Diverse Writers & Directors Badly Underrepresented In British TV, But Progress Is Maintained On-Screen

Jake Kanter

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A major study on diversity and inclusion in the British television has concluded that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) writers and directors are still badly underrepresented in the industry, but broadcasters are doing a much better job on-screen.

The Creative Diversity Network, a membership network of major British broadcasters and producers, has produced its latest Diamond report — a health check on industry diversity, based on the responses of 30,000 industry figures between August 2018 and July 2019.

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The study found that there were not enough BAME creatives in key behind-the-scenes roles in the UK. BAME representation among writers and directors stands at 9.1% and 8.6% respectively, which is below the British workforce average of 13%, according to the report.

People from diverse backgrounds are also underrepresented at producer (10.5%) and series producer (4.4%) level, but fare better among executive producers (14.4%) and commissioning editors (16.5%), according to the data drawn from organizations including the BBC, ITV, Sky and ViacomCBS’s Channel 5.

The report found, however, that BAME people are “highly represented” on-screen, taking 22.7% of acting and presenting roles, compared to the 13% national average. BAME actors and supporting actors performed particularly well.

But the CDN report said that the UK television industry has a great deal of work to do on disability. It found that disabled people are only making 5.2% of contributions off-screen and 7.8% on-screen, compared to a 17% national average. It has led to the conclusion that people with disabilities are being “shut out” of the industry.

In a foreword to the report, Jill Offman, chair of the CDN and managing director of Viacom International Studios UK, said: “Diamond’s data sets our industry apart from any other, raising vital questions and providing essential insights for all the main UK broadcasters to act upon. The challenge for us now is to collectively balance maintaining the momentum we have generated whilst directing our focus towards areas where we are lacking.”

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