TV shows will have to meet diversity targets to win Baftas

TV shows will have to meet diversity targets on gender, race and sexuality among characters to be able to win Baftas, the awards academy declares

  • The BFI Diversity Standards will be extended to cover small-screen productions
  • They will be piloted in next year’s Bafta TV awards and fully introduced in 2021 
  • Bafta committees and jury members are also having ‘unconscious bias’ training 

TV shows will have to meet a series of diversity requirements to be eligible for Bafta awards under new rules. 

The BFI Diversity Standards, which cover race, gender and sexual orientation among other categories, are already part of the criteria for Bafta’s film awards and are now being extended to cover small-screen productions. 

The rules will be piloted in Bafta’s TV awards next year and will be fully introduced in 2021, the academy said.  

In addition, Bafta committees and jury members are receiving training in ‘unconscious bias’ in an effort to promote diversity. 

Fiona Shaw, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Jodie Comer hold up their Bafta awards in May this year. Productions will have to meet diversity requirements to be considered in future

To meet the BFI Diversity Standards, TV shows must meet at least two of four overall standards. 

The four topics covered are:

  • On-screen cast and storyline
  • Production crew
  • Access to the industry
  • Exhibition and distribution

In the first, on-screen category, there are another five categories of which at least three need to be met. 

To meet the first, at least one of the lead characters or presenters must be from an ‘under-represented group’. 

The second covers the wider cast, and there are various ways to meet the requirements. 

These include a 50-50 gender balance, 20 per cent of the cast coming from an ethnic minority or seven per cent being deaf or disabled. 

The third stipulates that the main storyline of the series should be about an under-represented group, while the fourth allows for other storylines to meet the same target. 

The fifth states that the production should be either set or filmed in an ‘under-represented region or community’. 

The full requirements are on the BFI website.  

Under the rules set out by the British Film Institute, TV productions must meet a series of diversity requirements to be eligible. 

There are many different ways to pass, but the criteria include having lead actors from ‘under-represented groups’ and a gender balance among the supporting cast. 

Having a ‘significant amount of contributors’ who live outside London and the South East of England will also help.   

Period dramas such as Downton Abbey may struggle to meet certain requirements, such as 20 per cent of the cast belonging to an ethnic minority. 

However, they could still pass in other ways, for instance by demonstrating a diverse crew.   

‘Working in close consultation with the BFI and the wider television industry, we are delighted to be piloting the introduction of the BFI Diversity Standards, with the plan to fully introduce diversity standards for 2021,’ said Bafta CEO Amanda Berry. 

‘Our aim is to bring the industry together to improve diversity and inclusion through sharing best practice, encouraging collaboration, driving change and, ultimately, to become more inclusive.’

Bafta said the new rules would cover all UK production categories for the 2020 awards. 

‘In consultation with the industry, BAFTA aims to introduce these fully for the 2021 Awards,’ the organisation said. 

‘Bafta’s committees and jury chairs are currently being offered independent unconscious bias training ahead of the 2020 awards season.

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at this year’s Bafta TV awards. The diversity rules will be fully introduced in 2021

‘Bafta is continuing to identify ways to lead change within the film, games and television industries, and will be making further announcements in the coming months.’

The organisation has also changed its eligibility rules following controversy over Killing Eve’s inclusion at this year’s TV awards.

The hit drama, which premiered in the U.S., was deemed eligible despite Bafta rules stating that a programme must have premiered in the UK.

Now Bafta has announced: ‘UK programmes will no longer be required to premiere in the UK.’

The change enables ‘the very best British creators and content to be recognised by Bafta regardless of where the show is first transmitted’, it said.

Earlier this year, the hit BBC drama won three awards at the TV ceremony, leading the wins.

Jodie Comer scooped best actress, Fiona Shaw supporting actress and the show won drama series.

Hannah Wyatt, chair of Bafta’s television committee, said: ‘Bafta is committed to rewarding British productions that can be enjoyed by British audiences.

‘We are always looking to reflect the ever-changing industry, ensuring our rules remain fit for purpose.

‘As we see British creative talent and productions increasingly capturing global audiences, we feel now in the right time to make this adjustment.’ 

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