Get familiar with Act for Change

The campaign for greater diversity in TV continues to gather momentum.  After friends of the TVC, Marcus Ryder, Pat Young and Lenny Henry took their proposal to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee two weeks ago, last week Monday the Act For Change project launched their campaign at London’s Young Vic Theatre, the centrepiece of which was a panel chaired by the director of the Liberty pressure group Shami Chakrabarti and included writer Stephen Poliakoff and Game of Thrones actress Indira Varma.

Act for Change has already set out a series of aims including the establishment of an independent body to monitor diversity levels in TV drama in 2015. In 2016 the body aims to publish its findings and secure a revision of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code “requiring production companies to audition at least one BAME [Black and Minority Ethnic] actor for every leading role unless an occupational requirement applies”.

Check out their website at


Meera Syal ‘Its like Groundhog Day’.



And like the Henry plan they have the celebrity endorsements that ensure media coverage for the cause.  Goodness Gracious Me actor Meera Syal spoke at the event and was quoted in the Radio Times.
“For a lot of us this is like Groundhog Day,” she said. “We were having these discussions thirty years ago and I can’t believe we are still having them.
“I’d like to examine the most radical of the suggestions which is the quota system. With all the good will in the world attitudes just are not changing. If things are not changing, you have got to lead people that way. I know people are worried about tokenism but that only happens when there is not a lot of talent out there and there is a massive amount of talent.”

Read the whole piece here





Oscar winner Halle Berry switches to TV

Halle Berry is the latest movie star to switch from the big screen for a television to star of highly-anticipated sci-fi show, Extant.  The actress stars in the mini-series as astronaut Molly Woods who returns from a year-long solo mission mysteriously pregnant, despite the fact that her character was infertile when she left for her space mission.
Halle recently opened up about her decision to take a starring role as she graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
Explaining how she was drawn to the character, she said: ‘’The minute I started to read it, I couldn’t put it down.

‘I thought, ”Wow. This is different.” It’s innovative. Molly is a strong female character, which I really love to play. Molly is a complicated woman with a complicated family,’ she added.
Halle said the show had the quality she needed to make the commitment.
‘I was being offered parts that I felt like I had done before. They weren’t exciting enough for me to leave my family for four months. I realized some of the best writing especially for women, was on television,’ she said.
Extant Premieres July 9 on US channel CBS, but ‘will be it be coming over here?’ I hear you ask.
Well Amazon has acquired the exclusive UK rights to and will stream the series, which has been produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and CBS Studios, on its Prime Instant Video service, formerly known as Love Film in the UK.

“Extant is a bold and thrilling new series from some of the biggest names in entertainment,” said Chris Bird, Amazon Instant Video film and TV strategy director. “Having such a highly anticipated and star-studded show premiere exclusively on Prime Instant Video is a perfect example of our ongoing commitment to bringing the very best in movie and TV entertainment to our customers in the UK.”
Under the deal, Amazon will stream the episodes the day after broadcast in the US.


Channel 4 News should not be judged by ratings, says broadcaster’s chief

Speaking to MPs on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee Channel 4’s chief executive David Abraham, has defended a double-digit decline in audience reach for its main news bulletin, arguing that TV ratings measurement is flawed.

Channel 4 News’ 15-minute reach – the number of people watching each week for at least a quarter of an hour – declined by 13% year on year in 2013, according to the broadcaster’s latest annual report published in May.

The 7pm bulletin’s audience share for its timeslot was down 8% last year, although the decline in this metric has slowed to 2% for 2014 to date.
Abraham said that the ratings decline related to Channel 4 News performance in the hour slot from 7pm across 2013.
“Performance this year is much more stable,” he said. “We know it is challenging to put one hour of news [and] analysis at 7pm against soaps. It is still significantly above Newsnight.”
He said that Channel 4 News punches well above its weight and that there needs to be a wider measurement of impact beyond traditional TV ratings figures.
“There is something inadequate about the old rating system that doesn’t include online, on demand, social media impact and [any] ripple effect,” he said. “The programme lives beyond the bulletin a lot more than it did. People are following [Channel 4] presenters more on blogs.
“Jon Snow has one of the biggest Twitter followings in the country. [Channel 4 News] is more ‘followed’ than any other news programme. I’m not sure we can row back to a time when there were only three or four channels and everyone tuned into a news bulletin. We have to come up with a way to measure the impact in the new world.”

Channel 4 news team

Channel 4 news team- falling in the ratings but still punching above their weight


Death of the Soaps?

TV soaps could die out within 10 years if they fail to stop sliding ratings, a top BBC screenwriter has warned.
Russell T Davies, who reinvented Doctor Who for the BBC, said: “I think the soaps are in trouble and need to be careful.
“You can see a television landscape in 10 years’ time where they won’t exist or will be reduced.”
And you can see his point.  Longest-running soap Coronation Street, which launched in 1960, drew almost 27 million for its 1986 fire drama. Now ratings have dropped below 10 million across the board. Corrie has the highest, regularly averaging 9 million, with EastEnders at 8 million. Emmerdale has seen a rise in viewers but its average is closer to 7 million.

Twenty years ago a soap could pull in over 20 million viewers. When EastEnders was launched in 1985 it attracted 17 million. The 1986 Christmas Day episode, when Den Watts handed divorce papers to wife Angie, attracted a combined 30.15 million viewers for the original and omnibus repeat transmissions.

As we discussed last week, perhaps they could slow their decline if the were more representative of the population? Just a thought.

New Coronation Street set

Coronation Street – is this what a typical Northern town looks like?


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.

Lee Pinkerton