ITV comedy boss bans all-male writing teams

Tom Beasley
Contributor
Saskia Schuster commissioned entertainment game show 'CelebAbility', fronted by 'Love Island' voiceover man Iain Stirling. (Credit: ITV)

ITV's head of comedy will not give the green light to any shows with all-male writing teams in the future.

Saskia Schuster said she had changed her “terms of commissioning” after a consultation with writers, producers, agents and performers.

Speaking at Channel 4's Diverse Festival in Bradford, she said she recently realised that “an awful lot” of the entertainment shows she oversees are written by teams of men.

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She noted that, for every script she received from a female writer, she received five from men.

“Too often the writing room is not sensitively run,” she said. “It can be aggressive and slightly bullying.”

Saskia Schuster has launched the 'Comedy 50:50' initiative to "address gender imbalance" in TV comedy.

Schuster has launched the ‘Comedy 50:50’ initiative, under which any show commissioned or recommissioned under her watch must work towards a 50:50 split between the genders on its writing staff.

"I won't commission anything with an all-male writing team,” she said.

Brona C Titley has been hired as part of the writing team for CelebAbility, which was commissioned by Schuster and had no female writers for its first two series.

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The show is fronted by Scottish comedian Iain Stirling, who is best known as the narrator for reality series Love Island.

Brona C. Titley and Tony Cooke accept VH1 Development Deal during the 9th Annual New York Television festival at SVA Theater. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Speaking at the festival, Titley said all-male writing rooms often only provide “one kind of joke”.

She added: "If you've got different voices in the room, you're getting different kinds of jokes.

"You want to represent the wide audience that's watching. You want diversity in voice, or else it won't be as funny because it won't be appealing to as many people."

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As part of Schuster’s initiative, shows such as Roman sitcom Plebs have been assigned female writers.