Supporting International Women’s Day 2019 across ITV

ITV celebrates inspirational women on International Women’s Day

Photo credit: Rankin

ITV celebrated International Women’s Day in a host of ways on Friday 8th March both across the ITV channels, programmes and in the business.

Firstly, our continuity announcers on all ITV channels on Friday 8th March were female, voicing links going in and out of programming and talking about International Women’s Day. From 6am Friday 8th to 6am Saturday 9th March, all ITV channels featured just female voices, including live links on ITV main channel from the afternoon to the evening.

At 7pm on Friday 8th on ITV, we broadcasted our all-female episode of Emmerdale. For the first time ever, the entire cast, including the background characters, were female in this special episode that has also been written, directed, recorded and produced by a female-led crew.

Producer on the soap, Kate Brooks, said

Our International Women’s Day episode is not only a celebration of women in the broadest sense of the word, but also a showcase for the female talent we have in the television industry. We wanted the episode to be character driven and story led, exploring all aspects of what it’s like to be a women in 2019.”

ITV also hosted its second Comedy 50:50 event, an initiative looking to implement measures to address the gender imbalance in comedy, starting with writers. Producers, writers and agents heard from Saskia Schuster, ITV’s Controller of Comedy, about how ITV’s Social Partnership Commissioning Commitments have now been updated to help address the imbalance. Within a commission, there is now additional terms stating that:

– Writing teams must aim towards 50:50 gender representation. The production will require commissioner sign-off on the make-up of the writing teams.

– In returning scripted commissions, the production must demonstrate best endeavours to include female writers in the writing room.

As part of this initiative a database of female writers went live last week, to which 400 writers have so far requested to be entered in to.

Saskia said of Comedy 50:50:

This whole initiative comes from a place of inclusivity – I strongly believe it can only be for the better, that the makeup of a show’s writing reflects diverse voices, that it reflects the makeup of our country.”

Finally, ITV hosted the first public exhibition of Portrait Positive in our London and Manchester offices. The Portrait Positive campaign challenges perceptions of beauty through a series of striking images of 16 different women with visible differences, taken by world-renowned photographer Rankin.

In support of charity Changing Faces, the UK’s leading charity for everyone who has a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different, ITV colleagues and thousands of members of the public came to view the striking images.

The exhibition ran all day at ITV in Waterhouse Square, London from the 7th-8th March for the general public and ITV employees to enjoy, followed by an exhibition at MediaCityUK in Salford on the 13th-14th March.

Rankin said:

Living with a visible difference you are literally judged by your appearance and compared to what I think is a fake idea of what it is to be beautiful or even ‘normal’. The only way to shift this perception is to talk about it and face it head on. Our amazing subjects are dealing with these issues with grace, dignity and strength. It was an absolute honour to work with them and try to create a discussion around what it is to be beautiful. To me they are all unique.”

Paul Moore, Corporate Affairs and Communications Director, ITV said:

Diversity and inclusion, both on and offscreen, is a priority for ITV.  Everything we do is built on our creativity and that comes from the diversity of our people and that’s why we are working to build a culture where everyone is included. We aim to reflect the culture and diversity of modern Britain and help shape culture for good.  We are proud to support Portrait Positive as they challenge perceptions of beauty and we are delighted to be hosting this exhibition in both our London and Manchester offices.”