Supporting TV Freelancers: by Alex Pumfrey

I applaud the hard work and dedication that has gone into creating the Coalition For Change announced today by Adeel Amini’s The TV Mindset at The Edinburgh International Television Festival, a working group to explore a wide range of issues facing freelancers in TV. It’s right that our workforce has a place at the forefront of the festival, after what has been a devastating year for freelancers in our industry.

I wholeheartedly agree with the statement:

“We believe every freelancer working in our industry deserves decent working and that we should all advocate a culture that promotes respect, professionalism and investment in people.

The best creative content will come from an industry that puts people first, celebrates difference and enables us all to thrive.”

Ours is a people industry like no other, reliant on the skills, passion and creativity of thousands of people in an enormous variety of roles.

Earlier this year we wrote about the collective trauma likely to be experienced by workers in film and TV, who have faced tougher challenges than ever before. We think that current figures are likely to hugely underestimate the number of freelancers working in our industry, which we estimate to be up to 100,000 people working primarily on a freelance basis, the majority of whom were locked out of Government support during the pandemic. It’s clear than the UK film and television industry is highly reliant on freelance labour, and that our talented and diverse workforce has had to absorb huge risk. Unfortunately, it has taken a pandemic for all of us to fully take stock of this model of work and appreciate the vulnerable position in which it has put tens of thousands of people.

This came on top of the very serious findings of poor mental health within our industry, which we published in February. Our research showed that nearly 9 in 10 people working in UK film and TV have experienced a mental health problem. When we looked at the causes, we identified what we call the ‘three C’s – working culture, working conditions and capability. We’ll soon move forward with this important 2-year programme of work, which will take action on bullying, production standards, behaviour change, relevant training and more support for freelancers.

We’re looking forward to working with the wider industry and individuals to develop our collective understanding of freelancing in our industry and to agree on appropriate measures to protect the mental health of our valuable workforce through the Whole Picture Programme, so that we can move forward into a healthier, happier industry.

Read about our mental health action plan, the Whole Picture Programme.


Alex Pumfrey, CEO