British TV Shows Must Meet ‘Diversity Targets’ to Win BAFTA Awards

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock (2010) Titles: Sherlock, The Empty Hearse People: Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch Photo by Robert Viglasky - © Robert Viglasky Photography
Robert Viglasky via IMDB

British television shows must meet a range of racial and gender targets in order to win awards at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) ceremony, the Radio Times reported on Tuesday.

Under the new changes, entries will be assessed against the British Film Institute’s Diversity Standards to ensure they meet a range of new eligibility rules.

These standards involve measuring participation and the “representation of minorities” or “socially disadvantaged people,” with factors such as race, gender, disability, age, and sexual orientation taken into consideration.

The new rules also include a requirement that at least one of the “lead characters, contributors, presenters or voice artists” in any nominated show program come from an under-represented group.

Furthermore, all nominees must also have a 50-50 gender balance for “secondary, or more minor on-screen individuals.”

“Working in close consultation with the BFI and the wider television industry, we are delighted to be piloting the introduction of the BFI Diversity Standards, with the plan to fully introduce diversity standards for 2021,” said BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry.

“Our aim is to bring the industry together to improve diversity and inclusion through sharing best practice, encouraging collaboration, driving change and, ultimately, to become more inclusive,” she continued.

BAFTA brought in similar rules for their film category counterpart last year, with entrants to several categories being required to meet at least two of the four BFI Diversity Standards, which include “on-screen representation, themes & narratives,” “project leadership & creative practitioners,” “industry access & opportunities” and “opportunities for diversity in audience development.”

The rules came into effect for this year’s ceremony, where the Netflix original film Roma was named Best Picture. Meanwhile, Rami Malek and Olivia Colman were awarded Best Actor and Actress respectively for their roles in Bohemian Rhapsody and The Favourite. 

However, BAFTA isn’t the only British awards ceremony making changes. Last month, it was reported that organizers of the British Phonographic Industry’s annual popular music award, known as the BRITs, are planning to scrap the male and female categories from 2021 onwards, in what The Times said was a way of “accommodating musicians who define themselves as non-binary.”

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