Too many ethnic faces on TV: Sir Kennedy

  • Vijay Dutt, PTI, London
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  • Updated: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST

One of BBC's most distinguished former broadcasters, Sir Ludovic Kennedy, 83, has set the cat among pigeons with his comment that television in general has had more than its fair share of ethnic minority participants compared to their actual proportion in the UK population.

His comments indicate that he is against what may be called positive discrimination, putting in characters in serials from ethnic minority to show political correctness.  

Sir Ludovic wrote in a book review in the Oldie magazine: "I am all in favour of black advancement but there is now hardly a TV pub, police station, soap, vox pop or ad without rather more than its fair share of black population.

"The statistical office tells me that the proportion of all ethnic groups (blacks, Indians, Pakistanis and Asians) to whites in this country is no more than 7.5 per cent.

"Political correctness has got completely out of hand and now requires that the imbalance be readjusted."

But both BBC and ITV dismissed his comments as unacceptable and his analysis inaccurate. A BBC spokesman said: "The BBC has a duty to serve all of its audiences and ethnic minorities make-up nine per cent of the UK population. Some of our programmes - East Enders, Holby City and Casualty - do have more than this representation."

He explainedL: "This is because these dramas are set in urban areas where people from ethnic minority backgrounds make up as much as 30 per cent of the population." He denied that there was any stress on political correctness.

Sources revealed that BBC has set a target that 10 per cent of its workforce should be from ethnic minorities by the end of the year.  ITV spokesperson also said that it took seriously its duty to reflect all aspects of the country's diverse society.

Kaislah Badhwar, former head of the BBC Hindi World Service, told Hindustan Times: "In a society where you know there are weaker sections which need to be helped to bring them up to the same level as everybody else, a helping hand would always be required.

"Particularly in a homogenous society which has remained single-faceted for centuries. In today's world of multi-culturism these adjustments if required are imperative."

Actors union Equity said that if it was true that blacks and Asians were over-represented, then it must be taken as a tribute to their talent.       

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