Entertainment

Sir Lenny Henry: Actors’ strikes have made life incredibly tough for UK workers

Sir Lenny Henry has teamed up with the Film And TV Charity (Ian West/PA)
Sir Lenny Henry has teamed up with the Film And TV Charity (Ian West/PA) Sir Lenny Henry has teamed up with the Film And TV Charity (Ian West/PA)

Sir Lenny Henry has said that the actors’ and writers’ strikes in the US are just one of the factors that have made life “incredibly tough for UK film, TV, and cinema workers this year”.

A team of celebrities, including the 65-year-old actor and comedian, have teamed up with the Film And TV Charity to raise awareness about the financial hardship that creative industry workers face this winter.

In the short film, the famous faces talk about the impact of the now-ended Hollywood strikes, which had caused the entertainment industry to go into shutdown when they were first announced – with much-anticipated films including Deadpool 3 immediately wrapping production in the UK.

Speaking about the campaign, Sir Lenny said: “The strikes in the US are just one of the things that have made life incredibly tough for UK film, TV, and cinema workers this year, with the Film and TV Charity stepping in to support people affected by a wider downturn in production, the cost-of-living crisis and a host of other factors.

“I completely understand that many are finding life difficult, but there are also plenty of people across the industry and in wider society who can afford to help, so I hope that by making this film, we can appeal to them to put their hands in their pockets.”

Starring alongside Sir Lenny in the video is Dinnerladies actress Maxine Peake, comedian Rosie Jones and former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat.

Speaking to camera in the video, Moffat said: “Around the world, huge parts of the industry shut down during Hollywood strikes.

BBC Inside Man screening – London
BBC Inside Man screening – London Steven Moffat speaks in the video for the Film And TV Charity’s winter appeal (Suzan Moore/PA)

“Now it’s great that the strikes are over, but the impact on film, TV and cinema workers has been huge.

“Also there’s been a prolonged downturn in production, owing to a complex set of issues.

“What isn’t complex is that UK workers are struggling to feed their children, heat their homes and pay the rent.”

The actors’ strike came to an end in early November after union Sag-Aftra agreed a “tentative deal” with Hollywood studio bosses.

In September, the writers’ strike, which began on May 2, came to an end after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) accepted a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Speaking about the Film And TV Charity’s winter campaign, chief executive Marcus Ryder said: “The financial pressures being felt by many industry workers – and the strain this has on their mental health – is immense.

“We have to brace ourselves for what is looking like the toughest winter many people in the industry have ever faced.

“I’m so grateful to Lenny, Maxine, Rosie, and Steven for the time they’ve given to help us draw attention to this, and hope that their involvement in our appeal film will provoke those who are able, both within and outside the industry, to donate so we can maximise the support we can give to our brilliant, creative workforce this winter and beyond.”

Hartswood Films CEO Sue Vertue, and Moffat added: “We’re proud to pilot what we think is a practical, easy way for companies currently in production to show their support for the vital work of the Film and TV Charity.

“We’d like to encourage other companies currently in production to consider allocating their own donation line to their budgets as it’s clear that far too many across the industry are set to struggle this winter.”

Hartswood Films has dedicated a donation to the charity which is specific to the eight-week production of Moffat’s forthcoming comedy drama for ITVX, Douglas Is Cancelled.