Facts and figures

 “Skills shortages… the occupations where problems were experienced (in TV drama and comedy) were primarily in producing and directing such as: directors, production accountants, production managers and location managers.” - The Full Picture: The demand for skills in UK TV production, Creative Skillset, March 2015

TV drama

The Creative Skillset Employment Census 2012 put employment in the TV industry as a whole at some 50,600 people – and according to the recent Creative Skillset Workforce Survey 2014 about 30% of the workforce is employed in TV drama which would put the number of people working in drama at just over 15,000.

Comparing the TV drama workforce with that of TV as a whole the Creative Skillset Workforce Survey 2014 shows that:

  • the TV drama workforce includes more women (56%) than men (44%), which is very similar to the overall TV workforce, but
  • the age profile is a little different with a slightly greater proportion of under 35s in TV drama (39% as opposed to 36%), and
  • there are slightly fewer graduates (71% rather than 74%)
  • the research findings in Creative Skillset's report Painting the Full Picture shows that about two-fifths of the TV drama sector is freelance like the overall TV workforce, but the proportion may be higher in production roles in TV drama in particular, where the freelance workforce seems to be growing – with attendant challenges for training and skills development.

High-end TV

High-end television (HETV) is defined as those productions costing more than £1m per broadcast hour for the purpose of current tax relief. It is only a part of the TV drama landscape but recent research on this sector to help assess the impact of the tax relief has produced some useful figures on the sector’s contribution to the UK economy: 

  • In 2013 the HETV sector: 
    • supported the equivalent of over 8,000 full-time roles (FTEs) through direct employment
    •  generated over £380m in direct GVA

GVA or gross value added is used to measure the contribution to the economy of an industry or sector in the UK.

  • Taking account of the total economic contribution (including multiplier and spillover effects) the UK HETV sector in 2013:
    • supported almost 17,000 FTEs of employment
    • generated over £850m in GVA
    • contributed nearly £250m to the exchequer.

Multiplier and spillover effects relate to the wider economic impact of the HETV sector including the impact of the purchase of goods and services from other sectors in the HETV supply chain, the economic benefits from those employed in the HETV sector then spending their earnings and the impact on other areas particularly tourism, merchandising and the promotion of the UK brand abroad

  • For each £1 of high-end television tax relief (HETR) granted during the first year of operation, £8.3 in additional GVA was created through direct and multiplier effects. This equates to a taxation return for the exchequer of £2.48 in additional tax revenues for each £1 of relief granted.

This tax relief has helped drive major growth in UK production. This is reckoned to have grown eight-fold in the first year of tax relief – from production expenditure estimated at approximately £50m the year before the tax relief was introduced to production expenditure of nearly £400m in 2013–2014, with over half of this coming from international investment.

The introduction of tax relief for live action children’s programmes including drama from April 2015 can be expected to have a similar beneficial impact on the number of UK productions, production spend and potential inward investment in the coming years.

You can read more about the economic contribution of the UK’s film, high-end TV,  video game and animation programming sectors in this report presented to the BFI, Pinewood Shepperton plc, Ukie, the British Film Commission and Pact by Olsberg SPI with Nordicity in February 2015.


Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates from across the screen-based creative industries to help your career, project or company.

Sign up