Film and TV workers feared being blacklisted over abuse claims

In 2017, the 'metoo' movement went viral with its stance against abuse in the entertainment industry. But campaigners say little has changed since then

In 2017, the “MeToo” movement went viral with its stance against abuse in the entertainment industry

Film and TV workers who suffered alleged bullying and sexual harassment in the industry say they feared being blacklisted if they reported abuse.

More than 1,400 members of the entertainment workers’ union, Bectu, have revealed their experiences.

Some 73% said they lacked confidence any action would be taken over claims, while others feared losing their jobs.

Campaigners have called for an independent body to deal with claims of abuse in the creative industries.

‘You must report this’

Hannah*, a TV producer, told the BBC’s File on 4 programme how she was sexually assaulted by a senior male colleague at work.

“He started trying to pull my clothes off. And I pushed him away.” She said the man then told her he would send someone to her house and threatened her with rape if she told anyone.

“I spoke to a producer and they said, ‘you absolutely must report this’. But when I spoke to other women in the company they all advised me not to, and said I’ll be the one that will be fired.”

Beth*, an actor, told the programme she was sexually assaulted at an audition. She says there needs to be better reporting mechanisms within the industry.

“It’s great to have guidelines and to be signposted somewhere, but unless there’s action, I don’t think it’s enough.” She added: “If you’re reporting to someone within the industry, they may know the person.”

A voluntary questionnaire, sent to 14,000 Bectu members, asked workers about their experience in the TV and film industry. Of the 1,400 people who responded, just over 70% said they had experienced bullying, sexual harassment or abuse.

Two thirds of those did not report the abuse, with more than half saying feared being blacklisted or were scared of losing their jobs. The majority of those who responded were freelance workers.

Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, said some of her members felt “very vulnerable”. She said: “They worry about how reporting allegations of bullying and harassment will impact on their careers. The power imbalances are quite huge.”

She said called for a single reporting mechanism to monitor serial abusers, as well as safeguarding officers on every set.

‘Deeply concerning’

Campaign group Time’s Up UK has called for an independent body to bring in a standardised approach to historic and recent complaints of abuse and harassment, across the industry.

Paul Fleming, general secretary of actors’ union Equity, said he supports such a proposal. “A lot of people don’t know about their rights as they exist now.”

And Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones, a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, called for independent body to oversee the industry and report back to the government. “We need that regulation. It’s essential that it happens quickly so that we can save potential victims.”

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said the issue of bullying and harassment within the creative industries was “deeply concerning”. She said an “ongoing cross-industry plan of action will help improve support for those facing these issues”.

*Some of the names in this piece have been changed to protect their identities

File on 4 is on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 on Tuesday, May 25 and is then available on BBC Sounds.

Leave a Comment