The coronavirus outbreak has left much of the television workforce idle, with most TV production suspended since March. Freelancers, who account for 100,000 of the total TV and film workforce of 180,000, have been dealt the rawest of deals. They have been hit hardest by the lockdown – 93% are out of work, according to The Film and TV Charity.
The charity has launched the first ever industry-wide study, The Looking Glass, to get an insight into the wellbeing and mental health of those working in the TV and film industry and how could they be supported better.
The launch is accompanied by a short film titled Smashed? starring Alex Reece, which has been created by music video director Tim Pope and voiced by actor Adrian Lester.
The death of Steve Dymond following his appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show last month is a sombre lesson on the power that television has over people’s lives.
The participant on the controversial daytime programme had failed a lie-detector test, having been accused of infidelity by his fiancée. Following his death, the show was initially taken off air and then axed by ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall.
The event will focus on the general (freelance-centric) workforce in the TV industry and the mental health issues they may experience. It will also look at how companies can be “good employers”, and will highlight good examples of on-screen representation of mental health in general.
Working in TV can mean realising a dream. From meeting interesting people to attending glitzy award ceremonies, the television industry is, undoubtedly, an exciting place to work. But, amid shrinking budgets, long hours and a largely freelance working culture, what once looked like a fulfilling career can turn out to involve an unbearable toll on our mental health.