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TV has stuff of dreams

Intrepid Channel 4 is inviting young people to turn their bedroom fantasies into reality, writes Katrina Tweedie

Dirty socks and loud music are not the only things that come out of teenage bedrooms. Now Channel 4 is looking for young people with their own business ideas - often dreamt up in the iconic sanctuary of the bedroom - to feature in a documentary.

Launching the "Bedroom Britain" campaign in Glasgow last week, C4 hopes to inspire entrepreneurial motivation among young people aged 14 to 19. Teenagers who submit the best plans, ventures and ideas will be given business mentors, and the winning entries will feature in a documentary as they are put into action.

High-profile entrepreneurs, including Body Shop founder Anita Roddick and fashion designer Bruce Oldfield are supporting the campaign to foster entrepreneurial thinking among young people.

Most schools already run entrepreneurial initiatives and many have expressed interest in the project, but pupils need to send in entries independently.

In the joint venture between C4, Media 19 and NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), teenagers both within and outside formal education are being encouraged to pursue their own business plans.

"By tapping into the creative thinking and ideas nurtured in the one place that young people see as their own - the teenage bedroom - the campaign will inspire a new generation of young people," said Belinda Williams, of Media 19.

She says the judging panel is looking for the most creative and individual ideas which will work, rather than those likely to make the most money.

Scottish broadcaster Muriel Gray and Glasgow-born singer-turned-presenter Clare Grogan joined young Scottish entrepreneurs at the launch in The Lighthouse to host a discussion with pupils from seven local schools and four further education colleges.

"As a youngster I stood in front of my bedroom mirror singing my heart out," said Ms Grogan. "I wasn't quite sure how I was going to make it on to Top of the Pops but the will to do it was such a huge thing.

"When it's stacked against you and it doesn't put you off I think there's a good chance you will arrive somewhere close to where you want to be."

Muriel Gray added: "It can be the hardest thing in the world to decide what it is that you want, but young people are brilliant at that.

"They just need to pursue it when they discover what it is they really want to do.

"Competition was always my main drive. I wanted to be better than anyone else - even if I was running a sandwich shop I would want to make sure it was the best one around."

Identical twins Sophia and Shreen Abbasi Harrison, from Glasgow, always knew they wanted their own business and, as teenagers, they started selling home-made hair "scrunchies" to fellow pupils at school.

Now aged 24, Shreen, a single mother, and Sophia, currently working in television production, have set up Indian Heather, a clothing and accessories company specialising in Bollywood styles.

"Our dad is a self-employed mortgage broker and our mum always made her own clothes, so they inspired us to have our own company," says Shreen. "Now we are trying to build up our client le and get funding to make the business a success."

Nick Lonie, 26, also founded his own award-winning product design company, 4cdesign, after dreaming of business success as a teenager.

Having started out in the business world holding a sandwich board outside an off-licence, he progressed to organising events on ski resorts. Then, at the age of 23, he set up his own company with two friends.

He said: "I always wanted to be my own boss without always knowing what I wanted to do. But I wanted to do something that inspired me, and if I get successful and rich as a result that's even better."

Jonathan Drori, a NESTA learning committee member, said: "When teenagers are under pressure from every angle to conform, the bedroom is often a haven of individuality, creativity and even entrepreneurship."

Stuart Cosgrove, C4's director of nations and regions, said: "Bedroom Britain is about creativity in its purest sense - people who are building their ambitions and shaping their future from a bedroom."

The winning entries will be broadcast on C4 in November.


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