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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Inspiring Diversity, Banishing Boxes'

Holly and I spent last Friday at Channel 4 last Friday for PACT’s Equality Act – Inspiring Diversity, Banishing Boxes’ event.  4 panels, each looking at a different area of diversity, produced by BBC, Channel 4, Sky and ITV.  

It’s easy to think about diversity in TV in fairly narrow terms, so what I thought was great about this event, was that the debate included issues around class, gender and age as well as addressing issues around representation of disability and ethnicity, both on and off screen.

The event pulled together an excellent, and of course very diverse, range of speakers and chairs, including Cbeebies star Cerrie Burnell, Maroon productions Paul Blake, broadcaster John Stapleton, Wall to Wall’s Alex Graham Baby Cow’s Henry Normal and Sky’s Lucy Lumsden.    

But I have to hold my hands up and admit my personal highlight was Baroness Floella Benjamin asking all us Playschool babies in the audience to identify themselves and their favourite window (yes, my hand shot up, and it was the round window if you’re interested.)
It may be poor quality but a very cool pic none the less!

Apart from Floella, I was really impressed by was the no-nonsense advice from certain panellists, particularly presenter Nikki Fox on making adjustments for disabled production staff – along the lines of don’t make assumptions on what people will and won’t need,  just ask them, they WON’T be offended! - and the totally accessible legal advice from lawyers at Lewis Silkin. Also it was great to catch up with Endemol, Skillset and all the other supporters of our own campaign to being more diversity off screen through the MGEITF talentschemes.  

Talking of which… on February 13th we’ll be opening for applications to TheNetwork, which we think is the best and most accessible introduction to TV there is. We are really keen to spread the word about the scheme and we’re always available to come and give targeted talks about the scheme to underrepresented groups so do get in touch if you have any ideas on that or if you wish to receive our postcards to distribute yourselves. 

Caroline Meaby
MGEITF Talent Schemes Director

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