Statement on Gogglebox and bullying in the TV industry

3 February 2021

There have been numerous reports in recent days concerning bullying behind the scenes in the TV industry. Specifically, allegations have been made in the press about Studio Lambert and Gogglebox.

Bectu can confirm that it has received several complaints about bullying behaviour at Gogglebox and we have sought meetings with Studio Lambert and Channel Four to discuss this matter.

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs said:

“Bullying at work is never acceptable and it is important to stress that it is not isolated to just one production or indeed any one individual.

“Something has to change and there is a way forward. In recent years, Bectu has worked with the BFI, BAFTA and other industry partners to produce guidelines to tackle bullying and harassment across the screen industries.

“We are now calling on broadcasters, independent production companies and colleagues on the Coalition for Change to work collectively together to make sure that this guidance is widely adopted and policies are put in place to tackle the scourge of bullying across the sector.”

#UnseenOnScreen campaign

Bectu’s Unscripted branch has been leading the campaign to tackle bullying in the TV industry, and last November launched the #UnseenOnScreen campaign. We shared (anonymised) member testimonies of bullying, harassment, and even sexual assault at work. You can read these here and we will be sharing more of these accounts in the coming days.

The branch also commissioned a survey with Bournemouth University of nearly 1,200 freelancers working in the Unscripted TV sector, which found that 93% of respondents have experienced or witnessed bullying and/or harassment in the workplace. Of those who reported incidents, only 11% considered that the matter was satisfactorily resolved.

The same survey found that 70% of respondents with management responsibilities say they have not received adequate training in the practical and legal aspects of managing people, which perhaps goes someone to explaining the prevalence of bullying in the industry.

Meriel Beale, Bectu Unscripted branch Bullying and Harassment Officer said:

“We launched the #UnseenOnScreen campaign to raise awareness of the issue, give victims a voice, and demand change.

“The purpose of the campaign is not to single out individuals, but rather to focus on how industry stakeholders can work collectively to improve working conditions.”

“If the whole industry pulls together we can minimise incidents, ensure that victims get a fair hearing and deal with cases of bullying seriously.”

A Fair Deal for Freelancers

Bectu also believes that the issue is made demonstrably worse by the status of the majority freelance workforce in the industry. Freelancers tend not to enjoy the contractual protections or workplace policies and procedures that are typically found in a traditional employer-employee relationship leaving them more vulnerable.

The same survey of TV freelancers found that 80% of respondents would like to see an agreement in place that sets out minimum standards on overtime rates, hours, pay, health and safety conditions and welfare for freelancers working in unscripted TV.

Bectu has signed up to the Coalition for Change which is a forum for discussion with Pact, Broadcasters and other stakeholders about creating a fair deal for freelancers across the TV industry.