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Tuesday 24th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

TALENTED actors are struggling to break into the profession because of the dominance of elite agents, Equity conference heard yesterday.

More than half the actors in BBC series Death in Paradise were represented by the top five agencies, according to union research. 

And a third of the cast of Inside No 9 were represented by just one industry player.

South & South-west London delegate Larner Wallace-Taylor said a “huge swathe” of Equity members in their twenties were “struggling to break down these doors” because they were not represented by the Beeb’s favoured agents.

Stage committee rep Linden Walcott-Brown said: “I’m sick and tired of hearing that there are no working-class actors when there are — but they are not with the big agencies.”

A motion passed at the conference urges the union to fund a research programme to monitor the dominance of big agencies and its effect on the range of actors getting parts, including their age and ethnicity.

The union also urged broadcasters to do more to recruit new talent rather than favouring a “core group.”

Liverpool branch chair Stephanie Greer said: “As a viewer, I find it dull to see the same actors in TV dramas and as an actor I find it frustrating.”

Sheila Jones, another Liverpool delegate, said the BBC’s failure to recruit new talent meant programmes were “heavily dominated by actors from wealthy backgrounds, from public schools, from Oxford and Cambridge.”

She urged broadcasters: “Open up, take risks, be much better.”