Francesca Riando profile

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Francesca Riando

Brunel University London (2023)


Dr Sharon Lockyer


You’re Havin’ a Class! An exploration of the experiences of working-class scripted television comedy writers


Some of the best loved British comedies have been written by working-class people, for example Only Fools and Horses (BBC, 1981-2003) and The Royle Family (BBC, 1998-2012). The success of these programmes did not significantly pave the way for other working-class comedy writers into the industry. The Panic Report (2018) revealed that just 12.4% of people working in Film, TV and Radio are working-class. Furthermore, understanding the barriers for working-class comedy writers has not received significant academic attention. The importance and originality of this study is that it examines the experiences of working-class scripted television comedy writers through the lens of cultural sociology, centering writers’ own voices and scripts to provide new understandings.

Scripted television comedy is a powerful and integral part of UK culture with a significant socio-political role (Lockyer, 2010 pp.123). Working-class stories and characters in UK scripted comedy are either absent, or if present, perpetuate working-class stereotypes. Such absence or stereotypical constructions have implications for how working-class individuals and groups are viewed and treated within society. The experience and background of authors shape the nature, tone and topics of the comedies produced. Representations of class in comedy are socially and politically important, as is the perspective from which comedy is written.

The Industry relies on ‘Free Labour’ (Mills and Horton, 2016). This represents a detrimental cost for working-class people. A pertinent example is, This Country (BBC, 2017-2020), written by and starring, Daisy May and Charlie Cooper. Despite the comedy’s success, the writing duo experienced barriers connected to their working-class background.

This research aims to: 1) understand the lived experiences and barriers that exist for working-class writers of scripted comedy; 2) explore how the comedy industry can become more equitable for people from working-class backgrounds; and 3) examine the relationship writers have to the representations they produce.