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Being Real AND Being Entertaining: the Mastery of Gayani Wanigaratne

Gayani on location for I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here

Reality television; so many of us love it. Gayani Wanigaratne shares this but what sets her apart from almost everyone else is that she has a hand in creating these shows beloved by so many. The brutal honesty and drama of the genre has made it the most popular TV format in recent times and no one sees the inner workings more than Gayani. Her work with Britain’s ITV has included such international sensations as Britain’s Got Talent, Love Island, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, This Morning and other key ITV brands. Working with the Director of Television & the Director of Programming & Strategy, she helped create and deliver these programs to the ITV Audience. Many of these would go on to become not only viewed but presented in their own cultural incarnations across the planet. Wanigaratne and her coworkers have been a part of the redirection of modern television. In a career spanning edit producer to commissioning executive, she’s empowered hits as well as brought to light the next group of hit shows.

Britain's Got Talent (BGT) is the seminal program which has spawned numerous iterations in the Got Talent franchise created by Simon Cowell. Distributed by Fremantle and broadcast on ITV, BGT has numerous awards from the TV Quick Awards (UK), National Television Awards (UK), and multiple BAFTA Awards (Best Entertainment Programme and Outstanding Entertainment Programme). Ameila Brown (Managing Director of Thames Television) had become aware of Gayani’s exceptional work as an edit producer on X-Factor and asked her to contribute the same to BGT. Raw footage of auditions/performances were crafted by Gayani and the editor into the polished yet captivating segments befitting this award-winning hit series. Millions of viewers tuned into each episode of BGT, unaware that it takes a great deal of expertise behind these segments to make them so entertaining in a natural manner.

Rather than those seeking fame, Gayani’s work on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here focused on those instantly recognizable to the audience. This survival series airing on ITV (with BAFTA nominations and wins including Best Reality & Constructed Factual Series and Best Entertainment Performance) is perhaps so popular because it humanizes the most famous individuals by placing them in extremely challenging scenarios. Wanigaratne’s work on the show was all consuming, liaising with Directors & Edit team as well as conducting celebrity interviews, but working on location offered some welcome benefits. Recalling the season shot in Australia, Gayani notes, “Coming home to a stunning view of the Ocean on the Gold Coast and being able to have a day off on the beach was amazing; especially knowing that it was winter back home in London. You cultivate a sort of ‘location family’ when you’re out for that long. Creating something great together that the public really embraces is a great feeling. Getting to see scenes that you pitched to the edit make it on screen is the best part!”

So many countries have produced their own versions of these hit shows. Being a part of producing the original versions of these programs is something that any television professional would be proud of; Gayani Wanigaratne is constantly mindful of this. As a commissioning executive for a number of other programs, she’s been able to springboard productions that may be the next generation of international hits. She remarks, “Whatever the ratings are, you want to do your best. When you give it your everything, I truly believe that translates on screen.”

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