I know I have banged on about ‘credits' before but on 2 December even The Independent joined in, with an editorial, no less, on the subject. Entitled ‘Credit where credit is due' it regretted the speed and size of the credits on Wallander. It was an excellent piece of drama starring Kenneth Branagh but the rest of the cast and technicians got scant airtime in the final credit sequence.
Many years ago I was given the choice, of being production manager on my fourth series of Beadle's About or redundancy. I mention this only to point out that even then the winds of change were blowing through the television towers and people were fast becoming just a number.
No longer was anybody concerned about your health, your financial status or your future career. Very quickly the whole industry - including the BBC - was turned on its head and the majority of us became ‘freelance'. I hated it. I still do. I miss my five weeks paid leave, the security of a desk and my parking space in the centre of London. And slowly over the years I developed a conspiracy theory that those still in permanent employment have very little time for freelance people and consider themselves superior.
A while back the end credits became the target for these in house ‘aristocrats' and they began to squeeze them to one side and fill the other half of the screen with their next up and coming piece of entertainment. I thought then that this was just a passing phase but it has now turned into a full on assault.
The BBC now squeezes your hard earned credit into less than one quarter the size of the screen. Unless you are lucky enough to have a TV screen the size of the average lounge wall, you stand no chance in reading who the participants in the programme you have just watched were.
The only ones that seem not to suffer are the top of the bill in the acting section, as these you can read just before they get squashed and the executive producer and the likes in the technical credits, which are readable as they unsqueeze the damn things.
Why do they do it? I have said it before and I will say it again. This is now one of the few opportunities for a freelance person to get their name out there. I once got an offer of work because a producer had seen my name at the end of a programme. He wanted the same ‘feel' for his new show and said to his line producer “Get me that man.”
Why have Equity not complained on behalf of the actors against this totally mind numbing habit? And why have the work force just sat back and accepted it? Could someone at the BBC stop this at once before every other broadcaster thinks it is a wonderful idea?
I was told that if I wanted to get the ball rolling, I should write to BECTU and get my letter published in their monthly journal Stage, Screen and Radio so I wrote. It didn't get published so the ball never got rolling. Equity did have a couple of letters in The Stage published on the topic but again nothing ever became of them. Apathy seems to reign but lets hope The Independent will keep the ball they have started rolling, rolling and maybe, just maybe we will all get a credit where credit is due and most importantly one we can at least damn well read.
Malcolm D Y Treen AIMC GLM, freelance location manager