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Banijay UK is to offer 10 BAME freelancers the chance to gain at least two on-screen credits in a year-long development scheme.

The super-indie is investing £500,000 in a Fast Track programme, which will place the individuals in roles at a producer and production co-ordinator level and above.

Each candidate will be sponsored by one of Banijay UK’s labels, which include Shine TV, Initial, Darlow Smithson Productions, Douglas Road, Kudos, Dragonfly and RDF Television,  but will work on productions across the group.

Managing directors from these labels will act as mentors on the programme, which will offer leadership, development training, career coaching and access to an external commissioner.

Banijay UK said it wanted to help improve diversity in the industry by preparing candidates to take on more senior positions after the scheme.

“Talented freelancers are not progressing at the speed we would like them to as they are moving from contract to contract, often at a frenetic pace, and training, development and career planning can be put on the backburner, or just not be feasible in the light of squeezed production budgets,” said Banijay UK chief executive Lucinda Hicks.

Details of the scheme emerged as Banijay UK expanded Initial director of production Sandra Smith's remit to encompass all of its companies.

Smith (main picture), a former production manager for Initial, has has held senior roles at the Big Brother label since 2010, initially as head of production, where she also worked on shows such as Total Wipeout and Soccer Aid.

Initial has promoted production executive Jody Collins following Smith's promotion.

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