Female TV Writers Demand To Know Where All The Female TV Writers Are

TV scriptwriters sign a letter to voice anger over lack of opportunity


Over 70 female writers have signed a letter voicing their anger over the lack of opportunity granted by drama commissioners on primetime television.

The open letter - signed by 76 scriptwriters and supported by many others who wanted to remain anonymous - claims that British drama is 'overwhelmingly written by men', and that 'less than 10 per cent of new drama greenlit by ITV for this year will be written by women'.


'The gap between being commissioned and being produced seems disproportionately large when it comes to women's work,' the letter published by Broadcast reads.

The letter argues that it is not simply a case of there not being enough female writers out there, or that drama written by women doesn't get ratings - using the BBC1's Call the Midwife as a prime example of a female-led hit.

'So, maybe it's about the ratings? Perhaps dramas written by women simply don't put bums on seats? If anyone truly believes that, we have three words for you: Call The Midwife,' the letter continues.

'This ratings behemoth has a female showrunner, the mighty Heidi Thomas, and a female writing team.'

Referencing an article on Cultbox, which announced nine new ITV dramas for 2018, says: 'Of the nine new dramas listed, only one had a female lead writer.

Less than 10 per cent of new drama greenlit by ITV for this year will be written by women


'In fairness, the article was by no means definitive, as since it was published, ITV has announced two further dramas for 2018. Both by male writers.

'That suggests that less than 10 per cent of new drama greenlit by ITV for this year will be written by women. Perhaps you can now understand our rage? Less than 10 per cent.'

The letter pointed out that the BBC's Silent Witness had employed only five female writers during its 20-year run, while Doctor Who had managed to go on for five series without a women writing a single episode.

It also asserted that while 'UK soap opera writing teams have plenty of women who write for the nation's favourite characters on a daily basis', they don't appear to be 'graduating onto next-level shows where they could develop their skills further and raise their profiles'.

Jodie Whittaker

The letter conceded: 'It is encouraging that many of the new ITV dramas have female characters front and centre.

'It is great to see that women's stories are now being told. It's just that we feel we might be better qualified to tell our own stories.'

The BBC has since responded to say: 'Women have written more than 40 per cent of the drama BBC One's head of drama Piers Wenger has ordered since taking up the role a year ago.'

It is great to see that women's stories are now being told

ITV's Polly Hill added: 'Recent drama on ITV - Bancroft, Victoria, Next of Kin, Girlfriends and Vera - have all had female writers, with strong female leads.

'The list referred to does not represent the full picture of ITV commissions. We have four new dramas written by women that have not been announced yet, as well as female writers working on forthcoming returning series.'

She added: 'As we look to offer audiences the greatest range of drama, we will always support and commission female writers and take representation on and off screen seriously.'

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