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Gogglebox: Channel 4 show responds to allegations of poor staff welfare

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A TV production company has said it takes the welfare of its staff “extremely seriously” after allegations of “inhumane” working conditions behind the scenes of Gogglebox.

The show is one of Channel 4’s biggest hits but requires a lot of editing before its Friday night broadcast.

A report in The Guardian alleged staff are shouted at and have to work excessive hours without any breaks.

Studio Lambert said it had “support systems in place” for staff.

The Guardian said it had heard from multiple members of staff who previously or currently worked on the series.

“People have had enough. You don’t turn up to work to be screamed at for 12 hours a day,” a former employee told the newspaper anonymously. “It was the worst job I ever did. The way that it’s made is inhumane at times.”

The allegations follow the sudden departure of former showrunner Tania Alexander, who quit abruptly and without explanation in November, mid-way through the latest series.

image captionThe Siddiquis are one of several families who regularly appear on Gogglebox

In a statement to the BBC, the production house said: “Studio Lambert takes the welfare of its teams extremely seriously across all its productions, and has a number of measures in place to encourage people to come forward with any concerns they may have, as well as support systems for a range of issues.”

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Gogglebox requires its production staff to quickly sift through and edit hours of footage every week in time for its Friday night broadcast.

Some staff on the show alleged they had deleted the NHS tracking app so they would not have to self-isolate because they had been warned against disrupting production.

Studio Lambert said: “All our shows since March last year have been produced with Covid-19 safe protocols.”

Channel 4 said it has “a clear code of conduct which sets out the standards of behaviour it expects from its suppliers and production partners”.

“We can’t comment on anonymous allegations and rumours, but we are satisfied Studio Lambert is taking appropriate action to ensure the welfare of its teams and to enforce appropriate standards of behaviour across the shows it makes for us,” the network added.

image captionGogglebox stars Izzi and Ellie pictured in 2018 collecting a National Television Award on behalf of the show

It is not known whether any formal complaints have been made to management at Studio Lambert, however the Bectu trade union confirmed to the BBC it has received a number of complaints.

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Gogglebox is one of Channel 4’s biggest hits, regularly attracting a consolidated audience of more than million viewers, including those who watch on catch-up.

The show sees members of the public give their opinions on a variety of television programmes broadcast that week.

The series has won four National Television Awards and a Bafta for best reality and constructed programme.

It began airing in 2013 and made stars of some of its contributors. After appearing on Gogglebox, Scarlett Moffatt went on to win I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! and scored a presenting role on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Reverend Kate Bottley, another former contributor, is now a regular on BBC Radio 2’s Pause For Thought, while George Gilbey went on to appear in Celebrity Big Brother.

image captionViewers tune in weekly to hear opinions from members of the public like Sophie and Pete

The show is currently off air, with the Russell T Davies drama It’s a Sin being broadcast in its usual timeslot. However, a new series of Gogglebox will air from February.

The programme has been able to continue filming during the pandemic thanks to strict health protocols.

Crew members are not required to be in the same house as the contributors as the cameras are already rigged up in their homes.

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Some viewers have questioned how certain families still appear as part of the same household when they don’t live together, but Channel 4 has maintained that all guidelines are being adhered to.

Television programmes and movies are allowed to continue filming during lockdown thanks to an exemption announced by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

The current government guidelines also state that people who live on their own are allowed to form a support bubble with another household.

Because Gogglebox’s stars and staff live in the UK, it has also been largely unaffected by last month’s tightening of the rules on travelling to the UK from overseas for TV and film production.

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