Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright says being a woman still means she is overlooked
Her other hits include Last Tango In Halifax and At Home With The Braithwaites.
Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright says she believes her talents as a writer have been overlooked in the past because she is a woman.
The award-winning writer and director has earned the honour of a South Bank Show profile with presenter Melvyn Bragg, but she said the accolade was long overdue.
Speaking of the show, which recognises the highest achievers in UK arts, she told Radio Times magazine: “I thought, why haven’t they done this sooner?
“The South Bank Show did Paul Abbott and Russell T Davies years ago, but I’ve been overlooked… I think it’s because I’m a woman.”
Recognised for her hit TV series, including Last Tango In Halifax and At Home With The Braithwaites, Wainwright still regards her five-year stint writing ITV soap Coronation Street in the 1990s as one of her proudest achievements – more so than giving birth to her first child, George.
But she continued: “The whole atmosphere is overwhelmingly male and even now it’s tough, there are so many fewer women writers and directors.
“A lot of it is to do with women’s confidence. Women don’t put themselves forward as writers.
“When I started out, it didn’t occur to me that I would ever be discriminated against, but later in life I experienced the difference between how men and women are perceived.”
She added: “Men are trusted more, it’s just assumed they’ll be good at something, whereas women have to prove they are going to be good at it.”
Even now, she said, she feels like her talents as a writer are pushed aside, especially when it comes to awards.
While the Yorkshire-based crime drama Happy Valley won two Bafta awards this year (for best drama series and for Sarah Lancashire as best leading actress), she said: “Two weeks earlier, I’d won the Bafta for best writer at the Craft Awards, so it had actually won three awards… How does that make me feel? It’s like the writing Bafta doesn’t count.”
But Wainwright did praise some changes in the television industry as a whole as she hinted at a possible future project in Los Angeles.
After commenting on how a trip to the glamorous US showbiz capital made her feel like a “little, fat Yorkshire woman” who had to prove her worth, she admitted: “They commissioned a pilot right there in the room… I might even do it.”
Read the full article in Radio Times, out now.