Lenny Henry criticises Ofcom for ‘fake diversity’ in British television

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Sir Lenny Henry has hit out against the false diversity of British television, claiming that little has changed behind the camera despite an increase in front of it.

Henry is an active campaigner for addressing problems with diversity in the industry, reports The Guardian, and he has highlighted the need for targets behind the scenes as well as for actors visible to audiences at home.

Speaking in parliament, he said: “They suggest that as long as we have a BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] person on the TV screen, giving the appearance of diversity, then it is absolutely OK, fine peachy and dandy, even if the creators who make the content are completely un-diverse. This is fake diversity.

“It’s all very well to say: ‘Look, this person has an Asian antagonist or a gay second lead.’ That’s great but who was the producer, who was the commissioner, who was the script editor, the head of casting, the photographer, the director, the first AD? If the deciders remain the same then nothing has really changed.”

Though official figures for the BBC claim 14.5 per cent of workers are from a BAME background, this includes administrative staff and those from foreign language networks.

“[This is] a fight about who is, and who isn’t, considered British, a fight about whose voices do and do not matter,” he added. “Diversity isn’t a luxury, it is essential.”