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Saturday, 20 October 2018

It's time for comedy 50:50

ITV’s Controller of Comedy Saskia Schuster hosted an event last night (October 18th) with RTS, The Writers' Guild, Era 50:50, Funny Women and BAFTA to launch Comedy 50:50, an initiative seeking to implement measures to address the gender imbalance in comedy, starting with writers.

The event brought together producers, writers and agents and was opened by Schuster, who talked about her plans to build on ITV’s Social Partnership agreement to increase the number of female writers in comedy teams on ITV productions. The event also heard from Deirdre Mullins, Bafta-winning actress and founding committee member for the Equal Representation for Actresses campaign (ERA 50-50).

The event gave producers, writers and agents the opportunity to network, including focussed introductory producer/writer meetings, with each producer hosting at least three, ten minute introductory meetings with female writers at the event.

The event also gave the attendees the opportunity to hear about and engage with a number of other aims Comedy 50:50 plans to drive forward, including:

Creating an independent database of female comedy writers, which can be accessed free of charge by producers.   This is not related solely to ITV productions, this is for use on any show for any broadcaster.

Setting up mentorships whereby established writers commission less experienced writers to write an episode of their show and will work alongside them in the storylining and writing process. This suggestion has come from more established writers who benefitted from this early in their careers and perceive that there is generally less occurrence of this practice in the industry today.

Regular targeted networking that sets up short introductory meetings between writers and producers to expand the network of contacts.

Saskia Schuster said "A few months ago a disgruntled female writer crossly pointed out to me that commissioners have the privileged opportunity to create change. She was right. And a bit scary. This is the start of that change, not with the ambition of meeting targets or quotas, but of changing our comedy culture. We can’t be making the best shows possible for our audiences if our shows aren’t inclusive or representative of the gender diversity of our viewers.”

Ade Rawcliffe, ITV’s Head of Diversity in Commissioning closed the event, which was held at ITV’s Waterhouse Square Offices in Holborn on Thursday night (October 18th).

Comedy 50:50 is supported by the RTS, BAFTA, The Writers' Guild, ERA 50:50 and Funny Women, who helped in extending invites to female writers with at least one TV, theatre or radio credit.

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