A TELEVISION executive will return to the university where he started his 20 year career in the industry as a visiting professor.

Nick Smith launched a university TV station at the University of Sunderland after convincing staff who said it could never be done.

Two decades on and the station continues to thrive, and Mr Smith has built himself a massively successful career in the media industry.

The 41-year-old, from London, said: “Before I got into this industry I don’t think I’d ever met anyone from it before. So, if nothing else, I hope my time at Sunderland will allow the students to feel like they can connect with me and I can answer any questions they might have about possible future careers.”

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in broadcasting, Mr Smith joined the BBC’s format entertainment development team which was responsible for developing new entertainment shows.

He was instrumental in developing prime time BBC1 commissions including Strictly Come Dancing, Strictly Dance Fever, Hard Spell, Just the Two of Us and Come and Have a Go If You Think You’re Smart Enough.

The Northern Echo:

Speaking of the phenomenon that became Strictly Come Dancing, he said: “There was a lot of discussion about how we could take the format of the old Come Dancing programme, which had been a BBC staple for so many years, and turn it into something different.

“Our job was to figure out how that could work. There was a lot of brainstorming about bringing in celebrities and making it a competition. I don’t think any of us could have predicted the success the show would go on to.”

As his career progressed, Mr Smith took a change of tack and joined all3media international as the second member of their fledgling formats team.

All3media grew to become the largest independent producer in the UK and Mr Smith is now responsible for the acquisition, roll-out strategy and international execution of numerous TV shows including Undercover Boss and Gogglebox which have each had 30plus international adaptations.

He said: “It’s good to be working with so many different types of people and so many different types of broadcasters across the world.

“It’s a real eye-opener and you learn a lot about the world. For example, seeing how Gogglebox translates into so many different countries, each with their own individual senses of humour.”

Recently, Mr Smith helped strike an industry reverberating deal with Netflix to produce international versions of reality show The Circle on their platform around the world, and took delight in international versions of Employable Me being nominated and winning prestigious awards including Venice TV Awards, Der Deutsche Fernsehpreis, New York Festival Awards, Gimme Preis, and Rockie Awards.

Throughout his career, the issue of diversity has always been close to his heart.

He said: “When I first entered the industry, and even though I was raised in London, I noticed a massive lack of diversity around me. The industry was very white, very middle-class and very male driven – I felt it did not reflect the London I grew up in.

“I hope that’s changing and I hope I can show the students at Sunderland that people from all different types of backgrounds can succeed.

“I see this as a collaboration, an opportunity to share experiences and work together.”

The Northern Echo:

Lee Hall, head of the school of media and communications at the University of Sunderland, said: “Nick Smith is a stellar addition to our exclusive list of visiting professors and brings vast experience in TV formats to the table.

"He is a champion for under-represented voices in media and a huge supporter of talented people, irrespective of their background or where they were born.

"He is a great friend to the university and our students are so fortunate to have access to his insight."