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, and then Jamie Redknapp, Hugh Grant, Bill Murray…! I then worked with the European Tour on a few tournaments. Sadly much of the time the calendar clashed with the MotoGP.
See the Immy Barclay ‘Buggy Reel’…
So do you play yourself?
Like most amateur golfers, I’ve found it’s not an easy thing to walk on the course and pick up! I started to learn and can sometimes hit the ball around the course (on a rare good day)… but nothing special yet.
Now that’s all broadcast – what types of corporate work do you get involved with?
My most exciting corporate job was hosting a gala dinner for Yamaha, in Spain in front of an audience of 2,500. The evening was 4 hours long, with many guest appearances from MotoGP riders, including Valentino Rossi who I interviewed in front of the very keen fans! Earlier that same day I’d also hosted their lunchtime event for them. This was streamed live to their dealers globally with motorbikes being ridden up on stage.
Meanwhile, with Mercedes I had the wonderful experience of staying in Oslo for a month. It involved working each night in front of a different group of international journalists who had arrived in Norway for the car launch.
With Mercedes, I’ve also hosted their first digital global premier alongside Daimler’s CEO, Ola Kallenius. As well as the live events, I’ve presented corporate videos for car launches.
In a departure from motorsport, the last 2 years running I’ve done backstage content for the BRIT Awards. This involved hosting in Italian and Spanish for their global audiences. And just before COVID I did a series of 5 evening events around the UK for the British Manufacturing awards.
And you have experience in bigger live shows too?
I love a live show! I’ve hosted for small audiences of 30 people, then up to large rooms filled with 2,500 people. I’ll either be guiding the evening along from A to B, or hosting live Q&A’s on stage.
Is there one part of the job do you enjoy most?
The variety, adrenaline and spontaneity of it all. I especially enjoy that feeling of summoning up the concentration and focus you need to keep everything happily ticking along and under control. The great thing about these jobs is they’re quite intense. You’re in and out of a job in a matter of hours or just a couple of days. I love putting my all in while I’m involved with an event.
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