Scottish TV star Morven Christie warns industry is still ‘enabling’ bullies and abusers

Morven Christie. Photographer: Anne Binckebanck
Morven Christie. Photographer: Anne Binckebanck
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One of Scotland’s top television stars has said the industry in the UK is still “enabling” bullying and sexual harassment as she vowed to tackle the issues head on to help future generations of actresses.

Morven Christie, who has made her name in Doctor Who, Grantchester, The A Word and The Bay, has spoken of her experiences of working with “horrible” and “monstrous” individuals.

In a podcast interview, the 41-year-old said she was still “plagued” by a sense of injustice enveloping the industry and how the business “enables” bullying and abusive behaviour.

Helensburgh-born Christie revealed she had decided to report a leading actor after a female co-star confided in her that he was going to “launch” himself on her.

Currently based in Glasgow, Christie said she had considered quitting it on at least four occasions since leaving drama school in London.

Speaking to actor Craig Parkinson on his Two Shot Podcast, Christie said: “One of the hardest things about this industry is the sense of injustice that seems to surround things all the time.

“ I have done some jobs with some real horrible ***** in the last couple of years. The sense of injustice around that really plagues me. It’s something I’ve really struggled with. I used to pipe down and would totally keep it zipped and would end up being pissed about. I’d internalise it and end up feeling depressed and turn it around on myself.

“It’s much easier now because I’m speaking up for other people. People don’t dick around with me like the way they would three or four years ago on set. It makes you really judge people. You just think: ‘Oh, you were not this nice to me three years ago. What’s all this about?’”

Christie, who was brought up in Aviemore and Glasgow, studied at Drama Centre London and performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company before performing with Oscar-winning Sam Mendes Bridge Project theatre company.

Christie said: “I feel way more me now at work than I felt five years ago. I’m not a different person, but I’m also not going: “I can’t f****** say that it loud so I’m going to go home and feel like I f******* hate this industry.

“We’re all in the same f****** side trying to make the same thing. If you just open everything up and put some faith in people it changes the whole environment. If you’re not screaming at people you will get it done in the time. People work better when they are not being f****** yelled at.”

“There’s been a lot put up with in this industry for a really long time – the hierarchical thing, the bullying and the sexual harassment and that whole culture of: ‘Well, it’s just f****** hard. If you want to do it you have to deal with it because there are 20 other people waiting around the corner. This just wouldn’t go on in other industries. In television, particularly, things get enabled that are just not OK.”

Christie she believed that covering up or not acting on allegations was equivalent to ‘tacitly supporting the abuse of other people.’

Christie said: “I’ve just had a long conversation with an actress I’ve known for a long time and who is quite a bit younger than me. An actor on a night out said to her ‘by the way, I’m going to launch myself on you by the end of the night because that’s what guys my age do to girls your age’.

“She had to do two emotional scenes with this guy tomorrow. At the time, she told him, ‘Can we agree you won’t do that?’ She told me about it afterwards and I went: ‘OK, is it OK with you that I go and speak to this person.

“I’m going to say something because I don’t believe that the environment that we work in should support that. That’s why this person is doing it.

“It’s not a delicate situation. ‘The only delicate thing is this person’s ego. I can now say to this person ‘I need to talk to you about something. I know that this happened. I know it was handled lightly in the moment, but then days later this person felt horrible about it and then had to do scenes with you. But this is sexual harassment. Do not do that again and if you do I will report you myself and it’s all coming out.

“The culture is not going to support this anymore. I’m really passionate about that. The victim doesn’t need to be able to manage a situation on their own.”