Answer: They are immensely talented Black British actors who made their name in America when parts for them in Britain were (and still are) lacking.
I know what you are thinking, Mr Elba was in Luther but make no mistake, he made his name in The Wire and only after proving himself there, British Television gave him something meaty.
We now have David Oyelowo appearing in Jack Reacher and Lincoln. A talented guy who, for me, appeared in Shoot the Messenger, which was the last time the BBC tried it’s hand at controversial drama dealing with the black community. It was a great part for him but the Corporation since then has played it safe with ballroom dancing dramas starring 50-year-old white people. The kind of thing that wins Baftas!
Lastly we have Eamon Walker who starred in The Bill and, again, made his name in the States. Eamonn has been back but only as a star.
See a pattern emerging? Face it, there are no decent parts and if you want to get somewhere you have to cross the pond. This is a shame as we lose so much talent that can make British television great. Check their pre Hollywood IMDB credits and it’s one dimensional television shit-com parts.
Why is an Asian lad talking about black actors? Well, the issue of the lack of diversity goes across the board as we all suffer. Also reading that Lenny Henry commenting on the lack of black (and even Asian) actors nominated at this years Baftas shows a lack of commitment to break the trend.
Even Dev Patel scarpered to America for better parts and good on him. Who knows? If he came back what parts would be created for him? In the current climate, none. In fact an Indian actor i did a short film is looking to go to the States to make his name and honestly, i can’t blame him.
In fairness I am writing my own stuff and looking to get it made but if it doesn’t mean I am trying to ride on the coattails on Lenny Henry’s comments. I would simply like to see the schedules to be as diverse so there is programming much like American television. That would be nice.