A letter calling for a shakeup in the culture of the UK film and TV industry, penned in response to the accusations made against actor and producer Noel Clarke last week, has attracted more than 800 signatures at the time of writing.
The letter has been penned by Meriel Beale, a freelance producer, anti-bullying campaigner and harassment officer at Bectu.
The text responds to the allegations against Clarke – which come from 20+ women and range from sending unsolicited explicit images to filming a nude audition without consent – by questioning how such actions have become normalized and even accepted widely in the UK biz.
Clarke has denied the accusations of sexual misconducts but has also said he will seek “professional help”. At the weekend, it was confirmed by BBC News that a complaint had been made to Met police of alleged sexual offences against a man understood to be Clarke.
“We just want to do our jobs. But we end up having to manage and navigate these situations. We don’t want to be seen as ‘killjoys’ and we don’t want to anger the men into violence. It is a constant, terrifying tightrope. We are exhausted and we are angry,” the letter reads.
It goes on to suggest that a lack of women in positions of power throughout the industry, as well as a wider lack of diversity, is contributing to a lack of accountability.
“This is just one of the areas of discrimination and abuse within the TV industry and one that intersects with issues of race, gender, sexuality and disability,” it reads. “The Diamond survey from January 2021 reveals that, as in 2018-19, women, transgender, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and disabled people continue to be less well represented in senior roles. In fact, there has been a decrease in contributions at senior level made by females (47.1%, down from 50.4% in 2018-19).”
“It is time to rethink the culture of TV and film. It is time to put an end to this culture that turns a blind eye to predators and harassers operating in plain sight,” the text concludes.
Here’s the letter:
Following the Noel Clarke allegations, many women have opened up to each other about what it’s like working TV & Film. Here’s an open letter to the industry. Please sign and share if you feel happy to. Men too – we need you to be allies.https://t.co/19cdP4UWrK
— MerielBealeisreal 💙 (@merielbeale) May 5, 2021
BAFTA not backing down
Last night, BAFTA deputy chair Pippa Harris appeared on Sky News to defend the org’s actions. The awards body has caught flak for handing Clarke its Outstanding Contribution To British Cinema prize despite being made aware that allegations against the actor were bubbling prior to its ceremony.
Harris told Sky she “absolutely” stands by the BAFTA hierarchy including chair Krishnendu Majumdar and chief executive Amanda Berry, stating that decisions were made “with the full endorsement and knowledge of the board”.
“This whole affair has been extremely difficult, as you can imagine, for everyone involved, and Krish has worked all the way through together with the board. It has been a joint decision-making process,” she said.
“Krish has not been doing anything on his own. So any criticism that has been levelled at BAFTA should be levelled at everybody. It is really not right to single people out.”
Sky also spoke to Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, founder of the British Urban Film Festival, who called for the resignation of BAFTA top brass.
“People need to be held accountable,” he said. “As an organization, that starts from the top. If the chief exec needs to go too, so be it. Krish cannot continue in his post because him being there, him remaining there, just sends completely the wrong signal because whichever way you look at it, BAFTA have just dealt with this horrendously.”
“If we had had one fraction of the information that the Guardian had had, we would never have given an award to Noel Clarke,” Harris claimed.
“That is obvious, but we didn’t have that information. The first time that we saw the actual allegations against him was when they were published by the Guardian newspaper and as soon as we saw the allegations, we suspended the award.”
Earlier this week, the actor Adam Deacon took to Twitter to post a statement regarding his relationship with Clarke. Deacon acted in Kidulthood and sequel Adulthood but had a fractious relationship with Clarke that culminated in Deacon being convicted of harassing Clarke over claims he had sabotaged his career. Deacon was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In his statement, Deacon claimed he had been “the victim of Clarke for 15 years” and blamed the actor for “gas lighting” him to such an extent that his mental health broke down.
— Adam Deacon (@realadamdeacon) May 4, 2021
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