From Hendon to Hollywood: The story of how a Sunderland mum ended up working on top TV dramas for Netflix and Sky

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From a young mum who was raised by her grandparents in Hendon to a script supervisor with Hollywood dreams in her reach.

At 18-years-old, Carley Solomon fell pregnant with her now 12-year-old son Alfie – but the determined Carley wouldn’t let becoming a mum so young derailed her ambitions.

But now, aged 30, Carley has transformed her lifelong love for drama into a successful career as a script supervisor on TV and film.

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Having worked for ITV, BBC, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5, Carley was just days away from working stepping onto the set of new blockbuster The Batman before lockdown halted production earlier this year.

Sunderland University Alumni Achiever of the Year graduate Carley Armstrong. Picture: DAVID WOODSunderland University Alumni Achiever of the Year graduate Carley Armstrong. Picture: DAVID WOOD
Sunderland University Alumni Achiever of the Year graduate Carley Armstrong. Picture: DAVID WOOD

“In March, I was scheduled to be working on the second unit of the new Warner Brothers Batman film in Liverpool. To be working on a blockbuster movie is the ultimate dream for a film maker,” said the mum.

“Three days before I was due to go, the shoot was postponed due to lockdown and upon rescheduling I was committed to another project. These unforeseen circumstances are beyond my control, so it’s just keep calm and carry on and hope that opportunity will come around for me again, which I’m certain it will!”

After the birth of her son, she signed up for a Higher Education Access Course at Newcastle College in Performing Arts, gaining top grades and accepted onto the University of Sunderland Drama course. But changed her course when realising her talents lay behind the camera.

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Carley, who was raised by her grandparents in Hendon, graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2014 with a first class degree in Media Production: Television and Radio.

Carley graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2014Carley graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2014
Carley graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2014

“At uni I used my time wisely and dedicated every bit of spare time I had to gain experience on TV and film sets alongside my studies. I toured with X Factor and BGT throughout my studies and set up my own production company with other students on my course, making our own content,” she said.

“I was so proud to have achieved a first class degree and made my late grandfather so proud of me.”

Then Carley started from the bottom in the industry, working her way up from making cups of tea and emptying the bins on film sets, to being a fully-fledged freelance script supervisor – which she says is ‘paramount on a drama set’.

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The 30-year-old is also writing her own projects with the end goal of becoming a writer/producer – and is tempted to go into directing.

Next year she’ll be working on film sets in Budapest and Malta.

Carley has been named the University of Sunderland’s Alumni Achiever of the Year.

She said: “When I received the letter asking me if I would accept the award, I burst into tears. My late grandfather was at my graduation, and it felt like a little sign from him and my grandmother that they are proud.

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“This award means the absolute world to me. My education at The University of Sunderland moulded me into the person I am today. Without my education I would never have attained such a successful career, met my husband, bought a house and all the other lovely things I am blessed with, including my children who are very proud of me achieving this award.”

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