Hit UK series profits to fund TV writers from ‘below stairs’

Meanwhile, in the UK the TV elite looks to be putting its desire for more diversity in creators and audiences where its delightfully metaphorical mouth is:

TV Writers Development Programme Capture

by Vanessa Thorpe

Stuart Murphy, the influential head of entertainment at Sky TV who resigned on Friday, has joined some of Britain’s leading television screenwriters, includingPaul Abbott and Brian Elsley, creators of the hit dramas Shameless and Skins, in calling for a wider social range in British dramas. Telling stories about people from every class is not just a moral duty, Murphy argues, it also makes better television.

Murphy, Abbott and Elsley are supporting a scheme, launched this weekend, which uses funds gleaned from top ratings successes such as Downton Abbey andCall the Midwife to find and then sponsor writers from less privileged backgrounds.

“Diversity is probably the biggest single issue facing the media today,” said Murphy, who launched BBC3 in 2003.

The TV Writers Development Programme, run by Creative Skillset, will be open to independent production companies and broadcasters to develop emerging writers and script editors.

Elsley, 54, is a campaigning force behind the programme and argues that while Britain is enjoying a golden era of television, with drama more popular than ever, unless producers and broadcasters renew efforts to find a wide selection of voices, viewing will soon be much less varied.

“There are tremendous commercial forces at work because broadcasting has been consolidated and bought up, and so a certain conservatism reigns,” he said. “No one is discussing it as there is still a small group of talented, older writers who are at the top of their game now, including Sally Wainwright (Last Tango in Halifax,Happy Valley), Peter Bowker (Marvellous), Paul Abbott and Russell T Davies (Doctor Who). They are on fire. But we need a fresh group coming though.”…

Read it all at The Guardian