• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

Study: British Film, TV Production Industry Still Dominated by Middle Class

Samantha Morton
Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

Women, minorities and working-class people are discriminated against as others “hoard” opportunities, researchers say after an actress recently cited Samantha Morton as a rare example of an on-screen talent with a working-class background.

LONDON - The British film and TV production industry continues to be dominated by members of the middle class who “hoard” career opportunities and benefit from family connections, according to a survey of entertainment professionals, The Independent reported on Wednesday.

The study, presented at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference on Tuesday, found that women, minorities and people with working-class backgrounds were “discriminated against because they were not trusted insiders.”

Members of the working class who work in the production business are discriminated against because they lack the “right accents, hairstyles, clothes or backgrounds,” the paper summarized another finding.

The researchers from Durham University and the University of St. Andrews surveyed 77  industry people, with 64 of them being from the middle classes.

“Most jobs were gained through friends and friends of friends,” the researchers explained, according to the Independent. “Openings were rarely advertised and producers tended to rely on the grapevine.”

Actress Maxine Peake recently spoke out about the lack of working-class female acting roles in the U.K., the paper also highlighted. "We're still obsessed with accent and class in this country," she said. "If you look at actors, loads are working class. But look at women and there's only Samantha Morton, really. All the others - Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Emily Blunt, Rebecca Hall - they're all brilliant, but there's no female working class."

Last year, British producer and Midsomer Murders co-creator Brian True-May was suspended after saying the hit show "wouldn't work" if it had a more diverse cast.

Hollywood also continues to see inequalities, according to various studies. Analyzing the top 100 films of 2009, for example, USC's Annenberg School last year found that only 32.8 percent of speaking characters were female and a small minority of the films had female directors.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai