Actors urge BBC to produce and cast more dramas regionally

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Lobbying body the Performers’ Alliance Parliamentary Group – which includes Equity and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain – is being urged to pressure the BBC to produce and cast more dramas in the nations and regions.

Equity members at this year’s annual conference passed a motion urging the union, through the lobbying group, to call on the Corporation and regulatory body Ofcom to “set a new definition” of what constitutes drama production outside of London.

It stated that the definition should ensure “there is appropriate investment” in all the nations of the UK and that “local talent is nurtured through work opportunities”.

The motion was the latest to be put before Equity members aimed at increasing both production and the use of talent in the nations and regions. Equity previously passed motions in 2008 and 2009 addressing the lack of programming made outside of London and last year launched the Campaign for Broadcasting in the Nations.

But the union’s Northern Ireland committee, which put the most recent motion before Equity members, has claimed more needs to be done.

Al Logan, from the committee, said Northern Ireland in particular had suffered from the BBC making shows in the nation that made very little use of local talent.

“The BBC promises it will do a drama in Northern Ireland, but it brings in a couple of ex-pats who live in London and does the production here, with our talent ending up in supporting roles. The BBC then badge it as having been made in Northern Ireland. That has been going on for years not, going back to Ballykissangel and beyond. The Performers’ Alliance is the key to helping us here. We are appealing to the group to do something for us. We are losing members because of this and the BBC is not helping at all,” he said.

At the conference, a motion from the Midlands Area Annual General Meeting also called on Equity to lobby “for a fair share of BBC licence fee revenue to be spent in the nations and English regions”.

The motion claimed that the midlands generates 25% of the licence fee, but only sees 2% of it spent in the region.

“Equity should highlight this distortion to ensure that a more equitable distribution of resources is dispersed from London to the nations and regions, including the Midlands,” it said.

Both motions were passed.