Unmissable: An impressive line-up of talented TV women, but where’s the emerging talent?

Lena Dunham arriving at the EMMY Awards 2014. Photo: PA Wire

Lena Dunham arriving at the EMMY Awards 2014. Photo: PA Wire - Credit: PA

This week the Radio Times published its list of the 30 most powerful women in British television and there were some talented yet rather familiar faces to be found.

It’s an impressive line-up of presenters, actors, comedians, producers, writers and executives behind some of the best-loved shows on the box.

The likes of Victoria Wood, Mary Berry, Dawn French, Julie Walters, Sarah Lancashire, Miranda Hart, Joanna Lumley and Olivia Coleman are among the stars on the list. Some of those from behind-the-scenes include BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore, her BBC2 counterpart Kim Shillinglaw, and Channel 4 chief creative officer Jay Hunt.

There’s also former Suffolk schoolgirl Helen Boaden, director of the BBC’s national stations, a well as Anne Mensah, Sky’s head of drama, State of Play producer Hilary Bevan Jones and Pippa Harris, executive producer of BBC2’s Shakespeare adaptations The Hollow Crown.

That’s a group of women very worthy of acknowledgement and hopefully an inspiration to those wanting to get into TV without resorting to a desperate X-Factor audition or a booze-fuelled stint on Geordie Shore.


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But while it’s worth celebrating these very talented women of telly, the list is very white and rather middle-aged, with all but two aged 40 or over (Sheridan Smith, at 33, and 39-year-old Sarah Millican) and there’s only one non-white face to be seen (Anne Mensah) as pointed out in a Guardian blog this week.

Where is the recognition for our young talent? Where are the inspirational leaders from the black or Asian communities?

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Vicky McClure (Broadchurch, This is England) is one of the most outstanding young actors of her generation, along with Karen Gillan – who’s 26 – while Archie Panjabi has won top honours for her work in the Good Wife (championed in this column) and was great in this year’s The Widower on ITV. They’re hardly newcomers but all are very much on an upward trajectory.

Who will be our Lena Dunham – who has quickly become one of the most powerful women on US TV at the age of 28 following the success of GIRLS – or Tina Fey, who by the time she was in her early 30s was an established Saturday Night Live regular and had written and appeared in Mean Girls. Where’s our Mindy Kalling (35), who in the States gets to create, write and star in her own show, the Mindy Project?

Let’s have a list of 30 influential women under the age of 40 and see how that shapes up – I think we’ll see just how much talent there is out there.

What do you think? Send me and email at elliot.furniss@archant.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @Elliot_Furniss

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