The award-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern accused the BBC of institutional racism yesterday, saying the only black people working there were in low-pay jobs. Interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live, the creator of the popular crime drama Cracker criticized the corporation, telling the presenter, Simon Mayo: “I work quite a lot at the BBC. You see a lot of black faces in the BBC, but you see them in the canteen.”
The Liverpool-born writer, whose BBC drama The Street won a Bafta award earlier this year, added that the BBC was “one of the most racist institutions in Britain”. McGovern, 57, who has also written for the Channel 4 soap Brookside, continued: “You don’t see [black people] in positions of power.”
Within minutes of his comments, made during a live debate on racism, and Mayo’s subsequent request for a response from the BBC, a spokesman came on air to defend the corporation, which has 26,000 staff in Britain. He said the BBC was constantly searching for new talent from ethnic minority groups but admitted there were challenges. “It is something we are always looking to improve on,” he added.
Later, the BBC released an official statement, saying that an accurate reflection of viewers and listeners was the chief concern. “What really matters is that we reflect our audiences through our programmes,” it said. “The BBC’s ambition is to reflect the ethnic and social mix of people around the country and we are actively seeking and nurturing ethnic talents, both on and off-air.”
The broadcaster then highlighted recent programmes it claimed had reflected this, with a list including Freema Agyeman, the Doctor Who actress whose mother is Iranian and father Ghanaian, the forthcoming show DanceX, featuring the British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili, and dramas such as Waterloo Road.
Notice the BBC’s defense to charges of institutionalized racism against Blacks is to point out they’ve hired people of middle eastern descent. Or really of Persian descent, Persians are of course Aryans. It’s shocking that people who preach multiculturalism, the idea that ethnic groups should maintain their separate traditions and in essence ghettoize themselves, would themselves prefer to “stick with their own” and surround themselves with people just like them. Shocking if you are yourself shockingly niave.
Conservatives have argued this point for years, pointing out time and again that the media was little more than an effete neo-socialist echo chamber populated by mediocre writers who dropped out of their MFA programs.
Now it’s supposed to be shocking that they are primarily White.
Stop the presses! You mean people who think it’s more important to “go green” and protest corporations supposed malfeasance than to feed a family of five on $20,000 a year with cheap groceries from Wal Mart are all the sheltered spawn of people for whom a trip to a big box store is “slumming?” Perish the thought, I thought reporters were gritty, street wise characters who knew what the word on the street was.
The BBC is as White as a Klan meeting, as is the New York Times and every other media outlet. This likely skews their view, and this report from The Independent might have been quite the shocker. In 1992.
It’s time we stopped pretending to be shocked at what kinds of people end up in Journalism, and start holding them accountable for their accuracy, objectiveness and ability to get the news out to the public. Those are things that even a White reporter can handle.