Locked Down and Locked Out – the experience of working mothers in TV production

At the best of times, balancing motherhood and a career in TV is incredibly tough. Every year many find that it is simply too hard to juggle the competing demands leading large numbers to drop out every year.

This past two years has, of course, been far from the best of times and a new report lays out how Covid has affected TV working mothers in bleak detail: Locked Down and Locked Out: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mothers working in the UK television industry.

The report, published by The Institute for Screen Industries Research at The University of Nottingham, in partnership with Telly Mums Network, SMTJ and Bectu, finds that the pandemic has had multiple impacts on working mothers’ lives:

49 percent of survey respondents said they had been unable to accept work due to childcare related issues.

Over 55 percent had been part of a production that was either cancelled or postponed.

And 54 percent said they had not been able to find enough work.

The report provides some key recommendations for immediate and longer-term actions that they say must take place to mitigate the effects of disrupted working lives of mothers in TV in the future.

Will they happen? It’s over to broadcasters and production companies; now is the time to take up the challenge.

You can read the full report here.

Working in Television – the reality.

This week, BECTU released “State of Play”, its report on working conditions in the TV industry. It does not make for pretty reading.

No surprise to those who work in the industry of course, this can be a very tough arena in which to ply ones trade. The report draws on the experience of numerous freelancers in the industry and is well worth a read if you are currently working in unscripted TV production, or are considering a career in it. TV can be, of course, a fun industry in which to make a living but it can also be the Wild West when it comes to your rights, the demands placed on you and the structure of your working life .

So give it a read. But also think about how you can be part of making that life better for yourself and others. There are some great recommendations for action contained within it but those will only be secured if there is pressure placed on broadcasters and those in authority to achieve them. A good first step for everyone is to join BECTU. Strength in numbers and all that, and it has great benefits even if things are going well at work. Also join or follow groups like Greg’s Viva La PD or Adeel’s TV Mindset and of course all those Facebook groups where freelancers gather (and often campaign) like Telly Mums or Share My Telly Job.

And do call out bad practice if you see it at work. There should be fair recruitment, no-one should be required to work overlong hours or for pitiful pay, you should not be bullied or harassed or have unreasonable expectations placed upon, you do have the right to have a life alongside your working one. And feel free to email us if you feel you can’t call it out yourself (completely confidential – info@tvwatercooler.org), there are many ways to achieve change which don’t involve individuals putting their heads above the parapet.

Will anything ever change? It’s up to us as much as “them”.

Share my Telly Job

This is a great thing – an online community built for freelancers in the Television industry who are hoping to find more flexible working contracts. It’s called “Share my Telly Job” and it seeks to enable people to be put together with like minded folk who want to – well – share their telly job.

There’s an event coming up on April 28th, where Share My Telly Job & Telly Mums Network are joining forces with ITV Loves Talent to offer a night of ‘speed dating’ for like-minded fellow freelancers who are looking to job-share.

So if you’re looking for a better work-life balance, pop along and see if you can match up with someone of the same mind because, as they say on the site, “we truly believe that the more broad and diverse the people involved in making TV are, the more enriched the stories we tell on screen will be”.

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And there’s also a Facebook group