By Lisa Holdsworth, Yorkshire & North East rep
Four of the UK’s best women TV writers came together in Leeds on 22 November 2015 to talk frankly about their careers, sexism in the industry and being valued as a writer, at a special WGGB panel event, Television Writing: Women’s Work? (see slideshow, above).
Between them, Kay Mellor OBE, Gwyneth Hughes, Alison Hume and Alice Nutter have won a plethora of awards and original commissions, and all four are WGGB members.
They all had clear memories of being marginalised and silenced as women in the early years of their careers. Of course, things have got better as they’ve become more experienced and confident. And they urged other writers to find their voices and speak up for themselves. Indeed, that was the theme that emerged from the evening; writers need to speak up for themselves and their colleagues.
Kay Mellor spoke with passion about mentoring other writers and finding female directors for her new series of In The Club. Gwyneth Hughes urged TV writers to ask to see their work being edited. Alison Hume discussed how working away from London has been tough but better for her and her family. Alice Nutter explained how she is clear and honest with producers and script editors about her family responsibilities and how she refuses to be summoned to script meetings with little or no notice.
All of the speakers backed our Free is NOT an Option campaign, underlining how important it is for writers to speak to production companies and producers about remuneration.
And Kay Mellor gave the audience a final and sound piece of advice: “Join the Writers’ Guild”. She explained that there are still times when she rings the WGGB office to ask for advice, and that the backing of the Writers’ Guild gives her peace of mind.
All four women said that WGGB is an essential organisation for writers, both new and experienced. And from the feedback and enthusiasm of the audience, they seemed to agree.