Diversity, portrayal and representation
The BBC is for everyone. To reflect our audience in its entirety, diversity has to be at the heart of everything we do, both on and off screen. That means giving a platform to a wide range of voices, stories and talent from across the UK. We want to embrace the richness and depth of modern Britain, celebrating our differences as well as bringing the Nation together for shared experiences.
To deliver this requires diversity of experience and perspectives within creative teams and close collaboration between commissioning and production. We are committed to an open dialogue with our content makers, encouraging them to bring us a range of bold, challenging and entertaining ideas that reflect the whole of the UK and showcase the richness of our talent.
Across the BBC we have measures in place to focus our ambition:
The diversity and inclusion strategy
The BBC diversity and inclusion strategy sets targets to ensure that diversity is hardwired into everything that we do. Download the BBC diversity and inclusion strategy 2016 - 2020 from the BBC Diversity and Inclusion website to find out more.
The diversity commissioning code of practice
The BBC diversity commissioning code of practice sets out the steps the BBC will take when commissioning content to ensure that it accurately represents and authentically portrays the diverse communities of the whole of the UK. It formalises the actions that the BBC will take when commissioning content, sets expectations for content makers working with the BBC and outlines the support the BBC will offer in line with these diversity aims. Download the diversity code of practice from the Diversity and inclusion website.
The diversity and inclusion commissioning guidelines
The guidelines set out the operational requirements to ensure that all suppliers making content for the BBC share our values and expectations around diversity and inclusion.
Download the Diversity and inclusion commissioning guidelines (PDF).
The editorial specification within the BBC Content commissioning specification:
Designed to ensure the dialogue about diversity between supplier and commissioner happens at the beginning of the creative process. For all new commissions, content suppliers will have to provide details within the editorial specification of planned measures to increase diversity, both on and off-screen.
Visit the How we do business page to find out more about the commissioning specification.
Supplier diversity and inclusion policy
It is a contractual requirement for all BBC Content suppliers to have a diversity and inclusion policy in place. A template for this is available from the Creative Diversity Network (CDN).
BBC Television commissioners use Diamond (Diversity Analysis Monitoring Data) to inform and report on progress. BBC commissioners will use Diamond data to encourage dialogue and focussed activity around diversity and inclusion with content suppliers. Find out more about Find out more about Diamond below.
The diversity and inclusion development fund
The £2.1million diversity and inclusion development fund is ring-fenced development spend across the genres (factual, daytime, drama, entertainment and comedy). Find further information below.
The portrayal fund
The £2million portrayal fund provides additional funding for programmes, ideas or partnerships that reflect lives, stories and communities from all areas of the UK. The fund has so far co-funded the development of comedy, factual and drama new series and pilots from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, enabled high impact returning factual series such as The One Show to broadcast from more locations across the country and supported companies based in the Nations and regions to develop scripts and ideas with portrayal at their heart.
For more information about the fund, please get in touch with the relevant BBC business affairs contact.
BBC Writersroom is a cross-genre department helping to develop new and experienced writers for scripted genres including comedy, drama and children’s. The team have basis in Salford, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast as well as London, and encourage producers from across the country to get in touch. Visit the Writersroom website to find out more.
An online directory for producers of disabled actors trained via the BBC including showreels. Access the database.
Expert Voices BAME talent database
An online database for producers showcasing all the individuals from the BBC Academy Expert Voices UK-wide training days. From arts and culture to science, search via genre or look up individual profiles to find the expert voice you need. Access the database.
Expert Women database
An online database for producers bringing together all the individuals from the BBC Academy Expert Women training day. Find the right expert for any production. Access the database.
An online database of over 200 diverse broadcasting stars of the future compiled with the aim of creating a pipeline for new talent both in front and behind the camera. Access the hotlist.
Diversity and Inclusion Lead, BBC Content
Contact Babita Bahal for specialist advice on a production.
Pact diversity support
The BBC currently co-funds diversity support and project activity through Pact. This is tailored to support the needs of TV production companies. These include the Indie Diversity Training Scheme, Creative Access and the Creative Diversity Network’s Commissioner Development Programme. Find out more on the Pact website.
The Creative Diversity Network
Watch commissioners outline their diversity strategies
The BBC will:
- Only work with content makers who have a diversity and inclusion policy in place
- Encourage all content makers to bring these policies to life and actively engage in shaping and changing the culture, recruitment and working practices within their companies
- Require all content makers comply with current anti-discrimination and data protection legislation
- Expect all content makers to adhere to the BBC Content diversity and inclusion commissioning guidelines
- Expect all content makers to come with ideas that have already built diversity, representation and inclusion into their development
- Expect all content makers to engage in a dialogue about representation, portrayal and diversity, both on and off air
- Ask that an identified individual within each production company be responsible for delivering against the agreed diversity objectives
- Expect all producers to demonstrate their compliance with the guidelines and the commissioning specification agreement
- Require all producers to comply by the agreed approach and delivery and let us know of any changes as a priority
- Offer support and guidance as necessary and share best practice
What is the diversity and inclusion development fund?
We recognise that realising diversity ambitions occasionally needs additional support and that’s why we’ve ring-fenced funding to help.
The £2.1million diversity and inclusion development fund is ring-fenced development spend across the genres (factual, daytime, drama, entertainment and comedy).
The main objective of the fund is to develop and accelerate projects with diverse content or talent attached that are not ready for commission and need exceptional extra support. The fund is also a practical resource to help meet the BBC’s off-screen and on-screen portrayal targets by developing diverse talent (presenters, actors, comics, writers and production staff) through targeted initiatives/programmes.
The fund can also support the development of off-screen talent, including writers, actors, presenters and contributors, through targeted initiatives, particularly on returning brands
Criteria for fund allocation
- The diversity and inclusion development fund allows each genre to tackle areas of on screen under-representation to support specific projects and actions which go above and beyond normal development and production costs.
- It can be used to support ideas with BAME and disability stories and content that requires extra development or research.
- It can also be used to increase and develop disabled and BAME on-screen talent, including casting, training and support during the production process.
How to access the fund
There is no separate or formal application process for the fund and allocation will be discussed as part of the diversity conversation between supplier and commissioner during the normal commissioning process.
To aid allocation the BBC would like producers to include information in their proposals about why additional funding is needed that would accelerate the diversity of the programme idea. If agreed, the fund can then be allocated to a project by a commissioner.
Who decides on the allocation of funds?
The decision lies with the head of each genre/sub-genre, with guidance from and discussion with BBC’s diversity specialist. It’s important that the fund is allocated to a range of ideas, genres and talent as we aim to use it to maximise diversity across the breadth of our content.
When is the fund available?
Funding is available on a rolling basis via the genre commissioning teams.
For more information about the fund, please get in touch with the relevant BBC business affairs contact.
Our three priorities for disability portrayal are:
Talent: Identifying and nurturing disabled talent, especially on screen, to develop a pool of established faces in the heart of BBC schedules.
Normalisation: a higher level of incidental inclusion such that a disabled presenter, actor, contributor or game show contestant becomes unremarkable.
Innovation in disability content: unpredictable storytelling, formats that have scale and impact.
The best programme makers see disability as a creative opportunity, adding value for their audience.
Recent examples include:
- Paralympian Jonnie Peacock partnering with Oti Mabuse on Strictly Come Dancing
- An all disabled presenter and reporter line up for the Invictus Games
- Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me gave an insight into the world of the broadcaster and naturalist.
- The A Word's return for a second series had a real impact on audiences’ perceptions of autism, broadening its reach to include major storylines for two young actors with disabilities and the return of Ralph (who has down’s syndrome) for a bigger role along with the introduction of a new teenage character with autism.
There is much to celebrate, but more to be done.
We want to deploy disabled talent not just when relevant to the content but also where disability is not the story, allowing disabled presenters to work across any subject area and disabled actors to play any role, not just those with a disability storyline.
Great disabled talent is simply great talent. A disabled presenter or actor might make us more familiar with disability, perhaps bring a different or surprising perspective to the programme, but the bigger breakthrough comes when the presenter’s or actor’s disability is irrelevant to the subject matter.
The steps we are taking to realise these ambitions include:
- Development opportunities for sport/events presenters providing training and on air experience.
- A concerted effort in factual and daytime to identify new talent and develop established talent.
- Networking events and targeted searches to familiarise commissioners and producers with disabled talent.
- A specific focus on increasing disability portrayal and development of disabled actors across comedy and drama.
- Support for on and off screen talent, across all programme areas and genres.
Through these initiatives, the identification of new disabled talent and the continuing development of our more established BBC talent we are building a strong cohort of disabled talent capable of working across all areas of factual content.
We aim to encourage greater inclusion of disabled people appearing as contributors and experts across factual content, game shows and panel shows. From Eat Well for Less through Eggheads and Pointless to Dragons' Den, we want to see:
- disabled people talking about any subject, not just access or medical interventions
- disability as a part of their lives, not the only interesting aspect
- disability in the heart of the schedule, across all genres
Seeking bold new ways of bringing disability to a wider audience in surprising, entertaining and enriching ways. Making everyone more at ease with disability by covering disability stories with a light touch, never making disabled people feel like a special group who are only there to provide the rest of us with a dose of inspiration.
For commissions contracted after Nov 15 2016, productions will be required to complete production reporting via the online system Silvermouse. Those commissioned before this point should contact the relevant delivery area to discuss delivery methods.
It is mandatory that diversity reporting is submitted within two weeks of transmission or earlier if all data is available.
Diamond (Diversity Analysis Monitoring Data) is a new industry-wide diversity monitoring and reporting system created by the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Sky, and supported by Pact and Creative Skillset through the Creative Diversity Network (CDN).
The purpose of collecting this diversity data is to help the industry better understand:
- Who works in production: do contributors (both on-screen and off-screen - including all production team and crew) reflect the diversity of the UK population? This will be referred to as ‘actual diversity information’.
- Who’s on screen: are audiences of all kinds seeing themselves reflected on screen? This will be referred to as ‘perceived diversity information’.
The Diamond diversity forms have now been incorporated into the production reporting system Silvermouse, a web-based system for post-production paperwork.
The CDN, the BBC and other broadcasters can use this information to monitor diversity and assess progress against their diversity targets or commitments. They may also share this information with their suppliers. Any information they share will not name individuals and any published information will always be aggregated, for example across all commissions or by reference to genre, in order to avoid identifying contributors.
It is mandatory that diversity monitoring data is submitted within two weeks of transmission or earlier if all data is available.
Please note: Children’s still require the Children’s on and off-screen portrayal form to be submitted in addition to the data being submitted via Silvermouse.
Further information on CDN and Project Diamond can be obtained from the Creative Diversity network website. Online training modules are also available within Diamond. To access these a log in to the CDN website must be created, but this is a quick process.
Further information and guidance is available to Pact members from the Pact website.
New users to Silvermouse can obtain a login by following the link www.silvermouse.com then clicking ‘New User’. Existing Silvermouse users (including for other broadcasters) can use the same login details and do not need to request a new login.
For technical support queries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Non-technical support queries from BBC Studios should be directed to: email@example.com.
Children’s productions are required to submit Portrayal forms in addition to completing Diamond diversity forms online via the online production reporting system Silvermouse.
The Children’s on and off-screen portrayal form enables the BBC to monitor the portrayal of ethnic diversity and disability across programmes and helps gauge where representation and inclusion of diverse communities can be improved. Please note this form is purely for BBC internal use.
It is mandatory that the TV on-screen portrayal form or the Children’s on and off-screen portrayal form is submitted within two weeks of transmission or earlier if all data is available.
The forms must be completed and returned to the relevant delivery contact within two weeks of delivery for all programmes.
Forms must be completed and delivered per:
- Programme: for commissions with seven or less episodes
- Series: for commissions with more than eight episodes in a single run or for any Children's commission
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