Generic production

Source: Film and TV Charity

Working class representation within the UK’s film, TV and radio industries is at its lowest level for over a decade, according to research revealed by Channel 4 News.  

The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre research shows that just over 8% of creatives in these industries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland come from working class backgrounds. 

More widely, 60% of arts, culture and heritage workers grew up in a household where the main income earner was in a ‘managerial or professional’ role, compared to the equivalent figure for the whole workforce of 43%. 

The research comes despite myriad diversity policies and initiatives from both broadcasters and production companies designed to help people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds enter the industry.  

The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre research also revealed an extreme lack of ethnic diversity, with the report stating that 90% of those working in the arts are white. According to the Government’s last consensus data in 2021, 82% of people in England and Wales are white. In London, this dips to 53.8%. 

Further, 70% of those in managerial jobs in the creative industries are men, with just 1% of those managers identifying as Black.  

Head of policy at Creative PEC Bernard Hay said that the research shows “the likelihood of someone participating or working in arts, culture and heritage still varies significantly depending on a range of factors.”  

“Viewed together and in the context of funding challenges for UK arts, culture and heritage, as well as a cost-of-living crisis, this report shows that we still have a long way to go to address social inequalities in many parts of the sector.”  

He also called on the government for “ambitious policymaking” to help shift the dial.  

Doc filmmaker Sam Oddie, who was interviewed by Channel 4 news as part of its coverage, said: “People from working class backgrounds often don’t have that belief that they can go for what they want to in their career” and that he struggles to “do what he loves full time.”  

Also speaking in the Channel News report, actor Samira Ahmed spoke about her experience at drama school, describing it as “traumatic” and added “everyone there was predominantly white, middle class or posh.”  

In response, a government spokesperson told Channel 4 News that it is “committed to growing a creative sector with growing opportunities for all, creating new pathways for the industry through training and education.”