Equity to mount legal claim on behalf of unpaid kids’ TV actors
A TV production company exposed for leaving its writers £250,000 out of pocket is facing a legal challenge from union Equity, after it emerged performers are also owed thousands by the organisation.
As revealed by The Stage last week, producer Phil Ox, from production company I Love Television, owes the five writers of international drama series Which is Witch? a total of £250,000 for their work.
The drama series is still being broadcast on French and Belgian television, despite the huge amounts outstanding to its creative team and cast.
Now it has emerged that Equity is supporting eight actors in reclaiming money owed to them for their work, with the total amount due to them believed to be thousands of pounds.
Martin Kenny, Equity’s legal officer, told The Stage that the union was currently in the early stages of a formal case of litigation against the company.
He added: “The production is not for the UK market, but there are a lot of Equity members in it, and as such we are quite happy to help them in a potential breach of contract case”.
One actor owed money is Tim Lawrence, aged 22, who starred in the series as Jack Hooper. He said he was owed thousands and had realised there were financial problems on the series when payments started to arrive late.
“I am not expecting the money anytime soon,” he said, adding: “It’s such a shame, as I thought Which is Witch? could be my big break, which all young actors want. It’s made me be more aware, that just because a company offers big bucks it doesn’t mean you’re safe. It’s all the more reason for things to go this way.”
Meanwhile, director Rob MacGillivray has revealed he too is owed several thousands of pounds for his work on the series. He directed 12 episodes of the 26-part drama, and said Ox had told him there were financial problems but that he had promised to keep the cast and crew informed about the situation. MacGillivray said this had not happened and that he was “annoyed” the show had made it to air without Ox consulting the people owed money.
He added that he was also frustrated to learn that other directors from the series, based in France, had been paid.
“They were paid just prior to it going on air in Belgium and France, so very deliberately, it would seem, the French directors were paid because the French broadcaster, Canal J, would be unhappy broadcasting something the French crew had not been paid for. Yet they are entirely happy to broadcast something for which the UK director has not been paid. That is what has annoyed me most,” he claimed.
Last week, a spokeswoman for I Love Television confirmed the company had run into “financial difficulties” on the drama, and said it was setting up a company voluntary arrangement and that “the supervisor of the CVA will make a formal proposal to creditors”.