Starting off as a researcher and editorial assistant to Germaine Greer, Nottinghamshire-born Oates moved into broadcasting as a producer on The Archers, where she stayed for seven years before becoming the story editor on another rural family soap, Emmerdale, in 2010.

The Warwick University graduate then moved across the Pennines to Coronation Street, as assistant producer, before returning to Emmerdale in October 2012 to take the top job as series producer.