The Beeb unveil their plans to increase diversity.
For much of this year, pressure has been applied to the BBC to improve the racial diversity of their make-up. Last Friday Tony Hall finally gave his response. The director general unveiled a package of measures in a speech at Elstree Studios, where he said “it’s time for action” on diversity. Measures include a £2.1m Diversity Creative Talent Fund, two leadership development programmes, new staff diversity targets and an intern scheme. Hall will also create an independent board to keep the BBC’s progress in check.
Although not a quota, the £2.1m fund – around 0.1% of the BBC’s £1.8bn TV budget – will address BAME portrayal on air, helping to support development of television projects across all genres, fast tracking ideas from diverse writers, talent and production staff. The funding will be re-prioritised from existing BBC budgets and be made available from September.
Danny Cohen, the director of television, will also support a commissioner development programme, training six “commissioners of the future”. Successful candidates will be paid to complete a 12-month placement, working in genres including comedy, drama and factual. At the other end of the scale, the corporation will take on 20 BAME graduate trainee interns through the Creative Access Programme and plans to continue its work with the Stephen Lawrence Trust and the Mama Youth Project.The Beeb has chosen not to accept The Henry Plan, in which the comedian proposed ring-fencing a percentage of the BBC’s annual commissioning budget for programmes that meet certain BAME targets.
But Henry will remain closely involved in the BBC’s work and serve as a member of the corporation’s newly-created Diversity Advisory Group, which also includes Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Asian Network’s Nihal and Baroness Floella Benjamin.
“We have talked to Lenny about the plans and we think our idea is better” said Hall. “It’s taking nascent ideas and saying let’s develop and bait them and then work them up.”
Hall has held two meetings with Henry, who Hall said had been “very positive” in his feedback about the director general’s proposals.
These proposals represent a lot of big promises, but as my mother always said ‘a promise is a comfort to a fool.’ Let’s give the Beeb time to deliver on these promises, but in the meantime, let’s not let up the pressure.
In the meantime while you’re waiting for your big break at the BBC, following the success of their 2010 & 2012 initiatives, production company Little Brother are once again offering a talented writer £1000 to develop an original television drama idea of theirs through to treatment.
Little Brother says “We are committed to championing and supporting new writing talent, and continue to develop original drama projects for television with some of the brightest emerging writers in the UK. Little Brother’s Big Opportunity III is an endeavour to discover further new writing talent, and to develop with them compelling, original drama.”
To be eligible, writers must have had one piece of their work professionally produced or, at the very least, have had a professional reading of their work. Writers who have contributed episodes to UK television series or serials (e.g. a long running soap) are eligible to apply, but writers who have already had an original single, series or serial broadcast on UK television are not eligible to enter. No prior writing experience for television is required.
To apply, writers must submit their writing CV and the piece of their work of which they are most proud, that best demonstrates their talent (this could be a stage play, a radio play or a screenplay) to:
Little Brother’s Big Opportunity III, Little Brother Productions, Temple Works, Brett Passage, London, E8 1JR.
The deadline for submissions is October 3rd 2014. The winner will be announced on their website in early 2015.
Britain’s mums complain about the male, stale and pale state of politics
Another area that has been traditionally dominated by a white, middle class male elite is party politics, and last week a poll about attitudes to Westminster on the influential parenting website Mumsnet revealed startling levels of disillusionment with a male-dominated political system.
In a questionnaire that brings home just how disenchanted many female voters are with the current parliament, nine out of 10 of Mumsnet’s members, who are 97% female, say they believe the political culture there to be sexist, while two-thirds believe success in politics is all down to what school or university you went to and the “old boys’ network”.
When asked which characteristics would be advantageous in politics, 94% of respondents said ambition, 92% cited social connections, 86% said ruthlessness, 84% said being well-off, and 78% said being male.
Sounds very much like the UK media doesn’t it?
Training scheme launched for location crew
The Production Guild of Great Britain has launched a scheme for 30 location assistants and runners to be trained and mentored by top location managers in TV and film. The recruitment drive is designed to train a new generation of skilled assistant location managers. The scheme is designed to meet the growing need for more experienced location department crew working in film and high-end television production.
Alison Small, chief executive of The Production Guild, said: “Location teams pave the way for a well-managed and smooth productions and play a key role in ensuring the UK film and television production sector maintains its competitive edge and excellent delivery.
“With the new UK tax reliefs for high-end television production and the extension to the UK film tax relief, we are confident that we will be seeing growing employment opportunities in production.”
Managed by location manager Harriet Lawrence, the scheme is heavily subsidised by Creative Skillset and will see two schemes run concurrently in the South East and in Scotland from Sept 2014 to March 2015, delivered over seven weekends.
Lawrence said: “I am delighted to run this course for the Production Guild because it will be the most comprehensive training scheme for assistants and runners.”
Further details on the scheme can be found here but hurry as the closing date for applications is June 27 for the South East and Aug 8 for Scotland.
Radio 4 address the History of the N Word.
This year we’ve run numerous stories of BBC presenters getting into hot water over the use of the ‘n-word’ – either being forced to resign over inadvertently playing a song that contains the word, or being forced to apologise for ‘inadvertently’ saying it.
Last Saturday BBC Radio 4 dedicated an hour-long documentary to the history of the word.
Ellah Allfrey looked at its evolution from its origins as a mispronunciation of the Spanish “negro” in the 17th century. She illuminates how and why the capitalised “Negro” became the more acceptable version of the word in the 1920s through to the subsequent re-appropriation of the N word in rap and hip-hop culture. Incase you missed it, check it again on the i-player.
That’s all for this week, but if you just can’t hang on for another seven days to get your next fix of TV industry news, check LinkedIn our Facebook page for daily updates.