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UK Broadcasters Respond To Claims Of Black Actors Leaving For Opportunities In The USA

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 23, 2011 at 8:25AM

4 responses to last week's post about the so-called UK talent drain, as black British actors flee to the USA in search of believed to be better opportunities to work... if you missed the discussion click HERE & HERE to catch up...
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4 responses to last week's post about the so-called UK talent drain, as black British actors flee to the USA in search of believed to be better opportunities to work... if you missed the discussion click HERE & HERE to catch up...

First, the BBC has "rejected criticism that UK television does not provide enough parts for black actors, claiming that the Corporation “leads the way” in diverse casting," siting primetime drama series with starring roles for Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Second, unlike the BBC, UK's Channel 4 admits that “casting is always an area where we could do better,” and further that they are "aware of black actors looking for work in the US;“ although, while the USA might present "wider opportunities,” they believe there's also “more competition.” “An area where I think we can really make progress is by casting against type and taking more risks with talent. It’s an area where agents, producers and broadcasters can do more,” a rep for Channel 4 said.

Third, satellite broadcaster Sky also seems more sympathetic to the issue, saying the company “wholeheartedly believes its programmes should reflect modern Britain and the rich diversity of our society," stating, “We are absolutely committed to ensuring directors and casting directors give us diverse casts that go beyond token casting, but while we are making good progress in our original drama we still have a long way to go... The result creatively will be a much more interesting, rich, exciting and authentic experience.

And lastly, ITV said it is committed to “ensuring the programmes we broadcast across our schedule reflect the UK’s diversity," and that “We regularly monitor our content in terms of diversity portrayal. The results are shared with programme makers and commissioners in order to not only build on our success in this important area to date, but also to address areas that do not reflect our aim."

So, what're the folks at the BBC smoking? It seems like most agree that there is a lack of diversity problem that needs to be addressed. But I suppose being top dog has its privileges. I recall an interview in which a British actor (I believe it was Idris) who said that, for a British actor, working on a BBC show was the ultimate, and essentially as high as any actor could really go.

[The Stage]

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