Landmark Report Published on Disability Representation in U.K. TV

A recent landmark report has been published describing the representation of disabled people in the U.K. TV industry on and off screen

The report, from Creative Diversity Network (CDN), reveals it will take almost twenty years for disability to be fully represented in the industry.

While 17% of the U.K. workforce is disabled, and 18% of the U.K.’s population, in the TV industry, there are only 4.5% of disabled people working behind the camera and 6.8% in front.

13,000 additional disabled people need to start a career within the industry to reflect the whole population.

“Diamond at 5: A deep dive into the representation of disabled people in U.K. television” reflects five years of data, from August 2016-July 2021, making it the most all-inclusive examination of the condition of the industry to date. It was commissioned as part of CDN’s Doubling Disability initiative.

While the report shows some progress in representation, behind the screen these are restricted to non-senior roles, most of which are in children’s and factual.

In other genres, representation has stayed the same or, in some cases, decreased.

On-screen, there has been improvement in scripted, particularly drama, comedy and children’s, but this has been modified by non-scripted, where representation of people with disabilities have remained low or decreased (excluding in presenter/reporter roles).

In scripted, much of the improvement is also due to existing talent being given more chances rather than finding new disabled talent.

Looking across U.K. networks, BBC has the highest amount of contributions by disabled people followed by Channel 4.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

“Our analysis clearly reveals just how much disability, and disabled-led organisations and individuals have been excluded from the diversity conversation in the U.K. television industry, and how this has contributed to a lack of understanding of how disabled people’s lives are interlinked to their representation in television,” said Deborah Williams, CEO of CDN.

“But all is not lost. I fully believe that with the data and evidence we’ve gathered, which properly highlight the gaps, trends, and where progress is or isn’t taking place, we can work collaboratively as producers, broadcasters, streamers, training providers, government and insurers to bring about the lasting and meaningful transformation in our industry to which we are all committed.”

CDN has given some advice, including that the industry should create an inclusive commissioning process and working environment, more disabled individuals are needed in senior roles and access provision and reasonable adjustments (which are already a legal requirement) should be standard across the industry.

This piece is based on a report by Creative Diversity Network (CDN) & an article by Variety.