Lenny leads the charge for greater diversity

lenny on radio 4

Lenny with media show presenter Steve Hewlett

Obviously the biggest story in the TV world over the past week has been Lenny Henry’s speech to Bafta last Monday.  In front of an invited crowd of TV industry VIPs and Bafta members he unveiled his plan (already outlined in detail on the TV Collective website) to promote more diversity in the television industry.  The speech got wide coverage in the print media as well as on Radio 4’s Media Show, and BBc local radio.  Incase you were on holiday last week you can see a selection of the reports on the TVC’s facebook page, watch  a video of the whole speech on our Website,  and listen again to the Radio 4 interview here.

The strange thing about this issue, is that no seems to disagree.  Everyone in the media and in politics agrees that the make-up of the TV industry is not ethnically representative of the UK’s population (especially London’s).  Various TV companies have signed up to previous initiatives, but still the workforce remains stubbornly ‘male, stale and pale’. Where Lenny’s plan aims to make a difference is by giving these old demands some ‘teeth’, suggesting that money is ring-fenced and penalties are put in place to punish those companies who don’t meet their targets.  Let’s hope that this time around, Lenny’s meeting with the BBC’s Director General and the lobbying of MPs will make our dreams of diversity a reality.

 

Not everybody loves diversity

Did I just say that no-one disagrees with the stated aim of increasing diversity?  Well that’s not strictly true. If you scroll down to the comments section of a number of the news articles on the subject, there are some criticising Lenny for ‘playing the race card’ or gripeing for more hand-outs.

And when BBC’s Newsnight dared to invite two non-male, non-white scientists onto the show to give their comments on a science news story, The Daily Mail was outraged.  (When are they NOT outraged?)

Dr Hiranya Peiris and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Jeremy Paxman interviews Dr Hiranya Peiris and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

The  piece in the Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle column on Wednesday used their appearance on BBC’s Newsnight on Monday to comment  “So, two women were invited to comment on the report about (white, male) American scientists who’ve detected the origins of the universe – giggling Sky at Night presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Sri Lanka-born astronomer Hiranya Peiris.”

David Price, the  vice-provost of Peiris’ college responded saying, “The implication that anything outside of her academic record qualifies Dr Peiris to discuss the results of the Bicep2 study is profoundly insulting. She is a world expert on the study of the cosmic microwave background, with degrees from Cambridge and Princeton. Dr Aderin-Pocock is a highly-qualified scientist and engineer with an exceptional talent for communicating complex scientific concepts in an accessible way.”

Price also noted that  the study in question was conducted by a diverse group of researchers from around the world, not just white Americans: “It is deeply disappointing that you thought it acceptable to print an article drawing attention to the gender and race of scientific experts, suggesting that non-white, non-male scientists are somehow incapable of speaking on the basis of their qualifications and expertise.”

If you’d like to read more about the battles that female pundits face to get on TV, you could do worse than read this article from US website Salon

Not everybody loves diversity (part 2)

Perhaps the editors at the Daily Mail would have felt more at home in America last week, where a ‘White Man March’ took place, arguing that diversity equals genocide for the white race.  If you didn’t think that people still held such views in 2014 then check the video below.

 

Lupita and Adichie to join forces?

Star of 12 years A Slave Lupita Nyongo was a breakthrough star of 2013, who scored awards success in 2014, and is striving not become another flash-in-the-pan.  After a small supporting role in the Liam Neeson action flick Non Stop,  forthcoming roles are lining up. Shortly before the Academy Awards, Nyong’o met with director J.J. Abrams for talks concerning the female lead role in his upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. Though there’s no confirmation of what role, if any, she’s being considered for, rumours suggest it could be a non-Caucasian descendent of Obi-Wan Kenobi (not sure how that will work?) But Star Wars isn’t the only upcoming project rumoured to be in Nyong’o’s sights. Speaking with Arise Entertainment 360, author and Beyoncé-sampled feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie coyly hinted at a big-screen adaptation of her acclaimed 2013 novel Americanah, starring none other than Nyong’o.

 

And finally for Funniest thing I’ve seen this week.

Although R&B singer Brandy’s little brother Ray J had a brief musical career,  he is more well known for his bedroom antics, former celebrity lovers including Whitney Houston and Kim Kardashian.  Infact it was a leaked sex tape that Ray J made with Kim K, that helped turned her from a rap-video vixen into a household name. Now veteran chat show host and comedian Joan Rivers is hoping that Ray J’s sex game can help re-launch her TV career. Watch their promo here.

That’s all for this week, but if you just can’t hang on for seven days to get your next fix of TV  industry news, check our facebook page for daily updates.

 

Lee Pinkerton