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BBC’s New Diversity Mandate



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The Telegraph reports:

One in seven BBC presenters and actors is to be black, Asian or minority ethnic within the next three years, it has been announced, as Lord Hall pledges to improve diversity.

Lord Hall, the director-general, has promised 15 per cent of on-air BBC staff will be black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) by 2017, along with one in ten managers.

Critics have already condemned the policy as “absolutely ridiculous”, claiming recruitment should be conducted irrespective of race and without the “PC tokenism that makes people’s blood boil”.

Speaking at the BBC’s Elstree Studios, Lord Hall promised the corporation aimed to be “beyond reproach” on diversity issues, as he announces a new group of advisors including comedian Lenny Henry, athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and broadcaster Baroness Floella Benjamin.

He has now confirmed a set of targets for the BBC, to be fulfilled over the next three years.

Lord Hall said: “The BBC gets much right on diversity, but the simple fact is that we need to do more. I am not content for the BBC to be merely good or above average.

“I want a new talent-led approach that will help set the pace in the media industry. I believe in this and want our record to be beyond reproach.

Maybe the BBC can request data from the cable companies next to make sure viewers are watching a mandated number of minorities on television?

And as for diversity and the BBC, my favorite BBC show was the now-canceled Luther starring the wonderful Idris Elba. The interesting aspect about Luther is that the character wasn’t written specifically for a black man. Here’s the show’s creator Neil Cross on the role and Elba:

Cross also talked about how he created the character – specifically, whether he always intended for Luther to be a black man:

“It was cast as a character, purely and simply, which is one of the aspects that attracted Idris to the role. I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a black man in modern Britain. It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write – and you have to try to imagine the quote marks around the words – a black character because I don’t know what a black character is and we would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a black character, which would have been an embarrassment for everybody concerned. I suspect that there’s a dearth of decent roles for black actors because most writers are white and they try to write their idea of black and it’s an embarrassment.” 

I like this approach. Find the right actor for the roll regardless of his or her race, and if it’s a good show, the audience will watch.

The rest here.



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