It really is LaLa Land - says the Woolavington man who traded up countryside and county pubs for the lights and sights of California life.

Nikolas O’Dell, 44, moved to Somerset with his family when he was 12-years-old, but now lives in Hollywood where he works as a TV editor.

Nikolas was a keen tennis player and achieved a scholarship to Millfield School, Street, where he attended as a day pupil. He then went on to Nottingham University, before being offered a job at a production company in London.

Then he was offered a job working on a new type of TV programme, a reality show known as Big Brother. Since then, the genre has grown in popularity, leading Nikolas to have worked on shows such as The X Factor, The Apprentice, Top Gear and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

This is The West Country:

Nik at work. 

Mr O’Dell said: “After finishing Nottingham university I knew I wanted to get into film. I got a job as a runner, making teas and coffee and running errands, at a post-production facility in London.

“I eventually worked as a clapper loader on short films in London then on a film in France starring Christian Bale and John Hurt called All The Little Animals.

“It was a great adventure and when I got back I got a job at a post-production company at Pinewood Studios in 1998.

“I learned my craft there as an assistant editor, but when an opportunity came up to edit a new type of TV show, known as ‘reality’, I jumped at the chance. That show was Big Brother.

“It was still a very new format and no one had ever heard of reality TV before. Since then, the genre has exploded, and I’ve worked on shows ranging from The X Factor to the Apprentice, Top Gear as well as I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, produced and edited in Australia.”

Living in Hollywood has its perks, like bumping into a celebrity while you’re out for dinner, but for Nikolas, he misses the woods and hills that Somerset residents are so used to, and the country pubs, of course.

“It’s funny because in LA you just see celebrities going about their business,” He added.

“I saw Anthony Hopkins recently in my local Starbucks after I did the school run and Christian Bale also sat next to me in a Venice Beach restaurant.

“The incredible thing is that Los Angeles is such a creative hub that you can bump into the most talented people in your field at your son’s team football game. It really is LaLa Land.

“I miss the country pubs, you can’t find a decent pub in Los Angeles.”

Nikolas and his family, wife Oginia and his 7-year-old son, visit the home county every year. He says his son can’t believe how green the country side is.

He said: “My son can’t believe how green the countryside is. LA is basically a desert and you have to drive far to see the kinds of forests and hills that you see in Somerset on your doorstep.

“With all the travelling, I miss my mum. She’s lived in Somerset for 19 years and has only just stepped down as the ladies captain at Avenue Tennis Club in Burnham-on-Sea. She still plays four times a week as well as cooks for all the youth tournaments and fundraisers.”

Nikolas’s best advice for young people in Somerset hoping to have the dream career he has is to get a reputation for being reliable, and to let your determination drive you.

“It is about proving your mettle to a certain extent,” he said.

“You learn on the job and make contacts. A lot of the TV world is based around recommendation, so if you can get a good reputation as being reliable and on it then you are halfway there. And seize the moment to take opportunities, leaving family behind was really tough, but you can’t pass up the chance when Hollywood calls. And most importantly, never give up, if you are determined you can get there.”

Nikolas’s usual day entails going through 100s of hours of TV footage, and deciding the best bits to put into the final show. He works closely with the show’s producers and directors to figure out the story they want to tell to the viewer. Once that’s settled, he whittles it down, then adds the music, sound and visual effects to make it the masterpieces we see on our TV screens.

He said: “On a programme like Top Gear I will be sent new music releases from record labels that I’ll try to incorporate into a cut. That show is pretty stylistic so I’ll spend time coming up with new visual tricks to make cuts look fresh and different.

“On The Bachelor, a show I’m currently working on in the US, the emphasis is more on overall narrative so I’ll spend less time on visual trickery and more time on finding the best interviews that back up what is happening in the story.

“Once I’m happy with my cut it will be shown to senior executives. There will often be several screenings with show executives and then executives at the network, channel in the UK, until everyone is satisfied with the look of the piece.

“A good editor not only needs to be able to put a show together, he or she also needs to be a good mediator and diplomat.”

He spends most of his days cutting together unscripted TV shows that he prefers to watch scripted dramas in his down-time. His favourite shows are The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, and Game of Thrones.

He added: “Coming to the US to work with Simon Cowell on a huge production like America’s Got Talent has been a highlight. It’s an incredibly successful global format and the team that run the show here are great to work with.

“I’ve worked on Simon’s show for many years and there has always been a unique buzz around them.

“It’s hard but you can’t beat the feeling that millions of people are watching your work.”