How accurate is BBC banking drama Industry? Creators explain real-life inspiration

How much of BBC and HBO banking drama Industry is based on real life – and how much is fictional?

Industry (BBC)

BBC and HBO series drama Industry dives headfirst into international banking, a world apparently defined as much by sex and drugs as it is by spreadsheets and decimal points.

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Myha’la Herrold (The Tattooed Heart) leads the cast as Harper Stern, a young American graduate at high-pressure fictional London bank, Pierpoint & Co.

However, just how accurate is Industry’s depiction of finance companies? Are all the finance terms and jargon correct? And is there anything that the drama gets wrong?

Speaking during a press Q&A for Industry, creators Konrad Kay and Mickey Down, who have both spent time in the real world of international finance, spoke about how their experiences shaped the series.

Konrad Kay said: “Me and Mickey were adamant that we wanted to get 100 per cent of everything right that we could texturally about the world, you know, the production design, the jargon, the cadence of the language, the way people speak to each other. Coming from that world [of banking], we wanted people who watched in that world to be like, ‘OK, they are getting a lot of it right so I’m gonna go with it.'”

However, he added that both he and Down had worked “in the city almost seven or eight years ago,” so they had to address the modernisation that’s occurred in the industry by presenting employees on both sides of the “divide”.

Industry (BBC)
Industry (BBC)

“Me and Mickey were in the city you know almost seven or eight years ago, and obviously there’s been I would say there’s been a lot of modernisation and bringing things up to what we might call better work practises in 2020 in line with the cultural movements we’ve seen up to now. But part of the story of season one is having characters who sit very much on either side of that divide, people who are very much stuck in the past, older characters who yearn of those days of… flaming Ferraris – I mean, Harry [Lawtey]’s character Robert very much comes in expecting that to be the world.

“But, from episode five onwards, we really start to grind the gears of that kind of new world, old world conflict. And in that conflict there’s so much drama. Sara [Priyanga Burford] and Daria [Freya Mavor] are two very strong female characters in this series, but pushing it towards exactly what you’re talking about, which is like, ‘Surely this is not how people should be behaving in the 21st century?’ And the show is kind of asking that question, and it’s asking whether that change [in the industry] is ever really, really possible.”

The two creators added that there were, however, some aspects of the finance industry that still hadn’t changed since their time working in it.

Kay said: “The one thing I will say that hasn’t changed, truly and empirically, is it appears very democratic, everybody’s on the same level, you have all the literature about how we’re all pulling in the same direction, how we’re all gonna make money for each other and we’re gonna enrich the institution, but at the end of the day you’re still assessed on a cheque that you get in February from your boss which says that you either had a good year or a bad year. And that kind of tension between the collective and the individual hasn’t changed as far as I can tell in 2020, and [in] these institutions, and it’s very much at the core of the show.”

Down added: “Also the motivation of people going into finance is unchanged. Really. I mean you can wrap it up any way you want, but the motivation for most people going into finance is to make money. Whatever is driving that is interesting, and hopefully we explore the wounds in people that make them pursue jobs like this, but really the motivation is still to make money. So the DNA of people who were in it before the crash and the DNA of the people going into it now is similar.”

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Industry will air on BBC Two in the UK from 10th November at 9:15pm. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.