UKTV seeks diverse voices; launches new initiatives, commissions anthology series

Richard Watsham

British broadcaster UKTV is launching two new writer’s initiatives aimed at improving ethnic and gender diversity across its comedy and drama productions.

It also plans to commission a 4 x 30-minute anthology series for its channel Dave that will be written, made and performed by diverse talent.

UKTV has teamed up with the Triforce Creative Network/Dandi.org.uk, which exists to remove barriers to progress that diverse and emerging talent can face in the industry.

The broadcaster will utilise TriForce’s WriterSlam platform, which works to discover writers from all backgrounds, and is looking for writing samples across a broad range of ideas, with the aim of allowing writers to tell the stories they want, ranging from the comedic to the dramatic.

UKTV and Triforce/Dandi.org.uk will filter these submissions down to six finalists, who will all receive a paid commission to write a half hour script based on their own personal experiences of living in the UK today. Four of these scripts will then be selected to be produced and broadcast on Dave, with the potential to secure a full series commission.

UKTV will also work with Dandi.org.uk to ensure that there is diversity and inclusion at all levels and all stages of the collaboration, both on and off screen.

Seeking female voices

In addition to the WriterSlam initiative and anthology series on Dave, UKTV is also working with Comedy 50:50, to “turbocharge” female voices in its scripted comedy pipeline.

UKTV is funding 10 treatments for new half-hour comedies for either Dave or Gold and is looking to commission at least three full scripts from those. The aim is to extend one or more projects into a series commission.

Furthermore, UKTV has announced the extension of its All Voices initiative which works with Film London’s Equal Access Network and offers paid positions on UKTV Original productions. The aim is for people to work on multiple productions across a 12-month period so that they carry a meaningful volume of experience forward on which to build sustained and developing careers.

The broadcaster has also committed to ringfencing a minimum of a quarter of its development budget for diverse production companies and on-screen talent. In addition, UKTV is making a commitment to 20% of production talent coming from underrepresented groups across its originations. The broadcaster will work collaboratively with suppliers to help them reach this target for all productions from 1 July 2021.

“We aspire to be the best in the industry at discovering, developing, and promoting underrepresented talent, and it’s vitally important that we empower talented individuals to tell their unique stories on screen,” said Richard Watsham, UKTV’s director of commissioning. “We are not seeing enough of those voices in comedy despite enormous amounts of talent out there. These two initiatives will offer tangible opportunities, funding, and a support structure that I hope will help us take a big step in the right direction.”

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