Excerpt:

Are there enough black and minority ethnic people on our television screens? The comedian Lenny Henry thinks not and has proposed targets to ensure better representation. Lenny means stuff like Midsomer Murders, I think, which famously avoided using people of colour for a very long time in its absurd but strangely comforting dramas. I think this was to cater for people like me who enjoy watching affluent white people bludgeon each other with candlesticks in the library. In fairness, even Midsomer Murders once had some gypsies play a pivotal role in one episode — they lived in a gaily painted horse-drawn caravan, and were scrupulously tidy and probably filed their income tax returns ahead of schedule.

But in general, Lenny has a point, I suppose. If black people are poorly represented on TV it is because the industry is controlled by middle-aged white public schoolboys in the main. It is less representation on screen that is the problem than representation behind the scenes. Older readers may be inclined to suggest that back in the day sitcoms such as Love Thy Neighbour and It Ain't Half Hot Mum both portrayed 'BME' people in a sort of positive, if comical, role — but I don't think Lenny would agree with you if you ventured this as a serious refutation of his argument.


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