Netflix U.K. Content Heads Discuss Diversity, Disability and Local Programming at Edinburgh TV Festival

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Netflix’s top U.K. content executives have underlined the streamer’s ongoing efforts in the fields of empowering diversity and disability, both on and off-screen.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Monday, Anne Mensah, VP for original series, and Fiona Lamptey, director of U.K. features, revealed that they favored the “show not tell” approach towards achieving diversity and disability goals.

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“I’ve been commissioning long enough to know that the systemic problems in the industry surround us all… I own my part in that fully,” said Mensah. “But I do think that now’s the moment to lean in and do it. And hopefully, the change will be on screen in the next year, two years.”

“I’ve been on the ground as a producer and I can see where there’s gaps,” said Lamptey. “I think when we talk about diversity, we talk about doing so much, and actually, if I can help five people, that’s what I’ll do. If you help those five people, they can reach out to their networks.”

In the area of disability, Netflix works with the Disabled Artists Networking Community and Access All Areas. “I totally would say we’re at beginning of our journey,” said Mensah. “And I would absolutely say that right now this second, perfect is very far away from where we are. But I do think we’re working towards it.”

The executives also discussed a “U.K. out” approach to local programming where the focus was on serving U.K. subscribers first, but with a global outlook.

Both Lamptey and Mensah acknowledged the importance of Channel 4 to the U.K. media landscape, but did not specifically comment on its impending privatization.

Meanwhile, Netflix has “trebled” U.K. output, as Mensah revealed, while Lamptey said that the streamer is not doing a “snatch and grab” on top talent.

“We’re spoilt for choice, we’ve got the best in class,” said Lamptey. “I haven’t aggressively pursued any kind of talent deals. But there definitely are some existing ones.”

Popular U.K.-produced Netflix shows include “Bridgerton,” “Sex Education” and “Top Boy,” with Babak Anvari’s “I Came By” and Sebastian Lelio’s “The Wonder,” starring Florence Pugh, coming up amongst the locally commissioned features.

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