Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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Equal representation of women petition

More than ten thousand people, including some of the UK’s best known performers, have signed a petition calling on TV companies to address the imbalance of male and female roles on UK television. Recent research reveals that for every two male roles in a drama there is just one female. Make sure you join in the protest and sign the online petition here!

The petition is open to the viewing public to sign. Equity is calling on members to sign the petition and to forward it to your friends and family. If we get even bigger numbers, we can have a real effect.

Leading performers who have backed this campaign lead by a group of Equity members and backed by the union include: Penelope Wilton, Julie Walters, Imelda Staunton, Harriet Walter, Lindsay Duncan, Charles Dance, David Soul and Roger Lloyd Pack.

Maxine Peake, star of Channel 4’s Red Riding, commented: “I want to see more female driven dramas and about people who have lived.” Louise Jameson of East Enders fame added: “It is shocking that in 2009 we are still debating this issue of equal representation and equal pay for equal work. Only by unionising, only by putting our collective voices with, for and behind each other will anything move forward. I urge everyone, male and female, to join this campaign for the sake of the craft we are all so in love with.”

The text of the petition reads: “Over half the viewing public is female, yet in TV drama for every female character, there are two male characters - (35.3% female roles to 63.5% male roles). Whilst leading parts are frequently played by male actors over 45, women in this age group start to disappear from our screens. The message this sends to viewers is distorted and distorting. We call on all the major UK television channels to take action to correct this imbalance.”

Other signatories include Janet Jefferies, Miriam Margolyes, Stella Maris, Richard O'Callaghan, Tim Pigott-Smith, Pooky Quesnel, Carol Royle, Susan Wooldridge, journalist Arabella Weir and playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker.

Download a paper copy of the petition