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  1. ITV Report

ITV bans all-male comedy writing teams

ITV's head of comedy Saskia Schuster was speaking at an event on diversity in the media. Credit: PA

ITV's head of comedy has said the company will no longer commission shows with all-male writers or one that has just a “token woman”.

Saskia Schuster, who has commissioned shows including Benidorm and Celebrity Juice, says ITV's contracts have been changed to make sure that female writers are represented.

"Too often the writing room is not sensitively run," the broadcaster's controller for comedy said.

"It can be aggressive and slightly bullying," Ms Schuster added.

After reviewing the make-up of the comedy shows that ITV was making, she found that while on screen representation was fairly equal, on the writing teams, women were largely unrepresented.

Ms Schuster said she was only receiving one script submission from a female writer for every five scripts written by a man and set about tackling the imbalance.

"The first thing I did was I changed my terms of commissioning," she told Channel 4's Diverse Festival.

"I won't commission anything with an all-male writing team."

Last year Schuster founded the Comedy 50:50 initiative to get more women into writing for comedy, as well as creating an independent database of female writers, regular networking and mentoring opportunities.

As part of the commissioning process, Schuster explained, writing teams must aim for 50:50 representation with the commissioner required to sign off on the make-up of writing teams.