'What’s on?' Rethinking class in the television industry



Partners and collaborators

BBC, Channel 4, Candour Productions

A stack of old TVs against a blue background

Postgraduate students

Dr Anna Viola Sborgi (University of Leeds), PDRF


‘What's on? Rethinking class in the television industry’ is situated in the context of academic, media, and public discussions about social class and the TV industry. From policy concerns about working class access to the sector, through to class as a prominent point of discussion in BAFTA award winners' speeches, class is important to national conversations about TV. Academic research has demonstrated that class is crucial in shaping what gets commissioned for television, who gets roles on and off screen, and the sorts of representations of social class that are broadcast and made available to download or stream.

What's on? understands class is an aspect of identity that is intrinsically entwined with other demographic characteristics and markers of identity such as gender, race and disability. This idea aligns with the recent policy and industry attempts to measure and evaluate workforces and audiences from an intersectional perspective. This intersectional understanding of class is present in academic debates over on-screen representation. Who is counted as working class, how class is connected to race and gender, for example, and the way inaccurate or distorted versions of working class life fail to connect to audiences, have all been important themes in recent research.

Key RQs are:

What is the impact of social class, understood intersectionally, on contemporary TV production? How is social class represented on contemporary TV? And how do audiences consume, understand, and respond to class on TV?

Working in partnership with the BBC and Channel 4, What's on? will analyse the production, consumption, and reception of two case study drama series. In doing so, the project connects questions of who produces, what is made, and how class is represented and understood.

Publications and outputs


Project website