Leeds born Lisa Holdsworth’s screenwriting career covers some of the UK’s best known TV programmes. Starting with Fat Friends, Lisa joined the Emmerdale writing team before writing episodes of New Tricks, Robin Hood, Midsomer Murders, Waterloo Road, Call the Midwife and All Creatures Great and Small, as well as radio and stage work. Lisa’s stage adaptation of Adelle Stripes’ novel Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile opened in 2019. Covering the life of Northern playwright Andrea Dunbar, the production was listed as one of the Observer critics’ top 10 theatre shows of 2019. Lisa is currently Chair of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.
As a TV writer from the North of England working in an industry that gravitates around the south, Lisa shares her experiences of regionality and offers her view on how things need to change.
Even now, the regions are often viewed as the poor cousin of London and the South in the TV world. Regional work is often not taken seriously and there can be a blinkered view of the regions’ capabilities and opportunities. Further, age-old stereotyping is still common and Northern accents are often greeted with patronising assumptions and questions. Lisa suggests that a Northern accent continues to be equated with a working class background and that this can present difficulties for people trying to break into or progress in an industry dominated by the middle and upper classes. It’s no surprise that many people leave the industry because they are made to feel that their voice doesn’t fit.
Much of this could be down to the limited world view of senior executives and this is where change is needed. Although the industry needs people from all underrepresented groups to work their way up, this ‘trickle up’ approach will take generations to deliver the changes that are needed now. As such, there needs to be much better recruitment now into senior positions to ‘level up’ the industry and achieve much needed improvements in levels of diversity.