Stuart Cosgrove is a Scottish journalist, broadcaster and television executive. He is currently working as a Director of Creative Diversity for Channel 4. These are his first five jobs.

01. Handyman at Butlins. 

This involved making small repairs to holiday chalets – among the most common was repairing window locks. It was Minehead in Somerset and I was a teenager. I worked out what I thought was the perfect scam with two Scottish chalet-maids, I reckoned that if they listed bogus problems at their chalet I would then go and ‘repair’ them. We were caught within a week and disciplined but not sacked.

02. Assistant Northern and rare soul scene.
I moved from Perth to the North of England at 18 to pursue a lifetime passion for northern and rare soul. My job was unpacking records and then later in life acting as a ‘finder’ – an assistant who discovers records in ghetto shops in the USA, this coincided with studying for my PhD in the USA. I specialised in Washington DC.

03. Journalist – Black Echoes & NME. 

I started off writing for soul fanzines and moved to Black Echoes as a feature writer, then up through the ranks to become Media Editor of the NME, after a brief spell lecturing in Film and Media and boring people rigid about the semiotics of cinema. I was in very real danger of surrendering to the full-blown pretension.

04. Producer and Company owner Big Star.
From 1990 onwards against the backdrop of Glasgow’s reign as European City of Culture I set up and ran one of Scotland’s most successful indies – Big Star, which produced the po-mo variety-show Halfway to Paradise. I worked with my business partner Don Coutts a key ally and mentor. I loved running my own company but if truth be told its a tough gig, success brings with it more pressures and creative responsibilities than failure.

05. Channel 4 

After a few years running the indie start-up Big Star I went to a producer day and was effectively poached by Channel 4 to join them as a commissioner in first Independent Film and Video working with new talent like Shane Meadows, Clio Barnard and Paul McGuigan. It was the beginning of a 14-year love-affair that still lasts to this day I am now Director of Creative Diversity. The constants in my life.


We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.