Yesterday I had the privilege of being able to attend the launch event for ACT FOR CHANGE
It was pretty much a full house at The Young Vic. Actors, directors, Casting Directors, Writers and Academics
ITV’s “where drama lives” was the provocation that brought this campaign, this movement into being. The YouTube video in the link isn’t actually the one that sparked the movement – in fact I couldn’t find it. But it’s as near as dam it. Only two Black actors appear in this ident for ITV dramas – just two and this was complied in February 2014!
There were two shocking facts that ring in my ears still. One which I had already heard but still find difficult to take in. Two negatives in an otherwise positive and hopeful campaign and the beginning of a conversation long overdue.
And they are:
The drop in BAME involvement (as highlighted recently by Lenny Henry) in the creative arts covering a period from 2006 to 2012. The number of BAMEs working in the creative industries fell from 36.3% to just 5.4% that’s an astonishing plummet of 30.9%.
How is that possible if we take as true the figured from the Office for National Statistics?
Between 2005 and 2010, respondents who
identified as White fell from 89.8 per cent to 87.6 per cent, while Asian or Asian British increased
from 4.9 per cent to 6.1 per cent. The remaining minority ethnic groups had increases of between
0.1 per cent to 0.4 per cent between 2005 and 2010.
And then there is The Equalities Act 2010
Section 29 of The Equalities act states that you cannot broadcast racist material. However there is a part 2 to this act, which apparently allows the UK to opt out of that. So, guess what the good old U of K did just that. The UK opted not to make it illegal to broadcast racist material. So the likes of the BBC (British Broadcasting Company), ITV or any other broadcaster can use the excuse that their creativity as a broadcaster could be jeopardised, if it was illegal to broadcast racist material!
Across the pond in the USA it is illegal to broadcast racist material.
I don’t see this jeopardising, restricting or hindering US creativity. It hasn’t stopped Film and TV productions from being made. If anything if the content that we receive in the UK from the US I’d say their creativity is blooming.
British people like me, seemingly don’t figure in these decision makers’ and gatekeepers’ landscapes. Their experience and knowledge of diverse modern Britain seems to be stuck in the past. It’s about time that this is changed.
Don’t tell me that there isn’t a market for dramas that actually reflect the reality of a diverse, poly ethnic and multicultural Britain. Where the protagonists are not all white, where BAMEs are not just the side-kicks, the supporting roles?
Don’t insult the viewing public. They can make up their own minds. Don’t tell me that there is no market. You can’t say that if you don’t have a variety a full range of products on the shelf to offer the consumer. The success of The Chinese Detective wasn’t down to only British East Asians watching the TV show.
So what the hell where those who lobbied and those who finally agreed that opting out of making the broadcasting of racist material not an illegal act, was a good thing?
We have to make the broadcasting of racist material an illegal act – surely?