New Report Says British TV Has A Severe Lack Of Female Directors

In every genre other than body and health programmes. Could it get more depressing?


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

Ahead of the TV BAFTAs this Sunday, and a day after Cannes film festival head judge Jane Campion said the lack of female film directors was 'undemocratic', we get the depressing news that there just aren't that many female TV directors being given jobs in the UK.

The report by Directors UK collated information from over 28,200 episodes of TV made by the country's best production companies. And not only is the proportion of female directors really low, but it's dropped from 2011 to 2012. For every single genre of TV output, the proportion of female directors was way below the 50% mark, apart from 63% for factual programmes about body and health and 61% for programmes about lifestyle and home. Which says a lot about the stereotypes of where women are allowed to make decisions.

BAFTA-winning director Beryl Richards, who is vice chair of Directors UK, tried to explain why this disparity's happened: 'There are a few women who are really experience and known and they work a lot. If they [production companies] can't get those women, it'll go to a man. Because they don't know any women beyond this four or five.'

There are certain TV programmes which have never ever been directed by a woman. These include QI, The* IT Crowd*, and The Inbetweeners. There are even more programmes where women account for fewer than 30% of the directors, including Holby City and Coronation Street.

They've identified the problem happens very early on in the process, where young women just aren't being given the opportunities to become directors. 'We’re looking at the next generation, and that’s the sort of place they’re coming through. You’re narrowing it very early on, they can’t even get through the door to start with,' Richards continues.

Apparently, broadcasters weren't aware of how bad things were until the report told them so, because they use freelance teams so they're not always keeping track of how disproportionate their make up can be. The report has called for decision makers to step up their game, though, as they want a minimum of 30% of all TV programmes - no matter what their subject - to be directed by women.

On the plus side, it really won't take a lot of people to make the difference. Women directors are out there, it's just the people in charge who need to make some better decisions. 'Because these decisions are being made so high up, to be honest, there’s about six people who need to change their minds on this, and it could effect the most enormous amount of change,' says Richards. Let's hope those six people get a move on.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Picture: Rex

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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