Nearly half of UK freelancers working in unscripted TV are not currently employed and many are struggling financially as a result, according to a poll by broadcasting union Bectu.

Nearly 2000 freelancers shared their personal experiences of the slowdown in unscripted work with Bectu.


Bectu found nearly half of UK freelancers working in unscripted TV aren’t currently employed

The findings come after the union last week noted a uncharacteristic quiet period for freelancers in the unscripted genres.

45 per cent of those surveyed are not currently working, and 85 per cent said the last six months had been quieter than normal in terms of available work. 75 per cent reported struggling with their finances as a result.

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Almost all respondents reported that the lack of work or pressure on their finances was negatively impacting their mental health, at a time when the industry is focusing on how to improve the mental health of the workforce through the work of the Film and TV Charity.

Only half of surveyed freelancers said that they could see themselves still working in TV in five years’ time.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “We are speaking with industry stakeholders who tell us that our findings are consistent with what they’re hearing. The number of people questioning their future in unscripted TV is particularly concerning. The film and TV industry must make sure that there is good and consistent work throughout the year to ensure the stability of the sector and the financial and mental wellbeing of those who work in it.

Freelance series producer and co-chair of Bectu’s unscripted TV branch, James Taylor, said: “The broadcasters need to be honest with us freelancers. Are we reaching a point where TV production is no longer a full-time, year-round job? We need to acknowledge that continuing crises like this cost the industry more in the long run, as we lose more people with valuable experience that make the UK a global leader in TV production.”

Freelance production executive and co-chair of Bectu’s unscripted TV branch, Viki Carter, said: “The current dearth of productions in unscripted TV is particularly concerning for those of us in production management. There has been a well-publicised shortage of production freelancers for years now. Large gaps in employment like those that people are currently experiencing will likely lead to a further exodus of production freelancers. as our skillset is easily transferable to other industries with more secure employment prospects.”

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