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James Sexton in his premises at Smithstown, Shannon. Photograph by John Kelly

Boost for Sexton as he is called to be international juror on Emmys

SHANNON’S James Sexton has been chosen as a juror for the 2021 International Emmy Awards.
These awards recognised the best television shows that are initially produced and aired outside the United States.
Speaking this week, James said he was delighted to be chosen as a juror. “I’m a member of the board of the Emmys anyway. I’ve been a member for two years. A friend of mine invited me to an open day of television professionals and they asked would I be interested in joining.
“So I’m a member of the International Emmys and this year they asked would I be interested in being a juror. I’ve actually a lot of my work done already, you have to watch X amount of programmes and judge them, and the Emmys are on in New York in November, so I’ll be going over to that. It’s great to be picked.”
There are a few hundred jurors around the world, generally very accomplished individuals in the world of television. Getting included as a juror will be professionally helpful for James, who has been writing formats for TV shows for many years.
“It just boosts my profile again in the world of television. Even this morning I had a really interesting email from someone who saw that and wanted to talk to me about another project.”
He is best known for his role in creating Ireland’s Fittest Family, but has been involved in numerous other projects.
“I had stuff on TV before Ireland’s Fittest Family, I’ve been writing formats for 30 years really. Ireland’s Fittest Family was the most successful. I won another format competition called Celtic Formats, that was four or five years ago, it was BBC Alba, TG4 and Channel 4 Wales. They were looking for a format in their native language.
“I entered that and won it with a dating format called A Fare Date. There were entries from all over Ireland and Britain, the pilot was made and it could still go to series.
“Two years after I had another format, it was called Ripped By Summer and I signed a development deal with ITV on that. It was looking very good that it might go to series with ITV before Covid it, but it’s still with them.
“I’m working on another project now with an LA-based production company. They’re working with me on a game show format.”
As well as creating show formats, he is an associate producer on some of them. He also has a well known event management company, HIYA Event Management, which does corporate events around the country.
James also works as an MC at certain events and does audience warm-up for shows. His bow has a good few strings.
He says that creativity and application is required to create successful formats, and the Fittest Family format has gone a long way to making his name.
“Creating formats is a matter of sitting down and putting the time into it, and you need to be extremely creative. I know the business well now, I know what’s wanted. It takes time to sit down and creative.
“From the west of Ireland it can be difficult, but it’s a big world and if the idea is good and you have a history it helps. One thing that benefited me from Fittest Family is that it’s in seven countries and it took my name around.
“The minute you mention Fittest Family they know where it is. It’s like Deal Or No Deal, a big format will be instantly known in the world of television. That has really opened doors.”
The 2021 International Emmy Awards are set to take place in New York in November, and with Covid hopefully well under control by then, James plans to be in the Big Apple for them.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.
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