Opting out of the government working hours directive has been common practice in the broadcast industry for many years as filming shoots are perceived as complex, demanding and expensive. The opt-out clause is often the only way ambitious shooting schedules can be achieved and viewed as freedom from convention, but is this really the case? The almost macho ethos of staying ‘until the job is done’ effectively ignores how impossible this work ethic can be for mothers to subscribe to. Much has been written about the challenges faced by mothers in the creative industries; however, there is little work on how television production shift patterns may act as a barrier for women to carve out long-term careers after the age of 35.

This chapter will address this gap by asking the central research question: can a different approach to filming schedules support caregivers as well as production companies in an industry already witnessing shrinking budgets? To complement this enquiry, the study will investigate current working practices and shift patterns in the contemporary television industry. It will analyse data derived from a number of interviews conducted by the author with industry professionals and construct biographical representations from those responsible for workload models, including TV production managers, executive producers, and talent managers.

Drawing on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, I will show how these patterns of behaviour and thinking within the production processes are fundamentally exclusionary to women with caring or other commitments. By imposing a long working hours culture, the TV industry allocates advantages and disadvantages, some of which are in conflict with motherhood. The chapter will end with examples of existing best practice which can support production staff with caregiving responsibilities.