Tuesday, 6 January 2015

"We’ve had one day of diversity on Radio 4. Now for the other 364"

Lenny Henry, in The Guardian:

A few months ago, diversity campaigner Simon Albury visited the Today programme and was shocked to find a very male, middle-aged, middle-class production team running things. The only younger person there was the bloke asking if he wanted coffee or tea.

But why did this matter? It mattered because what Simon realised and exposed that day was that the news in Britain comes from one perspective. A perspective that is almost exclusively middle-class, and predominantly male.

So Tuesday morning’s show was a big deal for me. I was guest editor – yes Lenny Henry, the man who used to say “Katanga my friends” – in charge of curating the entire show.

In short, I had a unique opportunity to explore what the news agenda would look like if it came from a more diverse perspective rather than from the narrow point of view of the self-perpetuating metropolitan liberal commentariat.

But I realised that this would mean sacking myself, so I didn't.

7 comments:

Bayard said...

"we won’t get a Bame Pride and Prejudice or Middlemarch any time soon"

Well, duh, that's because there aren't any BAME characters in P&P or Middlemarch. What we have had, though, is a film which is the plot of P&P transposed to an Indian/Hindu setting (can't remember the name, though).
A more sensible point to make would have been to ask when we are going to see more televising of works of literature from BAME mother countries.

The Stigler said...

Bayard,

"What we have had, though, is a film which is the plot of P&P transposed to an Indian/Hindu setting (can't remember the name, though)."

Bride and Prejudice. Directed by Gurinder Chadha. Someone of BAME origin who can make films that people like and makes a ton of money, unlike Lenny Henry who would be unemployed if not for the BBC commissioning turkey after turkey from him.

Lola said...

I am sorry, but I just don't understand this white/black/Asian/whatever thing. AFAIAC it's just people with different skin colours. The questions in my head are always (1) are they potential customers or (2) are they potential employees? (Yes, Yes, in the case of 'girls/women' there is another question - or there was until I got to be 63...). Someone's skin colour is irrelevant. But, clearly, those two questions bring up 'cultural' questions, as in (1) if they are a customer will they pay their bills on time, and if (2) are they hard working, trustworthy and capable of doing the Damn' job?

So, just what is Lenny Henry on about?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Gurdiner Chadha is top woman ("Bajhi on the beach" = great British road movie).

But she's hardly "Indian", her Wiki page says she moved to the UK at the age of 2 (from Kenya I think) and she was on the radio the other day, she speaks perfectly clear normal English without adopting that vaguely irritating faux Indian accent used by Indians who have always lived here.

Bayard said...

"Someone's skin colour is irrelevant."

Well, not if you want to portray Elizabeth Bennett credibly.

Bayard said...

"Simon Albury visited the Today programme and was shocked to find a very male, middle-aged, middle-class production team running things."

This is the only bit that Lenny gets right, but what he fails to point out is the likelihood that the reason that the BAMEs don't get much of a look in at the BBC is not that they are BAMEs, but that they didn't go to the right school and university. Wesley Kerr is of Afro-Caribbean origins and had a very successful career in the Beeb, but he went to Winchester College and Cambridge University.

The Stigler said...

Lola,

Well, I think Lenny's basically itching to get a BAME unit at the BBC, probably with him in charge of it on a nice salary.

But it's worth pointing out different perspectives. Independent business people see things your way. But someone in a bureaucracy who is on a fairly fixed salary doesn't necessarily have his employers best interest at heart. He may be looking to maximise what he can make from it. Maybe doing favours to his buddies instead.

Traditionally, this "buddy" thing often fell along racial or religious lines. Which is (as Bayard correctly observes) an outdated way of looking at it. It's not that someone helps their white friends, it's that they help out their old university pals.

It's why markets are a good thing. People in markets have to seek out the best value staff, regardless of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation, because more enlightened companies will put them out of business by hiring the good people that they overlook.