Meet the Things Unseen team – Saba Zaman

What does your role on Things Unseen involve?

My role is to set up our programmes by finding the most interesting people to cast, which involves a lot of research, writing, talking and listening. I produce and do some editing too.

How did you get to work on Things Unseen?

I was fortunate enough to already be working in broadcasting, specifically for the BBC, and had experience in working in print and news too. I have always had a keen interest in religion and ethics, which I followed through onto university level.

Not many people have the opportunity to use their degrees in careers; so I feel extremely lucky to work in an industry and within a specialism that I’m fascinated by, thoroughly enjoy and respect.

When the opportunity to work for CTVC knocked at my door, I gladly jumped at the chance. They haven’t been able to get rid of me since!

What has been your most difficult assignment?

Our two-part BBC World Service series on Oman has been the most challenging and rewarding. It required months of strategic planning, factoring in the budget and cultural sensitivities, overcoming language barriers and time zones, overseeing recording logistics and understanding the editorial values of another country, all of which doesn’t stop even when you’re recording on location.

If you think its hard finding contributors in the UK, imagine how tough it is to find the people and the stories aboard.

What has been the hairiest moment in your programme and podcast-making career?

It’s always a nerve racking time when you are recording a programme, but this can be heightened when a guest cancels at the last minute (even the best-laid plans can often go awry)! Suddenly, you’re in overdrive scouring far and wide to find a replacement at the 11th hour, to complete the recording line up. Through perseverance and team work, a programme always comes together in the end.

Which has been your favourite edition of Things Unseen and why?

It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to interview a Middle Eastern rock star in your glad rags – decked from head to toe in uber flashy Asian wedding gear!  After waiting for a lengthy period of time at a hotel reception – where I happened to be attending a wedding – Sami Yusuf turns up fashionably late and innocently congratulates me on my upcoming nuptials. That’s a moment I won’t forget.

Despite the comical events, Sami’s interview for The Word offers an interesting perspective of the importance of the Bible through the prism of Islam.

Another favourite edition is The Word with Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, simply because he is man of faith whom I admire considerably.

If you could take just one book to a desert island, what would it be?

One book wouldn’t suffice.  I’d take a collection of novels in a single copy, which technically counts as one book.

It would be a toss-up between Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, the aim being that I could sleuth my way off the island!

And one piece of music?

I would take anything that would remind me of my misspent 90s youth. MC Hammer, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, New Kids on the Block.

Which person – living or dead – do you most admire and why?

I have a great deal of admiration for Mary the mother of Jesus. At a time when she was persecuted by the community and deserted by loved ones, she remained steadfast in her faith and her convictions and gave birth to one of the greatest men to walk the earth. She is held in high esteem in Islamic tradition.

What would your perfect day be?

I ‘d start the day performing morning prayers outdoors, under the sunrise, spend the afternoon with friends and family, take a stroll, pop into a church or mosque for some quiet reflection, do some star gazing, and use the remainder of the evening to indulge in a few good books, a pot of tea and a cake or two.

If you could choose any guest at all for Things Unseen, who would it be and why?

Pope Francis. To me, he is a man of principle, authenticity and honour, a man who invites and unites, rather than divides which are key traits for any person in authority.

Tell us a secret.

I’m bald underneath my headscarf.


Things Unseen Podcast - Saba Zaman

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