U.K. TV network, ITV, will no longer support all-male comedy writing teams. According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter earlier this week, the ban was initially announced on Monday by ITV’s controller of comedy, Saski Schuster. Schuster hopes that the decision will help funnel more female comedy writers into the writers rooms of sitcoms and other comedy programs.
In an interview at Channel 4’s DIVERSE Festival in Bradford, England, the TV executive vocalized her commitment to diversity across writers rooms. “I won’t commission anything with an all-male writing team,” she said.
ITV is known for broadcasting the popular reality show Love Island, and the TV network is likewise responsible for broadcasting comedies like Bad Move, Timewasters, Celebrity Juice, and Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule. In line with ITV’s ban on all-male writing teams, Schuster recently launched an initiative entitled “Comedy 50:50,” which aims to help female comedy writers connect with otherwise out-of-reach indie producers. “An awful lot of my comedy entertainment shows are made up of all male writing teams. In scripted commissions there has been a significant lack of shows written by women or with women on the writing teams,” Schuster explained on the Comedy 50:50 website.
In a recent appearance at the Banff World Media Festival, the TV executive said that she has the support of ITV to encourage and push future female comedy writers to work their way up in the entertainment industry.
“The biggest change is I’ve changed my terms of commission. There is an element for change of having to force it. And my network is coming on board with this,” Schuster continued to speak on her conversations with British production companies that have the potential to create more comedy shows for ITV.
Initiatives like 50:50, as well as ITV’s move to ban all-male writer rooms, is long overdue. In a troubling 2017-2018 report by the Hollywood Reporter, 74% of TV programs and films employed no women writers. On TV shows and films with male creators, women comprise only 16% of writers, a high contrast to programs or films with female creators, where women instead make up 45%. In total, Women comprise 51% of the human population. This only reflects in 36% of TV writers.