UK union Bectu says the country’s film and TV industry is experiencing a “shocking work drought” and that freelance workers are bearing the brunt.

The findings came as the union released a poll of more than 4,000 UK film and TV workers.

2. Philippa Childs, Bectu

Philippa Childs, Bectu

Among the key findings of the poll are that 68% of respondents are currently not working, and 30% say they have had no work at all in the past three months.

58% of respondents say they have not seen any recovery in their employment since the end of the writers and actors’ strikes in the US which led to a huge slowdown in production in the UK. The industry has also been hit by squeezed spend from platforms and broadcasters.

Bectu said many workers, especially women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds, as well as those working in unscripted TV, plan to leave film and TV work altogether.

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The union called on the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Lucy Frazer to convene an urgent industry summit to discuss the crisis.

Bectu cited several responses to its poll, including an unscripted TV producer who said: “I have never known a more dire situation in television in 20 years. Every freelancer I know is unemployed. Every freelancer I know is extremely worried about money, growing debt and the future of production. Freelancers are already living precarious lives. Now it is untenable.”

Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu, said: “There has been a lot of discussion about the state of the UK’s film and TV industry over the past year – about strikes in the US, a downturn in ad revenue, and reduced commissioning. In our survey we heard directly from those at the coalface of these significant challenges – the freelance workforce – and the picture is very bleak.”

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