Skip navigation

Neil Percival

Principal Lecturer/Teaching Fellow

Department: Arts

Neil Percival worked in the TV industry for fifteen years, starting as a production trainee for a small independent company in Newcastle, and progressing to work as a freelance broadcast documentary producer/director for some of the UK's biggest factual TV producers. He ran an online community for freelancers in the UK TV industry which campaigned against exploitative working conditions, and created a successful networking group for media professionals in the North East.

Since joining academia in January 2007 he has taught professional practice modules on the BA (Hons) Film and TV Production programme, and as a Principal Lecturer has held roles in support of student experience, learning and teaching, and enterprise. His current role as Director of Employability for the Dept. of Arts draws on his research activity and publication in relation to entry level experiences of creative workers, attitudes to unpaid work, collective mobilisation, and career sustainability.

Neil Percival

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Neil's research interests encompass working conditions and sustainable careers within the media industries, and development of employability within an educational context for those aspiring to creative careers. Based on former experience of running a major UK online community for TV freelancers, his work has explored various stages and experiences of media careers. A two-year longitudinal study (as a PhD thesis) tracked experiences of around 100 entry-level film and TV workers during the challenging early stages of launching their careers. He has carried out extensive research into attitudes to entry-level unpaid work in the UK media industry, with a survey of over 1,000 professionals in the sector exploring differences between the TV and film production communities.

Looking at career sustainability, he has also explored career exit from the media industry, interviewing professionals who have left the sector, and exploring the reasons why, especially in terms of gender differences and challenges of parenting. His research has also explored examples of collective action and resistance to exploitative working conditions, looking in particular at the 2005 TV Wrap campaign against unpaid work, and exploring ways in which resistance is mobilised and organised in the creative sector today.

For forthcoming publication, in terms of employability, he is currently exploring the experiences of entry level UK film and TV workers in relation to their educational background, and examining the aspects of their education which helped them to navigate the early years of their career, or which they felt could have better prepared them for entry to the sector. He has also carried out educational research in relation to student group work, and use of video streaming to support formative assessment.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Gendered reasons for leaving a career in the UK TV industry, Percival, N. 1 Apr 2020, In: Media, Culture and Society
  • Get Up, Stand Up? Theorizing Mobilization in Creative Work, Percival, N., Lee, D. 6 Nov 2020, In: Television and New Media
  • Embedding organisational standards in 2016-17, Percival, N. 30 Nov 2016, Northumbria TQEF Conference
  • Entry level workers' disconnection from the collective memory of TV and film professionals in the UK: insight from survey data into experiences, attitudes and resistance to unpaid work, Percival, N. 12 Nov 2016, ECREA European Communication Conference
  • Profession, passion, or play? Attitudes to unpaid work in the film and TV industries, Percival, N. 12 May 2016, Work and Play: An Interdisciplinary Conference
  • Scholarship, or just social media? Creating an online community to support academics in the use of student group work, Percival, N. 27 Mar 2015, Three Rivers Conference
  • Scholarship, or just social media? Creating an online community to support student engagement and development through group work, Percival, N. 20 May 2015, Northumbria Research Conference
  • Unpaid work in the UK television and film industries: Resistance and changing attitudes, Percival, N., Hesmondhalgh, D. Apr 2014, In: European Journal of Communication
  • Survey of attitudes to unpaid work in the film and TV industries, Percival, N. 15 Feb 2013, Working life in the media and cultural industries
  • TV versus low-budget film: same laws, different ethics, Percival, N. 7 Jul 2011, Moral Economies of Creative Labour


  • Academic Studies in Education MA November 19 2014
  • Teaching & Learning PCAPL October 11 2007
  • English Literature BA (Hons) September 01 1988
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2013

a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

a person sitting at a table

Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

Texonomy Challenge Prize

Early career researchers are being invited to apply for £7,000 of seed funding to develop innovative…

India - we stand with you

As the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt across the globe, at Northumbria we want to…

More news

Back to top