. . To hate that there's not enough black people on tv

(143 Posts)
Iloverusks Fri 27-Sep-13 11:44:59

Yesthey are flittered into the soaps and some tv shows. But since Desmond's there has not been a tv show where the majority of the cast are black. Of course there are countless "all white" shows.

In these multicultural times why is this the case?

cooeeyonlyme Fri 27-Sep-13 11:46:58

Same could be said for Polish, asian, gypsy etc..

nancy75 Fri 27-Sep-13 11:50:50

When ever they do make shows about anyone other than white people the shows are dreadful (there was a show fairly recently about an Asian family that was just one stereotype after another)

Feminine Fri 27-Sep-13 11:52:28

I haven't noticed any shows with only white people.

aren't most shows a mix these days? I would/hope expect them to be?

I think it would look dated to only have one race.

Hopingthisisagoodidea Fri 27-Sep-13 11:53:58

Not enough black script writers, producers maybe?

TV is full of stereotypes of all backgrounds. Lazy writing really.

MrsBucketxx Fri 27-Sep-13 11:54:01

Yup theres is mix now not just white not just black.

Tbh I dont notice colour, people are people what ever race.

FlapJackFlossie Fri 27-Sep-13 11:54:02

If you go to Africa, most of their programmes and soaps are predominantly black. I wonder why that is ??

GangstersLoveToDance Fri 27-Sep-13 11:55:32

White is still the majority race in this country. I would have said tv in general is fairly representative to be honest.

MmmmWhiteWine Fri 27-Sep-13 11:56:35

I guess because Britain is still approx 90% white so perhaps not as multicultural as we're sometimes led to believe. TV programmes, at least those set outwith London or Birmingham, with all white casts are probably reflecting more or less the norm in the rest of the country.

racmun Fri 27-Sep-13 11:57:15

I don't think I've seen any all white tv shows!

Mollydoggerson Fri 27-Sep-13 11:57:57


nicename Fri 27-Sep-13 12:01:09

Not enough people with red hair on the telly. I've never seen an albino either (apart from some dan brown crappy film). Or bald people. Not many of them either.

TabithaCampbellBlack Fri 27-Sep-13 12:04:44

In these multicultural times why is this the case?

Well, you answered your own question, surely?

We are multicultural and I think most TV shows reflect that. What would be multicultural about an all black show?

Used to absolutely love Desmonds smile

PaulSmenis Fri 27-Sep-13 12:08:47

It is a bit shit. Then again, some parts of Britain are more multicultural than others.

SilverApples Fri 27-Sep-13 12:11:57

Children's TV has a high proportion of non-white faces, but there are probably different guidelines for producing programmes aimed at the under 18s.
Despite the propaganda, the population is largely white in the UK, so unless there is positive discrimination and quotas set, the situation won't change.

SilverApples Fri 27-Sep-13 12:13:38

Or actors with a disability where the entire role isn't focused on the disability.
Name a couple?

poppydoppy Fri 27-Sep-13 12:14:45

I just wish they would find good presenters for TV. I dont care what colour or where they are from.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 12:15:02

I'm less worried about numbers than about the type of parts black actors get. Look at how many good black actors get roles in the US they would not get here. Prime example, David Harewood, who was Estes in Homeland. he said, and I think he's right, that he would not have been considered for the role of senior MI5 official in an equivalent UK drama.

And I don't care that there possibly hasn't been a senior black MI5 official in real life-you shouldn't need to see the change in real life to be able to cast very good black actors in the TV drama.

And dark-skinned and older black woman are INVISIBLE in UK TV and film, and the US isn't much better. Don't let's even mention the representation of black women in music vids. It is very depressing.

Hemlet Fri 27-Sep-13 12:15:59

I like Jeremy Kyle's new doctor, Dr Aaron Ghosh, which has nothing to do with anything except he's multicultural and I wanted to bring him up.... wink

geekgal Fri 27-Sep-13 12:16:25

It is a little weird, I think the last statistics they did said ethnic minority groups make up nearly 15% of the country but only about 5% of tv. But it's the same (or possibly worse) with women, as we make up over 50% of the country but less than 30% of tv roles. And working class people as well. It's all kind of grim...

FlapJackFlossie Fri 27-Sep-13 12:17:16

Well Eldritch - don't come to the Westcountry, or you'll be even more depressed !

TinyTear Fri 27-Sep-13 12:23:23

multicultural isn't all about one other culture...

it is a mix of cultures, representativ of society

WaspInTheHouse Fri 27-Sep-13 12:23:59

White privilege

PaulSmenis Fri 27-Sep-13 12:24:02

FlapJackFlossie is right!

I loved Desmonds - smile

I don't know if shows with all black casts are what we need now though. I often wish there were better roles for women and older people. Some 'youth' programming particularly on Channel 4 and to a lesser extent BBC3 has very good casting and provided substantial roles for Black and asian actors. But the size and demographics of the UK will probably mean black actors will never get the range of roles available in the States (for e.g.).

So yes I would like to see prominent roles for women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and older people on tv, I also want the roles to be well written, not cliched and stereotypical - but even now that seems to be a big ask. I also look forward to when a persons ethnicity rarely has a bearing on the role they are given.

nickelbabe Fri 27-Sep-13 12:28:34

i think black families (and asian too) within shows that depict family life are important to have.

I should imagine that a show should be commissioned on merit, though, not on what colour the cast are?

This reminds me about the ex-producer of Midsomer Murders who was tackled about the lack of black people on his show. He said, basically, that although Midsomer as a county is fictional, it was based very much on the villages and small towns where it is filmed, namely Oxfordshire and Berkshire, which is almost exclusively white apart from the very large towns and cities. Therefore the series including very, very few black people was accurate.

Unfortunately he didn't choose the best words to say this and he was attacked (rightly, for choice of words) and had to go.

I am nearly 40 and where I live is relatively rural and similar to those counties and if you set a programme here, even in a decent sized town, you'd probably have a cast that was 86.5% white English, 1% white Scottish, 1% white Welsh, 2% white Irish, 2% Asian, 7% white Polish and 0.5% black.

There is definitely a higher percentage of black people on TV now than when I grew up, though. I only ever remember Trevor MacDonald and Lenny Henry from the late-70s and early-80s.

I loved Desmond's too!!!!

manicinsomniac Fri 27-Sep-13 12:30:00

I haven't noticed as I don't have a tv so most programmes I watch are American and therefore quite multicultural.

I imagine it's representative of the UK though isn't it? I think the UK is about 10% non white so very very white biased.

FlapJackFlossie Fri 27-Sep-13 12:31:13

I also look forward to when a persons ethnicity rarely has a bearing on the role they are given.

You'll be a long time waiting I think.

DiamondMask Fri 27-Sep-13 12:31:14

'So yes I would like to see prominent roles for women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and older people on tv, I also want the roles to be well written, not cliched and stereotypical - but even now that seems to be a big ask. I also look forward to when a persons ethnicity rarely has a bearing on the role they are given.'

^ that.

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 12:31:29

Eldritch - I've been quite impressed (well, surprised) by the ethnic mix in stuff about the police. Admittedly some of that was Luther grin but also that rather terrific series where everyone shot each other in the end about pensions.

Otherwise I agree with you.

MikeOxard Fri 27-Sep-13 12:31:32

Yes, if only there were more black people on tv, things would be so much better...

YABU and fucking weird! What's wrong with you? The tv reflects the racial mix in the country fairly well imo.

SilverApples Fri 27-Sep-13 12:31:56

It's around 12% non-white, and the distribution is very variable with large clusters in cities and whole counties with comparatiively few.

WaspInTheHouse Fri 27-Sep-13 12:32:40

The tv should represent the racial make-up of the country in number terms is hardly a valid argument because shows are set in specific places. So, why always choose predominantly white places? Why is a run down working class area always about the white working class? Why is a middle class area about the white middle class? Why do historical programmes never show minorities as if the whole of the UK was only populated by white people until the 1960s?

WaspInTheHouse Fri 27-Sep-13 12:36:04

This reminds me about the ex-producer of Midsomer Murders who was tackled about the lack of black people on his show. He said, basically, that although Midsomer as a county is fictional, it was based very much on the villages and small towns where it is filmed, namely Oxfordshire and Berkshire, which is almost exclusively white apart from the very large towns and cities. Therefore the series including very, very few black people was accurate.

This argument only stands up if the those areas also suffer from VAST murder rates. Now if the murder numbers can just be made up why is it such a stretch to include minorities?!?

Wasp - I believe Downton Abbey is about to have a black character. But generally, prior to WWII, the numbers of non-black people in the UK were very, very low.

Mother ooh I liked that one about the Police and pensions and shooting it was called 'something something the line' or something blush and had a great cast!

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 12:38:25

But a damn sight higher than people commonly think, actually, in the big cities.

oops, I meant non-white people in my previous post!

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 27-Sep-13 12:45:58


I loved Desmonds too and it pleased me no end when a clip from it was shown in the tv bit in the Olympic opening ceremony smile.

Portrayal of ethnic minorities is still very poor.

Wasp good comment.

I think falling back on stats to defend the lack of varied casting is a little weak and depressing - fictional programmes are not restricted in the way documentaries are - they can play with reality and cast actors that are right for the role or will do interesting things with a role. Challenge the staus quo. A quota system is not what we need. Casting directors and producers should be braver - civilisation will not come to an end if there are black people protrayed in Engilsh rural setting or in a costume drama.

sashh Fri 27-Sep-13 12:49:11

I see your black cast and raise you disabled cast, event he last leg is 1/3 able bodied.

(oh and if we are just looking at not whit then what about goodness gracious me and the Kumars?)

DesperatelySeekingSedatives Fri 27-Sep-13 12:50:45

I'm currently bopping along to the Desmond theme tune thats playing in my head grin fantastic show.

I do see your point OP especially is certain shows like Eastenders where in RL a lot more people would be many other different races than white British which is what the show potrays.

PlayedThePinkOboe Fri 27-Sep-13 12:52:43

YANBU. sad I despair at so few black characters on tv/film - especially stuff which comes out of the US.

I'm no expert but I understand there are enormous black populations in Birmingham and Bristol - where are they represented on mainstream TV?

Dancing on the Edge is an example of a recent series with a majority black cast. It was a costume drama set in the 1930's and was very good I thought.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 13:51:59

FlapJack I know the West Country quite well (bits of it anyway) but I hear depressing things about it now. Seems to be getting worse not better.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 13:53:52

I like Jeremy Kyle's new doctor, Dr Aaron Ghosh, which has nothing to do with anything except he's multicultural

Is that the new euphemism for black or Asian then?

mrsjay Fri 27-Sep-13 13:56:11

^Or actors with a disability where the entire role isn't focused on the disability.
Name a couple^

I was just going to say this the last one people were offended by the title and thought it was making fun and insulting to disabled people confused

there is lots of black faces on tv maybe as telly programmes is about storylines and not casting then people don't notice,

what about women over 40 on tv is normal women not naggy mother types

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 14:03:20

True mother (hello, dear), Luther was good for that: black male lead; black female lead; mixed race second male lead. Amazing, in fact.

I don't think there should be quotas and it isn't about rigidly reflecting population percentages. Just about a sense of inclusion and also giving talented actors roles, whether minority ethnic ones or disabled actors or whatever, not just unthinkingly defaulting to a white able norm.

There are a lot of black coppers in TV drama, but not so many black doctors, academics, lawyers, accountants etc. Why not give an incidental role as e.g. a surveyor or a teacher in a drama to a BME or disabled person? Why is it that the UK produces absolutely fantastic actors from all communities but the non-white ones end up going abroad in order to work regularly?

Often people won't cast them as they think it is jarring. A playwright friend of mine was asked by producers if he minded a particular role in his play going to a black person (who was in the end not cast). Why even ask him? It amounts to: 'Oh, we're giving you the chance to engage in a bit of racial discrimination here'.

How can Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Adrian Lester and David Oyelowo take the RSC, West End Theatre and Hollywood by storm but not get TV or film roles in the UK?

nicename Fri 27-Sep-13 14:05:45

You rarely see a pregnant woman unless it's part of the the storyline. I suspect something awful is going to happen to the pregnant pathologist in Whitechapel.

PatPig Fri 27-Sep-13 14:07:01

The UK is only 2% black.

South Asian is the largest minority community in the UK

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 14:11:20

Going back to the OP, I think it does matter to have programmes where black characters are not just the exception, surrounded by white people.

That way we see black/Asian/etc people in families and friendship groups, interacting with one another in a normal natural way, not just as the lone different person. I suppose soaps do that with black and Asian families.

When black people (going back to that as that's what speaks most directly to me) are portrayed it is often in rather narrow ways. Always African-Caribbean origin, not African. Almost always from and in London. Usually with certain stock attitudes and characteristics. Boring and annoying.

StuntGirl Fri 27-Sep-13 14:16:13

Marianne Jean-Baptiste is one of my favourite actors ever, I loved her in Without A Trace.

I don't actually watch television anymore, we have Netflix. I think virtually everything I've watched recently has been predominantly white though. More could defiitely be done to move away from the standard white man casting though.

That said, wrt black British actors moving to America, I read a really intereating article about how British actors in general (and soap actors especially) are in high demand in America due to being cheaper, less arsey and having a stronger work ethic.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 14:19:40

Well, that's fairly accurate, Wasps. Huge swathes of the Cotswolds are now virtual no-go areas unless you can afford your own bodyguard (although if you can afford your own bodyguard, statistically around 25% of the time they will secretly be related to your mortal enemy or have a personal grudge against you, so that carries its own risks).

Even cities like Oxford pose significant risks. On average, based on an analysis of Inspector Morse , a typical student will expect to see 2.7 of his/her friends murdered over the course of a three-year degree (except mathematicians, who will see both of their friends murdered).

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 14:30:02

Yep, you're much better off in south-east London where it is both charmingly multicultural (in the genuine sense of the word: my road, from the alkies' hostel at one end to the posher houses at the other, spans a gamut of effnic mixes, not all of which are correlated with the economic ones) and you can get through the day in safety.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 14:31:29

Someone give Eamonn Walker a UK role. I would watch that man creosoting a fence.

Eldritch - um, I think Adrian Lester was the lead in 6 of the 7 seasons of the fairly major BBC show Hustle, so I don't think you can say he doesn't get TV roles in the UK. He was also in the godawful Bonekickers that the BBC rightly cancelled after one series.

Sometimes, an actor can also be particularly tied up with theatre that they can't do a series or film at the same time. Adrian Lester does quite a lot of theatre.

Interestingly, I would say that you definitely see more black actors on stage a lot more, and possibly in a better ratio than on TV a lot of the time.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 15:28:31

I didn't say he never got any. I am aware he was in Hustle. But he is not working regularly in British TV, which given his looks and talent, is something of a surprise. And when you see that lots of the other black British actors around at the moment aren't either, then a pattern emerges.

UriGeller Fri 27-Sep-13 15:33:15

Why is football coverage part of the tv News?

Some things I will never get my head around.

BillyBanter Fri 27-Sep-13 15:37:33

It'd be quite nice to see more diversity injected into tv/films etc at the casting stage rather than at the writing stage 'let's make this character black and therefore with these characteristics and storylines', 'let's make this character disabled and have a storyline about that'.

Eldritch - but that could simply be his choice or availability rather than a failure on a casting director's part not to put him up for certain TV roles. He also writes and directs and, like some actors, may well prefer stage work. And one series of Hustle each year for six years would generally be regarded as regular TV work and a six-episode series might take two-three months to film. He's doing Othello at the moment at the National Theatre.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 15:51:33

Apparently Jodie Foster's agent is under instruction to look out for interesting men's roles and put her forward for them; a number of her recent parts were written for men and went out to casting call looking for a man. And IIRC Peter Dinklage' s part in The Station Agent was written for an actor of normal stature.

US television and film is much better at writing black characters/casting black actors but IIRC (based on recollection of an article I read that had specific figures in it) absolutely terrible at representation of Hispanic and Asian (South-East Asian/Indian subcontinent/other) characters.

FreudiansSlipper Fri 27-Sep-13 15:56:31

well why not have a sitcom that is based on a black/polish/gypsy family. i thought citizen khan was funny, not great but funny. a sitcom that sees the amusing side of life from another perspective

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 15:58:30

Eldritch - but that could simply be his choice or availability rather than a failure on a casting director's part not to put him up for certain TV roles

Of course, it could. Hence my point about other black actors (and Asian actors) also not being regularly featured, and a pattern emerging. It is even worse for the women than the men, I think.

lljkk Fri 27-Sep-13 16:05:12

As someone who lives in an extremely white area I find people of colour seem over-represented on tv. Not that I care, but it seems tokenistic quite often.

I heard a scriptwriter talking about how hard it is to cast actors of colour. He said his team will be brainstorming about which character will be what and are open to a person being any colour, but when it comes to actual casting the producers become very afraid that any negative traits will be seen as stereotyping or perjorative if the minority-ethnic character is the only person with that negative trait. So the safest thing to do is to keep everybody white to avoid offence. Especially true for comedy, not much better for thrillers or drama.

And this is why there are so few interesting parts for non-white actors. They get stuck with fairly bland good-guy or bad-guy parts.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 16:21:55

So what we need first is more BME, disabled and trans producers to change thinking where casting is concerned. It really isn't that difficult and doesn't require that kind of hand-wringing.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 16:22:47

It's only going to be stereotyping if the negative character trait is one commonly associated with the minority ethnic group in question, though. So, fair enough, don't cast a clearly Jewish actor as a stingy character, don't cast someone Asian as a pushy parent trying to instil a strict work ethic into his/her children, etc., etc. But assuming you've written interesting and well-rounded characters, rather than cardboard cutouts who only have one or two character traits each, there's absolutely no reason you can't cast a BME (or even (gasp!) female) actor in a part that doesn't reinforce Daily Mail stereotypes. If you don't think you can do it then it may be a sign that your characters are insufficiently well-written.

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 16:22:58

I can see that is one of the reasons but it's really not the only one. There is this perception that casting someone who happens to have black skin in an 'ordinary', interesting role somehow imbues that role/character with particular, racially-related significance - and that 'most viewers' will find this at best something they cannot identify with, at worst off-putting.

lljkk Fri 27-Sep-13 16:25:21

Production is a riskycommercial venture. They have to reduce risks where they can. BBC is public-owned so they can't be commissioning programmes which are too controversial.

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 16:28:18

(Although personally what I would like to see is more Aunties on telly. Scary Indian Aunties. The sort who pinch your cheek and tell you how fat/thin/pale/well you are looking. They might be stereotypical but god they are familiar.)

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 16:28:22

But it is very easy to employ those arguments about what people will accept (never having focus-grouped or asked them) in order to defend your own conservative mindset or avoid having to make a bit of effort.

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 16:29:44

Having a few black/Asian/gay characters scattered around the place is hardly controversial! More realistic, frankly, of my kids' experience than some sort of all-white straight ghetto.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 16:38:20

Klink, the BBC showed Jerry Springer The Opera . Do you really feel that casting a few more women or know-how actors

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 16:39:56

(WTF autocorrect? non-white actors) would be a step too far into controversy?

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 16:40:48

(and lljkk, not Klink. Klink isn't even a word)

lljkk Fri 27-Sep-13 16:42:27

Sadly, MN is not like real life.
In real life, many people are extremely small-minded & find that comforting. They look for any opportunity to reinforce their existing prejudices. And producers of mass-consumption media have to work around that. If anything I'm pretty sure most screen-writers have quite strong left-wing progressive biases.

stringornothing Fri 27-Sep-13 17:01:44

There has been a black soap since Desmond's. I only know because it was filmed in a friend's house in South London about 15 years ago. I don't remember the name, and neither will you, because despite a fabulous cast, it was shit.

The Chiwetel Ejiofor thing about pensions was The Shadow Line, not to be confused with The Line of Duty with Lennie James - I got them hopelessly mixed up, and had to resort to Wikipedia.

The thing about "we want a black character, but we can't give them characteristics a/b/c because that would be sterotypical" came out interestingly in the Percy Jackson films. The books are pretty crap for multi-cultural casting, so the filmmakers decided to cast the sidekick, who is only ever described as having curly brown hair (and goats' legs; he's a satyr), as an African American, which was a good idea, except that his major characteristic in the first book is cowardice, which carries a lot of historic stereotypical baggage in the US, so they had to ditch that, and the relatively nuanced personality that went with it, in favour of an off-the-peg Happy Shopper Eddie Murphy characterisation - streetwise and womanising. I could see why they'd made the choices they made, but it wasn't an ideal outcome. Interestingly, Riordan clearly realised he could have done better, and his next book series visibly tries to make amends.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 17:11:12

despite a fabulous cast, it was shit

It was.

stringornothing Fri 27-Sep-13 17:14:34

But what was it eldritch? I can't remember and I can't google "shit black sitcom shot at my mates house"

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 17:17:45

I can't remember the name either. I can see the lead actor now, but don't know his name.

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 17:18:40

Hang on, this it?

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 17:21:00

I googled 'black sitcom south London' (this is the kind of incisive skill you need if you're a journalist, you see) and think - though this is via a Daily Vile link - that it could have been 'The Crouches'?

stringornothing Fri 27-Sep-13 17:21:10

That's the one eldritch! Thanks. Great cast, but pants script.

TabithaCampbellBlack Fri 27-Sep-13 17:21:23

Was it The Crouches? Had the guy that plays Patrick in EastEnders in it.

motherinferior Fri 27-Sep-13 17:21:32
EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 17:21:42

Great minds!

TabithaCampbellBlack Fri 27-Sep-13 17:22:35

Oh - Xpost!

EldritchCleavage Fri 27-Sep-13 17:24:03

Rudolph Walker was in this: classic example of bad attempt to do black drama. Worthy, over-emotional, fixated on talking about racism to the detriment of characterisation, plot or entertainment.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 17:24:55

The Crouches doesn't even feature in this overview of black representation in British sitcoms so must have been quite epically shit...

MrsOakenshield Fri 27-Sep-13 17:25:12

the real Desmond's is no more sad, closed a couple of years back. I was very excited the first time I walked past it (it's down the road from us).

I don't watch much TV these days, just mainly sf/fantasy box sets so can't really comment too much, but one thing I have found utterly ludicrous for years now is how few Asian (and black, but Asian really) characters there are in EastEnders. It seems to be stuck in some kind of Ealing comedy version of the East End, which hasn't existed for at least 20 years. It might be an accurate representation of Dagenham or Romford, but the East End?

I don't think you can compare the UK and US either - the US has had a sizeable black population for far far longer than the UK - I would guess that we are a long way from having a black prime minister, for example.

Iloverusks Fri 27-Sep-13 17:37:34

Some great comments and good to read. Thank you all.

Someone made a really good point of the need to feel included. So not really important to have an all black show, but to feel that there are more than one black family to 10 white ones (eastenders, coronations st etc) and to not have every tv show where 90% are white and 10% are a minority- but then I guess that is just what represents the UK?

Recently we had Top boy which was predominantly black cast and a very (sad) but true storyline, but its a shame its only then black people are featured so much. I agree that the Asian community/other ethnic groups are the same.

As a 30yr old black female professional mummy, there are little characters that I can ever relate to on TV.

geekgal Fri 27-Sep-13 19:24:05

I think (following on from a poster above) that tv could be more representative as a whole by being more accurate - so for a drama set in a north of England ex-mining town it would probably be mostly white, but for one set in London like Eastenders there should probably be a lot more ethnic minority groups. That's not artificially editing, that's representing the country as it is. Which is a lot more diverse than tv is showing us at the moment! And also in things like fantasy and sci fi why does it have to match the population as it stands now anyway? It's made up, you can have anybody, so why not try to make things a little more diverse? It's the future, after all...

Iloverusks Fri 27-Sep-13 20:45:26

Really good points Greek gal, you are soooo right!

Eastenders actually annoys me the most. Being an East Londoner myself I feel that white English people are the minority!!! And don't get me started on Tanya's "mixed race" sister . .

I don't watch it anymore as it makes me angry

Iloverusks Fri 27-Sep-13 20:45:54

I think I need to become a writer

thesixteenthtry Fri 27-Sep-13 20:57:40

Maybe only 10% of actors are black, reflecting the proportion of the general population.
Outside big cities, multiculturalism is not the reality.

PatPig Fri 27-Sep-13 21:11:02

No, 10% of the country is NOT black. It's around 2%.

MistressDeeCee Fri 27-Sep-13 21:22:55

Im glad there arent more. Black characters on tv are either totally cringeworthy, or too 'street' (same thing I suppose) the producers here mostly dont have a clue about authentic. In the UK I wouldnt expect more black characters on tv anyway.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 21:27:46

But 14% of England and Wales is non-white, according to the 2011 census.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 21:29:41

(Mixed 2.2%, Asian 7.5%, Black 3.3% and Other 1.0%, FWIW)

Garcia10 Fri 27-Sep-13 21:34:03

This information from Wikipedia shows the ethnic diversity of the UK:


Only 2% black so I think that black people are well represented on UK TV in relation to the population.

Garcia10 Fri 27-Sep-13 21:35:13

Just realised that is 2001 data but unlikely to have changed significantly.

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 21:45:29

Tower Hamlets (which is where Walford is if you look at the tube map) is 41.2% Asian (most of those Bangladeshi), 31.2% White, 7.3% Black, 4.1% Mixed, 2.3% Other (as of 2011).

AveryJessup Fri 27-Sep-13 21:47:36

Google tells me that the black population of the UK is 3.3%. The black population in the US is about 12% so having an all-black TV show, like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air or the Cosby Show makes more sense there as that is more representative of parts of the US, especially big East Coast cities (although Fresh Prince was West Coast, ironically!). There are not many areas of the UK with a large black community apart from London and Birmingham.

An all-Muslim TV show would actually be more representative of the UK's multicultural make-up, to be honest! Muslims are 4.8% of the population and more evenly spread throughout the country e.g. Glasgow, Manchester etc.

MrsOakenshield Fri 27-Sep-13 21:55:36

it's pockets, though, isn't it - where I live is 85% black, 5% white (not sure if this is white British only), 10% 'other'. So I am always astonished to read that the overall black population of Britain is only 2%!

Garcia10 Fri 27-Sep-13 21:57:30


There is a Muslim sitcom. Can't comment whether it is representative or even amusing as I haven't watched it.

FlobberWobber Fri 27-Sep-13 21:59:37

Why when people talk about racism & multiculturalism do they so often mean black people or Muslims? I rarely see Chinese families represented on TV, likewise I rarely hear anyone being vocal about the racial abuse of Chinese people in this country, I'm just wondering why.

kim147 Fri 27-Sep-13 22:24:03

There's not many trans people in "normal roles" on TV shows. Sometimes found as victims in crime shows. Or on Big Brother. But rare to see a trans person (who is obviously trans) just doing a normal role on TV.

Garcia10 Fri 27-Sep-13 22:29:46

FlobberWobber - I have to confess that I haven't considered the Chinese population. From my experience they are welcomed in the UK and I was unaware that there is a significant amount of abuse.

I agree that they are not significantly represented on TV but as they make up only 0.5% of the population perhaps this is why?

Garcia10 Fri 27-Sep-13 22:32:17

Sorry - I missed a sentence. I was really unaware that the Chinese population suffer racial abuse. I am in the NW where there is a reasonably large Chinese population and I have never heard abuse against Chinese people.

FlobberWobber Fri 27-Sep-13 22:35:23

I thought it was much more than that, there must be a larger than average Chinese population where I live.
I think there is a lot of racism aimed at Chinese, all over the UK, from mimicking accents/eyes to using the word 'chinky'. It's somehow seen as less racist than calling a black person certain offensive words. I just wonder why?

Pachacuti Fri 27-Sep-13 22:35:59

While we're at it, 1 in 30 people in the UK use hearing aids and about the same number have significant visual impairment. Around 1 in 50 are wheelchair users. I don't think we see them in anything like those proportions outside children's programming.

southeastastra Fri 27-Sep-13 22:38:15

maybe people from ethic groups unrepresented on telly should be given grants to produce their own dramas/comedys etc

it is a well know fact that british TV is run by cambridge graduates

footlights should be banned imo for producing such a banal look at british culture

SilverApples Fri 27-Sep-13 22:40:12

Does anyone remember this short series on C4? It was ten years ago, 5 minute slots.

FlobberWobber Fri 27-Sep-13 22:45:38

Perhaps these shows use actors who resemble their viewers, maybe there aren't a large number of Chinese or Muslims who watch Corrie?

Garcia10 Fri 27-Sep-13 22:45:54

Where are you based FB? As I said we are in the NW and the Chinese people I know appear to be welcomed. Although it is a generalisation the children work hard and get on well their peers. I haven't heard 'chinky' used as an insult since the 1980s. I admit when I was growing up there was racial abuse but I can't say I have been aware of it recently.

GhettoFabulouz Fri 27-Sep-13 22:47:36

In response to OP. I have been asking this for years. Loved Desmond's, Brothers and Sisters, The Real McCoy etc. Where have all these shows gone? I don't have a problem with watching British TV programmes, as long as I like the show doesn't matter what race, but I do like to also watch shows as a representative of myself/culture. I can say the same for black presenters - is Alesha Dixon/Reggie Yates the only talent out there?? For what is lacking on British TV, I watch the BET channel on Sky and catch Oprah on TLC. I will watch The View over Loose Woman any day- a more representative and interesting panel I find and plus I love Whoopi.

soontobeburns Fri 27-Sep-13 23:05:55

Argh I hate this positive discrimination. It should be about the best person for the job.

Thats goes for everything be it females, religion, race etc and any job.

I know plenty of capable people who havent got jobs because of their religion. In NI a lot of places need 50/50 protestants and Catholics especially police and im sick of this discrimination.

Best person for the job!

geekgal Fri 27-Sep-13 23:31:53

It's not so much about the best person for the job though, is it? The job has been created in a discriminatory way, that's the problem - it's not the actors, it's the writers/producers/directors who only make roles for white, middle class, Oxbridge-type men. Maybe they need to look outside the box a little bit...

soontobeburns Fri 27-Sep-13 23:36:40

True but black, asian, chinese etc doesnt have to mean foreign for example. Any role can be played by someone able. Its stereotypical to cast them otherwise.

AmberLeaf Fri 27-Sep-13 23:38:42

I just get fed up with the stereo types.

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 27-Sep-13 23:53:03

Yes I am white and live I a predominantly white village. I see more black people on TV than I do in my day to day life. I never see any Polish or Eastern European people on TV though, they must surely be underrepresented.

Twofour6eighttwo Sat 28-Sep-13 00:32:19

In addition to a lack of BME actors on tv I have recently been confronted, but sadly not shocked, by the lack of representation in magazine media. I teach PSHE to Year 5 & 6 classes in a predominantly white urban area of Britain and hoped to broaden the children's horizons and draw attention to stereotyping through a lesson using images taken from magazines. Despite spending an evening trawling through a varied (IMO) range of mags kept casually in my home (Closer, Obs Weekly, Heat, Radio Times, Weight Watchers Mag, various supermarket mags, National Trust mag etc) I found 3 out of over 40 I ages to be BME and two of these were well known celebraties rather than general models. I cancelled my planned lesson as I was too embarrassed/ashamed to pass off a lesson to which I was not fully committed. Where was I to find a range of images which represent the society I feel I live in?

selsigfach Sat 28-Sep-13 01:12:25

I live in the countryside and don't know any black people - the only black faces I see are on TV where they seem over-represented to me. The only non-white people I see in real life are in the curry house.
Don't assume that the whole of the UK is like London!

Iloverusks Sat 28-Sep-13 01:57:42

Selsifach - I find that shocking but I guess its not unusual as this is a white country.

There are lots of programmes made based in the country that rightly have a predominant white cast but we know all cities are not like this.

I blame the writers/producers/directors who are afraid to cast a normal family, couple, children etc who just happen to be black/Asian/Chinese etc

garlicbaguette Sat 28-Sep-13 02:10:01

YANBU in general. Has anybody linked this yet?

garlicbaguette Sat 28-Sep-13 02:20:41

Given that so much of the TV we see is American, it's even more ridiculous. There are now more Americans with Spanish as a first language than English, yet the shows are still pretty much all standard white, with the odd black, gay or Hispanic character thrown in. There was a controversy over the film "Girls", set in Brooklyn (32% black, 10% Asian, 20% Hispanic,) which was supposed to be realistic but everyone was white Jewish!

Catching up on East Enders, I thought it was nice that there were so many mixed couples (I was watching Wednesday's lurve episode.) I only recall one Eastern European in Stenders, though, and only in two episodes. Coronation Street's worse - it's supposed to be Manchester, and all the diversity we have is Dev & Lloyd!

Lweji Sat 28-Sep-13 04:14:02

Eastenders actually annoys me the most. Being an East Londoner myself I feel that white English people are the minority!!!

Yes, but non-whites probably live less interesting more normal lives than the characters.

Maybe Eastenders should be renamed White Eastenders. smile

Or maybe Albert Square is the last stronghold of white English in the East End.

FridaKarlov Sat 28-Sep-13 09:32:28

I agree with the op, TV is ridiculously white and male. I really wish there was more variety in the kind of people we see on TV.

bigkidsdidit Sat 28-Sep-13 09:48:35

I would have thought in terms of sheer numbers black people are over represented on telly compared to % of population, but I take your point OP that it'd be nice to see more in just normal roles in soaps where colour isn't a feature or a storyline.

I believe women and in particular women over 40 are the most under represented group on telly. How many older women are there? Can you imagine a doddery 84 yo woman being allowed to present strictly?

Sorry for the whataboutery OP but I'm so fed up of comedy panel shows with one token female and six (white) men.

GangstersLoveToDance Sat 28-Sep-13 10:08:21

Is it really do shocking that there are not as many black actors as white? If only 2% of the population are black...and only x% of those black people are actors/actresses...there is never going to be an 'even' representation of white/black on tv.

Statistics define that there must be a larger percentage of good white actors than good black actors, because there is a much, much larger pool of white people to draw from. It's no mystery really.

Add to that, any historical dramas set in the UK would need to eliminate non-white actors pretty much completely if there is to be any sort of historical accuracy.

The only exception I can see is EastEnders, where I can see that black actors are woefully under represented for the area. However, the population of black people in London, Bristol, Birmingham is so high that most of the rest of the UK has a percentage of black much lower than 2%...any shows set outside of these areas would not need a large black cast to be representative.

lljkk Sat 28-Sep-13 10:33:51

Sorry but that's simply not true about more Americans have Spanish as 1st language than English. 20% of Americans speak a non-English language at home: which could be Korean, French, Vietnamese, Lao, Quechua, Farsi, etc. Not all Spanish-speakers by any means.

stringornothing Sat 28-Sep-13 11:14:37

I think scripted drama isn't bad for Afro-Caribbean black representation, because TPTB have been trained to think "ethnic diversity - must tick box" but haven't got past the idea that "ethnic" = Windrush descendant, so it's been rubbish for people of South Asian descent, and hasn't begun to get a grip on the idea of representing people from Eastern Europe. It's similar to the US TV underrepresentation of East Asians.

This is where reality TV and quiz shows sometimes show up the lack of imagination of scripted telly. You see trans people, blind people, white/Chinese mixed race gay couples, just getting on with their life, answering quiz questions, answering 999 calls, having their houses made over, and not fitting into any of the Central Casting boxes.

Pachacuti Sat 28-Sep-13 11:59:16

According to the latest detailed figures behind the report lljkk linked to, only 34,183,747 US residents over the age of 5 (about 12% of the population) speak Spanish at home (N.B. they would have been counted in this figure even if they spoke both Spanish and English at home). 16,120,772 of those Spanish speakers (so slightly under half) don't also speak good English.

HollaAtMeBaby Sat 28-Sep-13 15:28:22

They should just keep repeating Desmond's. Nothing can top that grin

SoleSource Sat 28-Sep-13 17:44:29

I think it would be good if there was a regular soap with mainly Asian actors. Used to love The Crouches smile

microserf Sat 28-Sep-13 17:58:45

i definitely think there could be much more inclusive use of actors from all ethnicities on the tv. it does feel quite monocultural sometimes. we are Londoners, and I'm not seeing the full diversity of London on screen!

also, older women - angry angry i am furious about how women over 45 get dumped off the tv! older men = character/experience, older women = over the hill. dh knows not to mention this as it triggers The Rage and it takes a good glass of pinot grigio to calm down... blush

Lweji Sat 28-Sep-13 18:01:17

Eastenders is also not a good representation of the East End because there's hardly anyone commuting. And if there are, they are likely to lose their jobs within 6 months or less.

Bue Sat 28-Sep-13 18:04:51

There are now more Americans with Spanish as a first language than English

This is the most bizarre inaccuracy that I have seen on Mumsnet in a long time!

FlobberWobber Sat 28-Sep-13 19:17:44

If only 2% of the UK population is black, then I would say black people are overrepresented on TV and other ethnic minorities underrepresented.

FlobberWobber Sat 28-Sep-13 19:19:52

I wouldn't say Eastenders is a particularly good representation of life in general! I imagine the main bulk of their viewers are white though, which is why they have so many white people in it. Could be wrong.

FlobberWobber Sat 28-Sep-13 19:21:34

I think it's shocking how older women are dumped from TV once they reach 45. So many older men presenting with young women, it's outrageous, would never happen the other way round.

EldritchCleavage Sun 29-Sep-13 00:49:55

*I live in the countryside and don't know any black people - the only black faces I see are on TV where they seem over-represented to me. The only non-white people I see in real life are in the curry house.
Don't assume that the whole of the UK is like London!*

We aren't. I spend a lot of time in such mono-cultural hotspots as East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. I grew up in the countryside. That's why I said upthread I think how BME people are portrayed and used in media is more important than the absolute numbers.

*Is it really do shocking that there are not as many black actors as white? If only 2% of the population are black...and only x% of those black people are actors/actresses...there is never going to be an 'even' representation of white/black on tv.

Statistics define that there must be a larger percentage of good white actors than good black actors, because there is a much, much larger pool of white people to draw from. It's no mystery really.*

Oh come on, no one here is suggesting there should be parity of numbers for black and white actors, nor that the number of good black actors is the same as that of good white actors. Just that BME people, disabled and trans people and older women are much much less visible than they should be. And that even actors from those groups of very obvious talent (e.g. because they find work abroad) are saying they get offered very few roles, and often only very stereotyped roles, in the UK.

Mimishimi Sun 29-Sep-13 01:04:46


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