Are the National Television Awards Still a Predominantly Male Event?

‘Televisions biggest night of the year’, the NTA’s, will hit around four and a half million screens around the UK at the end of January next year, and the lead up has been almost as eventful as the night itself is sure to be. Whilst it is true that documentary maker Stacey Dooley is in great company in the ‘factual’ nomination category of the NTAs, it is also true that this company is of a female minority as well as being an all-white affair. 

The thirty-two-year-old presenter was awarded the nomination for her programme ‘Stacey Dooley Investigates’ where the documentarist endeavours to uncover and expose sensitive and often unaddressed issues, frequently focusing on vulnerable women in the middle east. Dooley provides a voice for the marginalised and given the nature of her programmes, it is perhaps even more clear why Dooley’s elation at her appointment was tainted by the lack of female peers to join her. Dooley expressed her mixed emotions to her large following on her twitter platform with the statement ‘thank you!…where the HELL are the rest of the girls?!’. Some may say that such nominations are based on merit therefore gender is out of the question, but perhaps this is too easy of an answer. Why is it that women so often slip under the radar, particularly in this category, year after year? 

The idea that individuals from diverse groups have to fight for their place in awards such as the NTA’s was solidified further in an interview Dooley gave for The Guardian prior to her nomination. Here, she expressed the fact that she has faced criticism for her working class up-bringing from others in the industry which illustrates the fight she has faced to create a place for herself in investigative journalism. The fact that Dooley grew up in a single parent family in Luton and witnessed huge gulfs between neighbouring communities provides her with a unique perspective which she has clearly honed to create such insightful programmes, and many would agree that unheard voices such as these should be given a platform.

However, the NTA nomination is a demonstration of how such perspectives have to strive to be heard amongst the strong and repetitive middle-class white male narrative which the public hear repeatedly. The picture of Dooley’s efforts to be heard is further painted as we remember when she was criticised for appearing as a “white saviour” in her comic relief campaign where again she took to fight her corner via twitter. Due to such backlash in her attempt to have a voice it can be seen why she spoke so emotively in her Guardian interview this summer stating that “some people don’t understand why I’m on TV”. However, readers were assured of her persistence and unceasing drive to convey her perspective as she concluded that “I deserve to be there”. 

The shadow of lack of representation cast on Dooley’s achievement has been mirrored across the globe as Samantha Bee recently expressed her disdain at being the last female with a surviving late-night network television show in America. Bee commented that “It’s not really a badge that I want to wear” as she was commended for her on screen survival. Perhaps then, this issue goes further than the UK’s television awards and just the factual genre, but Dooley has highlighted a global-scale issue through her tweet and heart felt interview. 

Perhaps Dooley’s act of drawing attention to the ‘factual’ line up will pave the way for a snow ball of recognition towards other women and diverse groups in television, and it can only be hoped that next year the British public will have a bigger variety of candidates to vote for as the NTA’s approach. 

Image Credit: Bt Tv