Deepening Precarity - the Impact of COVID-19 on Freelancers in the UK Television industry

Jon Swords, Jennifer Johns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on freelancers in the UK television industry. Precarious careers are a dominant feature of the sector and the result of deregulation in 1990s. Employment and working practices which reproduce precarity lead to exploitation of workers, and discrimination and exclusion of those who do not fit perceived norms. Drawing on in-depth interviews with television workers based in northern England, we demonstrate how precarity is reproduced and increased within television when the sector was placed under pressure due to COVID-19 and established structure developed to help the industry function had been eradicated overnight. We find that economic imperatives of those with the power to control production trumped the needs of freelancers with less experience, without access to intermediaries and unable to maintain networks. The most precarious felt they had to take financial, personal and health risks to maintain relationships and gain new work.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalCultural Trends
Early online date18 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2023

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© 2023 The Author(s).

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