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Tales of Diversity and other Tastes



I just read the transcript of Armando Iannucci’s Bafta Speech which is an honest breath of fresh air about the current state of British television and the lack of risks (for the most part) that is being taken. As Mr Ianucci said, compared to American television, we are back in the dark ages in many ways and it’s time to bring back the anger that fueled people like Alan Clarke to make a difference.

My personal concern is the lack of diversity in television and the lack of parts available. It seems it’s ok to be stereotyped in Eastenders and Coronation Street to a point that makes Mind Your Language seem contemporary and I will get to Citizen Khan, the Great Brown Hope of the BBC’s diversity remit in a minute.

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Lenny Henry’s RTS speech was the first thing that opened my eyes and was all explained in the title “ The Road To Diversity Is Closed…Please Seek Alternate Route ”. What I took from it was that if you are from a diverse background, you have a better chance of making programming yourself rather than going through the television companies and with the growth of online content the playing field is being leveled and the grip of the British commissioners is beginning to loosen. That’s a good thing for those that don’t accept the changing landscape or try to push boundaries.

Two examples with British black actors who have made their names by going stateside, the first, Eamonn Walker who appeared in the seminal Oz and subsequently various film parts. Why did he leave in the first place? Have a look at his credits and you can see he had underwhelming parts in sitcoms. More recently Idris Elba who hit big with The Wire and only after that he got his own British TV series to cut his teeth with Luthor. Why did he leave? Lack of parts and lack of conviction for British television to get beyond the color barrier, which brings me to Citizen Khan (Again)

I have commented on Citizen Khan in a previous blog as an example of the commissioners (i assume) telling the talent what they think viewers want, which they clearly don’t when you hear the online reaction. It is also telling that when you see the Citizen Khan tweets which aren’t (hopefully) BBC micromanaged you actually see the real talent and point of such a character and one of Adil Ray/Khan’s tweets does more than the half hour show.

A true revolution is semi-taking place as everyone knows but the key point is that talent from diverse backgrounds can now create their ideas without negativity or simply being locked out of the inner circle. The downside is lack of money but the upside is autonomy.

This is the bit about me! I have written a short film to shoot which I felt was ready to make but now I am going through the script to add more depth and really think about how to make it better. It makes a difference to hear such a simple phrase. Make better programmes. To quote an old saying, if you have nothing to say then don’t say anything at all and I very nearly filmed something that said nothing.


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