In the wake of the numerous allegations made against actor Noel Clarke, members of the film and TV industry have signed an open letter calling for change.
The letter, which has been signed by more than 800 members of the UK industry, has been written in response to allegations of sexual assault, harassment and bullying made against the star. After being launched on social media the likes of Sarah-Jane Crawford, Dermot O’Leary and Joe Lycett have signed the letter.
Following the Clarke allegations, the piece highlights a broader culture of sexism and sexual harassment against women in film and TV and has called for industry-wide action.
“After reading the Noel Clarke allegations, many of us within the TV and film industry started sharing our own stories of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. His case is not a one-off and, shockingly, is not an extreme example,” started the letter, which was led by Meriel Beale, freelance producer and unscripted anti-bullying and harassment officer at industry union Bectu.
The letter has highlighted how the Clarke allegations have culminated in conversations between women in the industry regarding their experiences of abuse and harassment: “From talking over us, to comments in the workplace on our appearance, to men discussing openly what they’d like to do to us, to relentless private messages, to groping, to intimidation and to sexual assault. These are the stories women have been sharing over the last few days.”
The letter has outlined steps and recommendations that should be taken to make the industry a safer and fairer working environment for women. These included hiring more women in senior positions in both small and big screen productions and asking men to call out unacceptable behaviour.
Clarke has vehemently denied the accusations made by all 20 women. However, he issued an apology in a statement obtained by the BBC a day after The Guardian broke the story.
“Recent reports however have made it clear to me that some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise,” he said, before adding: “To those individuals, I am deeply sorry. I will be seeking professional help to educate myself and change for the better.”
The actor has previously starred in Doctor Who and Bulletproof and received a BAFTA for his Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema in April, despite the voting body being informed about the existence of several allegations made against Clarke. His award and BAFTA membership have been suspended until further notice.