BBC, Fremantle, ITV, Prime Video, Sky Team on Fourth Edition of U.K. TV Breakthrough Leaders Initiative (EXCLUSIVE)

Rexa Vella

BBC, Fremantle, ITV, Prime Video, Sky Team on Fourth Edition of U.K. TV Breakthrough Leaders Initiative (EXCLUSIVE)

Giants of U.K. TV and streaming have combined for the fourth iteration of The TV Collective’s groundbreaking Breakthrough Leaders program.

The program aims to identify and empower 50 exceptional individuals from Black, Asian and global majority (a collective term for people of Indigenous, African, Asian, Latin American descent, who constitute some 85% of the global population) backgrounds who are poised to become the future leaders of the U.K. TV industry.

This year, the initiative co-devised by influential TV producer Remy Blumenfeld has considerably expanded its scope and will work in collaboration with Fremantle, BBC Studios, Prime Video, SKY and ITV Studios for the first time.

Together with Fremantle, the first three years of Breakthrough Leaders played a significant role in enhancing careers and have seen more than 150 TV professionals benefit from the initiative, with 95% of participants acknowledging improved career prospects. Achievements include a 30% advancement rate for Black, Asian and global majority leaders, securing promotions to new and more senior roles within the U.K. TV industry. The initiative lists Nasfim Haque’s appointment as head of content for BBC3, Vanessa Van-Yeboah’s promotion to series editor on the return of “Big Brother,” Waris IsIam’s directing work on Season 4 of ITV’s “The Bay” and Janine Thomas, Channel 4 commissioning editor, slated to transition from her role in the documentaries unit to lead the broadcaster’s “Untold Youth” strand as notable successes.

This year, the program is also supported by the Film and TV Charity, which supports the mental health and financial well-being of behind-the-scenes workers and the BBC. A damning industry report from The TV Collective in 2023 revealed that 50% of global majority TV professionals were unemployed, with 85% experiencing a decline in opportunities compared to the previous year and 75% were contemplating leaving the industry altogether, citing financial strain, career stagnation, and fear of bias and discrimination as primary reasons.

The 2024 initiative will aim to address those concerns and also promote regional talent by encouraging increased nominations from across the U.K., with active BBC support. It seeks more nominations for individuals who identify as disabled or are employed in high-demand professions. Selected participants will have access to masterclasses, networking events, bespoke career guidance and continuous support from leading industry figures throughout the year.

Amelia Brown, Fremantle U.K. CEO, said: “There’s never been a more important time to help support and grow talented individuals who are still underrepresented, and we’ve seen first-hand the exceptional work, and in turn the benefit to the industry, this initiative provides.”

Luke Seraphin, head of diversity and inclusion, Sky original programming, added: “Whilst progress is being made to increase representation in the TV industry, senior-level representation remains far below where it should be. With that in mind, Sky is proud to support The TV Collective’s Breakthrough Leaders program to nurture and support the leaders of today and tomorrow from under-represented groups.”

Fozia Khan, head of unscripted, Prime Video/Amazon MGM Studios, said: “We want to ensure there is greater representation of diverse creative talent in key decision making roles so that our industry has wider visibility and access, but ultimately, for our audiences/customers to know that their voices are being reflected both in front and behind the camera.”

Ade Rawcliffe, group director of diversity and inclusion at ITV, added: “As an industry and as broadcasters, we have a combined responsibility to keep pushing to improve representation at senior levels. This program has been brilliant at spotlighting and elevating talented diverse leaders across the industry. If you can’t see it, then you can’t aspire to be it, which is just one of many reasons why The TV Collective’s Breakthrough Leaders is so very needed.”

Lisa Hardy, director of HR, BBCS Productions, said: “Whilst it’s great that audiences are seeing more and more on-screen characters and presenters they can identify with, what The TV Collective’s Breakthrough Leaders program uniquely helps to address is representation in senior level roles.”

Simone Pennant, founder of The TV Collective, added: “The collaboration of five major U.K. studios to back this year’s Breakthrough Leaders sends a strong message about the continued importance and commitment to push underrepresented talent to leadership roles and ensures a practical boost in support and resources for this year’s leaders.”

Jessica Schibli, head of creative diversity at BBC, said: “We are proud to be supporting the TV Collective’s Breakthrough Leaders program this year to accelerate the development of underrepresented talent in leadership roles across the U.K.”

Nominations for this year’s program are now open and the unveiling of the 50 leaders is scheduled for April 30.

Separately, the BAFTA Breakthrough initiative in partnership with Netflix, draws from creatives working in film, games and television and places are awarded to those in the midst of, or on the cusp of their breakthrough moment, in the U.K., U.S. and India.

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