Thursday, January 14, 2010

BAFTA sidelines TV writers... continued

Top TV writer (and Guild member), Tony Jordan, has added his voice to the criticism of BAFTA for not including even a single award for writers in its main TV awards show.

Quoted in an article by Matthew Hemley in the Stage, Jordan says:
“I do think that the writer’s role is somewhat played down by the BAFTA awards. After all, everything begins with the word. As they are so frequently gushing about an actor finding his or her character and performing all the complexity and depth of that character, surely they should be equally gushing about the person who created that character in the first place.”
Hemley's article also quotes Danny Stack who, along with fellow Guild member Martin Day, began campaigning last year to get BAFTA to include writers in the main awards.

The Guild has also been trying to get BAFTA to upgrade the writing award. As Guild Deputy General Secretary, Anne Hogben, says in Hemley's article:
“Most writers feel very disgruntled indeed about how they are airbrushed out of the picture. BAFTA is obsessed with glamorous starlets.
John Willis, chairman of BAFTA’s television committee, tells Hemley that there is limited space for awards.
Willis added that writers are often highlighted in the Television Awards as one of four people who have made the most creative contribution to a show nominated in drama categories.
How kind.

Update (16.01.10): The story has also been picked up by the Independent.


  1. "Willis added that writers are often highlighted in the Television Awards as one of the four people who have made the most creative contribution to a show nominated in drama categories."

    Pity we're not there to see it.

  2. Anonymous7:46 am

    I have to say, as an outsider (Aust living in the UK) I would have thought BAFTA would have been the last organisation to do this, I still can't quite believe it. Considering just how prolific the UK is in producing original scripted TV content (IMHO), it seems idiotic that writers wouldn't be held in the same esteem as actors, directors etc.

  3. A writer5:30 pm

    Writers are the creators and as such THE most important part of television drama. Without them there would be nothing. John Willis sounds like a complete idiot and not worthy of his job.

  4. Writer, I have the greatest respect for John Willis and his work professionally and at Bafta. The Guild is protesting against principles but never individuals. But I understand your frustration.

    Under Bafta's current system it means that the Singing Detective could be honoured at its most prestigious awards but not Dennis Potter; Only Fools and Horse but not John Sullivan; Being Human but not Toby Whithouse. What's wrong with this picture?

  5. Anonymous6:15 pm

    A writer writes:
    I support the aim of greater recognition for dramatists at BAFTA. However, I do find it ironic that neither BAFTA nor the Writers' Guild itself recognise the bulk of writers in TV. Every radio and TV programme has a script: only a few are dramas. There are no awards, no agreements and no agreed rates for factual writers. The Guild's own publications on dealing with writers in TV only ever envisage drama.
    As a documentary-maker of renown himself, John Willis must know BAFTA's "4 people" get-out is an unachievable ideal. In reality, few channel commissioners, executive producers, series producers, or directors are likely to forgo a place on the podium for an individual in a role which remains underrated and increasingly underpaid.

  6. Robert Taylor, Chair of the Writers' Guild of GB10:12 am

    The Guild is well aware of the poor terms in many non-fiction and documentary writers’ contracts. We are committed to expanding the Guild’s work into areas where writers’ rights are not respected – witness our work with games writers. However, the Guild is a member driven organisation. We need writers working in under represented sectors to join us, both to help lead the fight and give us a mandate. I urge you and other factual and documentary writers to join the Guild. If you would like to discuss any problems or concerns then contact the Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett in complete confidence.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.