What impact could entertainment content have in 2022: Part three

In the final part of our series on the impact entertainment industry creatives would like to see in 2022, we hear from the radio, television, film and animation industry – including speakers confirmed for this year’s OKRE Summit.

From entertainment as a ‘healing force’ to the refusal to perpetuate lazy stereotypes, engaging with a society beyond ‘divisive digital bubbles’ to a call to mirror the challenges and complexities of the world we live in, there are a huge number of ways those working in entertainment believe it can have an impact.  

Anne Morrison, Creative Director of Nevision and a former BAFTA Chair and BBC Academy Director, will be moderating a discussion looking at the impact of our growing obsession with true crime at the OKRE Summit.

When we spoke to her about her ambitions for entertainment impact in 2022, she said: ‘In the film and TV industry I’d say the fundamental rule is “first do no harm”. That’s about refusing to perpetuate lazy stereotypes as well as our duty of care to vulnerable contributors. But it would be woefully unambitious to leave it at that in an industry which can be so influential in opening our eyes to injustice and inspiring us towards making the world a better place.

‘In documentaries and factual programmes in which I work, I’ve witnessed the beneficial effect of giving our time and attention to the stories of people behind the news headlines, such as the survivors of Mother and Baby Institutions in ITV’s The Missing Children, or the animated documentary, Flee, about a refugee from Afghanistan. Such films expand our understanding beyond whichever social bubble we inhabit and build empathy and understanding. I’d like to see that grow in 2022 and beyond.’

The benefits of looking beyond our immediate bubbles was also a factor for Tim Stimpson, who has written over 300 episodes of The Archers, and was responsible for creating the infamous character Rob Tichener. The story of domestic abuse between Rob and his wife Helen led to the show winning an ARIA for ‘Radio Moment of the Year’ when Helen stabbed Rob.

Tim said: ‘In an increasingly polarised world, I’d like to see content that reminds us that there is still such a thing as society beyond our divisive digital bubbles.’

Tim’s colleague Jeremy Howe, editor of The Archers, will be appearing at the OKRE Summit to talk about different approaches to weaving societal issues into continuing drama.

Christine McKay, Founder and CEO of award-winning animation studio Salamandra believes entertainment can reflect the nuances of the world around us. She said: ‘In 2022, I’d like to see entertainment content shift to focus on more customised audiences by mirroring the challenges and complexities of the world in which we live, increasing awareness, diversity, inclusion and a multiplicity of voices — changes that can all easily be implemented through animation, which can be cultureless, genderless and race-neutral.’

Podcaster, activist & speaker Sangeeta Pillai is the founder of the South Asian feminist network Soul Sutras which is all about tackling taboos within the culture. The diversity of voices that are given a platform was also a focus for her.

She says: ‘The entertainment we see on our screens doesn’t reflect the diverse, multicultural country that we live in. We don’t really see South Asian women beyond the usual tropes or one-dimensional characters.

‘For 2022, I’d love to see South Asian female-identifying voices and faces on our screens and in our media. I want to hear their stories, their complex, nuanced experiences. I want glimpses of the rich, cultural heritage, the glorious colours and forgotten tales that they carry within them. I want to see people who look & sound like me, my mother, my grandmother, my aunty – women who’ve never really been represented in our media. I want to know that our stories and experiences have value in British society. Because I know that through the arts, we can create positive, long-lasting social change in our society.’

Finally, Edward Fletcher, Head of Film & TV Acquisitions, Sales and Distribution at Rebellion Film and TV Studios, sounded an upbeat note about the positive power of entertainment.

He said: ‘Entertainment content has come into its own as a great source of comfort and stimulation during this time of global lockdowns and societal challenge. With production firing again I hope its impact grows further this year as a healing force as we recover and make changes in the world for the better. From that retreat to screens at home, Cinema has the opportunity to be at the forefront of this by being bolder, embracing the visual opportunities of the medium and broadening our mind and horizons.’