Comedy 50:50 launches

ITV has set up an initiative with WGGB, Royal Television Society, ERA 50:50, Funny Women and BAFTA to implement measures to address the gender imbalance in comedy, starting with writers

According to ITV’s Controller of Comedy Saskia Schuster (pictured), the broadcaster plans to increase the number of female writers in comedy teams on ITV productions, building on its Social Partnership agreement.

Schuster was speaking at the launch of Comedy 50:50 at ITV’s Waterhouse Square Offices in London’s Holborn last week (Thursday 18 October 2018).

The launch event gave writers, agents and producers the opportunity to network, including focused introductory writer-producer meetings, with each producer hosting at least three 10-minute introductory meetings with female writers.

Attendees were also invited to get involved with the other aims of Comedy 50:50, including:

• creating an independent database of female comedy writers, which can be accessed free of charge by producers (this will not be related solely to ITV productions, but for use on any show for any broadcaster)

• setting up mentorships whereby established writers will 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 benefited 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.

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.”

Photo: ITV