Next of the Best winner Mike Searle on why his gold win felt like “a win for casting in general”

Next of the Best Mike Searle

“When my name was called for Gold, I nearly fell off my chair.”

On May 26th, Mediaweek’s Next of the Best awards celebrated the best of under-40s talent across the media industry – including TV, radio, media agencies and PR.

Taking home gold for TV – Producer was Mike Searle, supervising casting producer at Endemol Shine Australia.

Searle has been with Endemol Shine Australia for close to a decade and is responsible for supervising the casting team on a slate of Endemol Shine Australia productions such as Australian Survivor, Big Brother, Lego Masters, Married at First Sight, The Biggest Loser and The Bachelorette along with many other recognisable shows on TV. 

Mediaweek caught up with Mike Searle about his Next of the Best win and the future of the industry.

Mediaweek: Congratulations on winning gold, how do you feel about the win?

MS: As a TV producer specialising in the field of Casting, winning gold really did feel like a win for Casting in general. Even being nominated alongside these heavy hitters of the industry was a real honour.

Once they had called out bronze and silver on the night, to be honest, I thought that was it for me. When my name was called for Gold I nearly fell off my chair… This win has been without a doubt the proudest achievement of my professional career.

MW: How does this award reflect the work of you and your team?

MS: Ultimately this award is a huge nod to the Casting Team and Department at Endemol Shine Australia. We work with the best Casting Producers in the country, they go above and beyond to find the best ingredients for the huge slate of shows at ESA.

In casting we look at the Executive Producers as our ‘head chef’. It is our job to provide them with the best ingredients for their kitchen. The producers at ESA are all at the top of their game. If they are given your everyday ingredients, they are still able to use their skills and experience to manage and produce them into something impressive. Despite this, what our team and department does is go that little bit further, dig a little deeper and continue pushing right up to the wire to make sure we find the most rare and special ingredients possible. When the hard work pays off and you provide the same team with these exceptional ingredients, that is when you get the magic on screen.

I have also had the privilege of working for (and learning from) my boss Wizzy Evans for the last 8 years. Alongside our casting manager Nicole Potter, we are incredibly proud of the team, culture and reputation that we have built in the Casting Department at ESA.

MW: MAFS, MasterChef, Gogglebox, Survivor etc are all popular shows on broadcast TV in Australia, why do you think people resonate with these Endemol Shine productions?

MS: I think it’s vastly different for each of these shows. Gogglebox for example is a chance for Australia to see a real cross-section of society on our screens and I like to think that everyone can relate to at least one of the cast in some way, shape or form. With Survivor, I feel Australians love to route for the underdog. This show gives us a license to put your ‘everyday joe blow’ up against world-class athletes and high achievers in a game where anyone can win.

MW: The Next of the Best is an under-40s award, how will today’s upcoming talent impact the industry in the future?

MS: Awards are generally for the most experienced or elite in the industry or at the other end of the scale being new, fresh up-and-coming talent. The Next of the Best award hits a real sweet spot. It gives recognition to people that have worked hard for decades to get where they are professionally and here’s hoping we all have decades left to give.

MW: What’s your outlook for the year ahead?

MS: The TV landscape is shifting incredibly fast and I feel lucky to work for a company that is pushing hard to always stay ahead of the curve. ESA has an impressive slate for the rest of the year. The Casting Department will be busy working on several productions at any given time. I love the fact that ESA gives me the license to work across some of the most exciting formats in the TV space.

Read more: Mediaweek’s Next of the Best Awards: Winners Revealed

Top Image: Mike Searle

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