Socio-economic background

People shared concerns with us about the way in which working-class people are portrayed on the BBC and on other channels. They said that extreme portrayals of working-class people affect how society views them.

People not in work or in lower-skilled occupations* rated the BBC’s performance in representing and portraying them significantly lower than the overall population. Many people told us that they view the BBC as a middle-class institution which doesn’t offer them relevant programmes and content. Some BBC employees felt that the BBC is still predominantly white and middle class. They said it is changing now – but slowly.

What viewers told us...

“Usually they try to portray the lower social classes as the ones who are being the drunks and the druggies.”

Female 55+ C2D Glasgow

“There’s still a class divide because they [BBC] portray it.”

Male 18-34 C2D Glasgow

“I think a lot of the dramas on BBC1 tend to be more middle class based.”

Female 45-54 C2D Birmingham

“There’s quite a lot of middle class [people] in the media industry... not so many working class.”

Female 55+ C2D Glasgow

What programme-makers told us...

“Too often people like this [from different classes and backgrounds] are merely the subject of documentaries made by white middle-class people for white middle-class people, too few of whom actually watch.”

BBC programme-maker

“I think social class is a very difficult area to address - particularly in the BBC's working culture. Unpaid internships and low-paid entry-level jobs exclude those from poorer backgrounds getting a foot in the door - especially in London where accommodation costs are so high.”

BBC programme-maker

TV viewing data

Middle class people watch an average 1 hour 21 min less TV per day than people from working class backgrounds**.

Working class women are the only group who spend more time watching ITV1 than BBC1.

*The DE socio-economic groups defined by NRS, which include semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers; state pensioners, casual and lowest grade workers, unemployed with state benefits only.
**Where middle class is ABC1 socio-economic groups and working class is C2DE groups.