Earlier this year, ITV proudly shares the outcomes of its Diversity Commissioning Fund, which has initiated several new projects to assist diverse writers in the field of TV production.
ITV’s Diversity Commissioning Fund, allocating £80 million from the content commissioning budget for the next three years, aims to promote racial and disability equity, influencing whose stories are told and who receives opportunities in TV production. As a component of this initiative, a £500,000 Development Fund has been established to nurture ideas eligible for the Diversity Commissioning Fund.
“We established our Diversity Commissioning Fund to change how and who tells our stories. By launching three different opportunities for writers, we have been excited by the fresh, new and underrepresented voices we have created opportunities for in Drama, Comedy and Entertainment. We want to continue to support this talent and look forward to seeing how these voices continue to develop and thrive at ITV and beyond.”
To date, three distinct initiatives for diverse writers have been introduced under the fund:
- Scripted Comedy Writers Initiative:
In June, ITV launched an open call within its diverse networks to identify nine comedy writers for a writers workshop. These writers engaged with the producers and writing team for the new comedy “Piglets,” commissioned by Nana Hughes, ITV’s Head of Scripted Comedy. One writer was selected to join the series, while four others formed a writers’ annex group, contributing material with the chance for program credits if used in the final edit.
Nana Hughes, Head of Scripted Comedy ITV said; “The calibre of applicants to the diverse comedy writers initiative was truly impressive. It’s a great way to discover and engage with new diverse writing talent, giving them the unique experience of working in a comedy writer’s room. I hopefully look forward to being able to offer others a similar opportunity for future ITV comedy commissions.”
Omar Khan, Writer, Piglets said; “Working on Piglets is an absolutely awe inspiring experience. IIn their midst I listen a lot, learn a lot and laugh a lot with the aim of leaving a small impression of my own on the show. Can’t wait to do it all again when the show gets renewed for Season 2!”
- Entertainment Comedy Writers Initiative:
In collaboration with ITV Entertainment Commissioner Joe Mace, an application process in September sought up to six diverse comedy writers for a workshop. Chosen writers collaborated on sketches and pranks for an upcoming untitled Saturday evening hidden camera show pilot produced by Brown Bred Productions. The goal is to include as much workshop-generated material in the filmed pilot as possible.
Jo Mace, Entertainment Commissioner ITV said; “We ran an entire day’s workshop for this new entertainment comedy writers initiative, alongside Brown Bred Productions and the atmosphere in the room for the whole day was nothing short of electric. I’m genuinely impressed with the quality of the work produced in such a short space of time and I can’t wait to see how it evolves.”
Joe Varley, Brown Bred Productions said; “We were blown away by the calibre of talent at the workshop day and are thrilled to be working with ITV on this project.”
- Disabled Writers Programme:
As part of ITV’s ongoing commitment to inclusivity, the Disabled Writers in Development programme, in partnership with Tall Story Pictures, provides script commissions to four Deaf, Disabled, and Neurodivergent writers. These writers are working on ITV-focused ideas and pitching them to ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill. The initiative, launched in January, aims to broaden the pool of Disabled writers working on projects across ITV and the broader industry.
Catherine Oldfield, Creative Director at Tall Story Pictures said; “We’re delighted to be developing projects with the four hugely talented writers from the Disabled Writer in Development programme. Supporting talent from under-represented groups is really important to the team at Tall Story Pictures, and we’re proud to continue building on our work with our involvement here, alongside the team at DEI.”
Additionally last year, 5 Acts Productions, the ITV Studios scripted label led by David P. Davis, launched Writers in Residence designed for unrepresented writers, and it has taken on two writers for a year to develop scripts. The residency received support and funding from ITV’s Diversity Commissioning Development Fund.