Sunday, June 26News That Matters

Hollyoaks launches guardians scheme aimed at tackling racism

The production company behind Hollyoaks is launching a guardians scheme in an effort to tackle racial inequality among the soap’s cast and crew.

Lime Pictures’ measures come after some cast members claimed they had experienced racism on the series.

The company’s bosses, Kate Little and Claire Poyser, said: “As a community and company, we have clearly got some things wrong.

“Together we will improve and learn from our mistakes.”

In June, one of the show’s stars, Rachel Adedeji, said she experienced racism while working on the Channel 4 soap.

Adedeji said a senior producer referred to black cast members using a racial slur and claimed black actresses were told to change their hair.

At the time, Hollyoaks’ producers said they were “deeply shocked and saddened” by the issues that had come to light.

Another Hollyoaks star, Talia Grant, has since said she had “dealt with difficult situations and micro aggressions” on the soap.

What measures have been announced?

The guardians scheme, spearheaded by the Old Vic theatre, is detailed in a 17-page document, which includes:

  • An “inclusivity action plan” targeting areas including training, outreach, creative inclusivity and hair and make-up
  • A peer-led volunteer support programme, The Lime Guardians, to provide neutral and confidential assistance as people consider how to respond to concerns
  • A new cast liaison role dedicated to supporting artists
  • Hiring Verna McKenzie as a Caribbean cultural adviser, joining the soap’s Pentecostal faith and Islamic cultural advisers
  • Hiring a welfare executive officer, an independent position sitting outside of production, whose role is to support the cast
  • Extra training for those involved in recruitment, performance review and staff development
  • Establishing a Lime Values Board with people mostly appointed externally to review and set quarterly targets relating to inclusivity
  • Undertaking a review of its recruitment practices for staff and freelancers, looking at when, where and how they recruit
  • Taking on external partners, including Mama Youth, which trains young people from under-represented backgrounds for roles in the media industry

The Old Vic Theatre Company’s guardians scheme was set up after 20 people at the theatre came forward with allegations of inappropriate behaviour against its former artistic director, Kevin Spacey.

The document said guardians programmes have “worked very positively” in other creative companies, having been spearheaded by the Old Vic.

Lime Pictures, which also produces The Only Way Is Essex, is looking to roll out a similar structure across its unscripted shows.

The document added: “We would like to assure you that all complaints have been investigated thoroughly and we have taken or are taking appropriate action.”

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