Séamus Murphy-Mitchell sees himself as a collaborator. He enjoys working with others, and knows a strong team is the secret to success. As an executive producer, he does this daily. Nothing in film or television can be achieved single-handedly, and that is what makes it such a fun business for this Dubliner.
With an esteemed resume and extraordinary talent, Murphy-Mitchell has made his mark on the television industry. Having worked on huge successes like the BBC’s 24 Hour Panel People, raising hundreds of millions for Comic Relief and Red Nose Day, as well as Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, which went on to win many awards, Murphy-Mitchell is a leader in his industry. He even produces The Adam Buxton Podcast, which is one of the most successful in the United Kingdom and the average episode gets around 250,000 listens in the first week and rises slowly thereafter. He takes on every aspect of production and strives to perfection.
“There is a lot of autonomy in television production. I like the manufacturing element. One is tasked with making a finished project, a film or television programme, which is a very tangible piece of work. There is a lot of value in having a broad body of work, which is something that television provides. There is still no other medium that is as broadly popular. The process of making any show or film involves a lot of ideas and people and collaboration, which is a very enjoyable process,” he said.
Just last year, one of Murphy-Mitchell’s most successful shows came to an end. Almost Royal was a faux-reality television series. Two young British aristocrats venture outside the palace and across the pond on their first trip to the U.S., where they interact with real-life, unsuspecting everyday Americans. The series follows brother and sister duo Georgie and Poppy Carlton who are 50th and 51st in line to the British throne. They embark on a trip around the United States to get to know the country their nasty father loved more than anywhere else in the world. In the second season, they return to the United States to launch Poppy’s media career as a YouTuber. The series made its two stars. Amy Hoggart now stars on Full Frontal on TBS in the US, with her own pilot in development, and Ed Gamble is a very successful stand-up comedian.
“The project was my baby to a large extent. I was involved in every single element. For a long time, many aspects of it existed only in my head and so it was a real triumph, and relief, when it all came together. I worked very hard on the project across several years and was delighted when it was such a success,” said Murphy-Mitchell.
Almost Royal was the first original comedy commission for BBC America and premiered in 2015. At the time, there was an increasing interest in the royal family in America. After its success on BBC America, it was sold to E4 in the United Kingdom, where it was also extremely popular.
Murphy-Mitchell saw the potential the show had and was eager to produce a comedy. He developed the series from the very beginning, casting it, and writing portions of it. For its entire time on air, he was the showrunner.
“Séamus was a consummate professional during the production and editing of the series Almost Royal. As the Executive in Charge at BBC America, I felt very comfortable knowing that Séamus was the on-the-ground Executive Producer. He met every challenge with a creative solution and worked long hours to ensure the job was done right. Séamus has a gift with talent and was able to consistently push them to deliver their best work,” said Rachel Smith, Vice President at Bravo and commissioner of Almost Royal.
Murphy-Mitchell says he and his team built the show from the ground up. He began with writing the story for the Carlton family, and once that was completed, they began casting. After finally finding the two perfect actors to the leads in the series, they filmed the pilot in New York City and Nashville. While making the show, Murphy-Mitchell and his team of producers met countless individuals and pretended they were making a real documentary about the royal family. Most of the people they encountered were very interested in the story, which made them all the more confident that the show would be a success.
“Working with the team we put together was the best thing about it. It’s not often you get to ride around the US in a minivan with some of the fun and funniest people you’re ever likely to meet. Although it was very hard work, it was always a pleasure being on the road. The other thing I enjoyed most about Almost Royal was the opportunity to travel to parts of America that are well and truly off the beaten track and meet an absolute cornucopia of odd-bods, characters and misfits,” said Murphy-Mitchell.
When Murphy-Mitchell was working at Burning Bright Productions, he had a development meeting with BBC America where they discussed an old idea that had been knocking around in which distant members of the Royal family travel in the United States. He and Clive Tulloh, Head of Burning Bright, decided to take the original idea and update it, making it more contemporary and rewriting the treatment and characters. He brought the age of the two characters down considerably so that they would connect with a younger audience and built a first-class writing team that included the show’s stars. From there, it became a smashing success.
“The series has become something of a cult hit, and it always surprises me how often people talk about it and say how much they enjoyed it. Having worked so hard on it, it is very rewarding to know that it turned out well. It is remarkably easy to make bad TV programmes, so it is a real honor to have made such a good one,” he concluded.
This year, Murphy-Mitchell will be talking about real royals in The Commonwealth Kid, a one-hour documentary that will premiere on BBC One as a signature piece. In the meantime, however, check out his work on Almost Royal and prepare for endless laughs.