Entertainment News

  • 19 March 2014, 14:05

Lenny Henry Attacks Britain's 'White' TV

Lenny Henry is calling for a reversal in the "paucity" of ethnic minorities on British television and comedy programmes.

The comic first spoke about improving diversity in film and television in 2008 but described his frustration that so little has changed to an audience at aBafta lecture on Monday night.

Just 5.4% of the broadcasting industry is made up of black, Asian, minority and ethnic (BAME) people, he said.

"The evolution of BAME on TV seems to lurch one step forward and two steps back."

Henry said he had been "very blessed" but was speaking on behalf of 2,000 people who have left the industry due to a lack of job opportunities.

He compared US and UK programmes and how well they representBAME talent.

While there is a "paucity" of black talent in British "high-end drama and comedy" such as Miranda and Broadchurch, the US has invested and nurtured talent which is evident in shows such as Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and Elementary.

Actor David Harewood, who has starred in the hit show Homeland, has been vocalabout how few jobs he is offered in the UK.

Using Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech as inspiration, Henry said he has a "screen dream" and wants to hold executives and commissioners to account over their decisions.

"I have a 'screen' where the actors of the future are cast not by the colour of their skin but by their talent alone," he said.

Henry is taking a proposal to ring-fence budgets for BAME productions to the BBC director general Tony Hall andOfcom today.

He said executives must meet two out of three criteria that 50% of on-screen and production staff are from an ethnic minority and that 30% of the company is controlled by black people.

Advertisement