ITV has cancelled plans to show the final episode of Noel Clarke’s primetime drama Viewpoint after the Guardian published detailed allegations of sexual harassment against the show’s star.
The five-part big budget thriller has been running every night this week at 9pm on ITV, but the conclusion of the story will no longer be shown on the broadcaster’s main channel on Friday night due to the “very serious nature” of the allegations raised by women who have worked with the actor and director.
“ITV has a zero-tolerance policy to bullying, harassment and victimisation, and robust procedures in place to investigate and deal with any complaints,” said a spokesperson. “We strongly believe that everyone deserves to work in a supportive and safe environment.”
The decision to pull the finale of a drama series from a mainstream television channel for off-screen reasons at the last minute is highly unusual. The broadcaster said the final episode would be made briefly available on its ITV Hub streaming service for viewers who wanted to see how the story concluded.
On Thursday night, the Guardian described the accounts of 20 women who claim that Clarke had sexually harassed them. The director, who first became famous for his Kidulthood series of films, strongly denies the accusations, which were made shortly after Bafta announced that it planned to give Clarke a special award for outstanding British contribution to cinema.
Sky said it had stopped work on the forthcoming series of the award-winning police show Bulletproof, which was created by and also stars Clarke, after reading the allegations.
It said: “Sky stands against all forms of sexual harassment and bullying and takes any allegations of this nature extremely seriously. Effective immediately, we have halted Noel Clarke’s involvement in any future Sky productions.”
Ashley Walters, the co-star of the show, said he was shocked by the allegations, “and whilst Noel has been a friend and colleague for several years, I cannot stand by and ignore these allegations”. “Sexual harassment, abuse and bullying have no place in our industry,” he said. “Every woman has the right to a safe workplace and moving forward I pledge my dedication to this.”
Vertigo Films, the UK producer behind of Bulletproof, said it had not received any complaints, but encouraged anyone affected to get in contact. It said: “Effective immediately, Noel Clarke is removed from any Vertigo Films production.”
Michaela Coel, whose award-winning BBC series I May Destroy You was influenced by her experience of sexual assault in the television industry, also publicly offered her backing for the individuals who spoke to the Guardian.
“I am here to offer great support for the 20 brave women who have come forward; those who have shared their identities with us, but also those who have preferred to use an alias.
“Speaking about these incidents takes a lot of strength because some call them ‘grey areas’. They are, however, far from grey. These behaviours are unprofessional, violent, and can destroy a person’s perception of themselves, their places in the world and their career irreparably. I have shared to show solidarity, to express my belief in them and to stand with them in their indignation. I applaud the Guardian and its journalists for investigating and publishing this story.”
Clarke has denied all but one of the claims made by the Guardian and said in a statement: “If anyone who has worked with me has ever felt uncomfortable or disrespected, I sincerely apologise. I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing and intend to defend myself against these false allegations.”