Tracy Brabin MP revisited several old haunts on a trip to Coronation Street to discuss social mobility in the media industry, while grabbing the opportunity to canvass a few doors on the familiar cobbled street in the process.
The MP took several local activists and campaigners along for the visit to the ITV studios in Manchester recently on a fact-finding mission where the group met senior executives to discover what is being done to get more working class people into the industry.
Never one to miss a canvassing opportunity, the MP tried the door of her old on-screen home of 9 Coronation Street, now home to the character, Fiz.
Unfortunately no-one answered, but a subsequent posting of the picture on Twitter led to lively speculation on which party the main characters would vote for.
It was decided Fiz would likely be a Labour voter – though bosses at ITV were unable to confirm her political allegiance!
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin, who played Trisha Armstrong on the soap in the 1990s, said: “To return to the set after all these years brought back a lot of fond memories and it was fantastic to catch-up with old friends.
“However, there was a serious intent behind my visit beyond a trip down memory lane. Too many young people, particularly those from working class families, are unable to get a foot in the door.
“This is has led us to a situation where, a few notable exceptions aside, the arts and cultural industries are dominated by those from privileged families.
“Cuts have led to a systematic eradication of arts education in our schools, while chronic low pay and insecure work mean that those from lower income families have no hope of paying sky-high drama school fees or supporting their children through unpaid internships.
“The Tory Government must act now to level the playing field and open its eyes to the far-reaching ramifications its austerity agenda is having on people’s lives.”
Last year Ms Brabin led a Labour Party Inquiry into the performing arts, discovering a “class-shaped hole” in the industry. More on the report can be found here.
Similarly, a recent study by the London School of Economics and the University of Edinburgh found that just 16 per cent of actors come from a working-class background, compared to 51 from a privileged background.
In 2016, The Sutton Trust published a report that found that 67% of British Oscar winners and 42% of BAFTA winners went to a private school, while just 7% of the population attend independent fee-paying schools.