This week two Black British females come back to Blighty for plum jobs, RTS grasps the diversity nettle, and another week another BBC employee disciplined (but not the one we want).
We hear so much about Black British actors moving to America to further their careers, but it seems that after increasing their profile over there, some of them are coming back.
Marianne Jean-Baptiste is coming home.
The first ‘returnee’ to Blighty is Marianne Jean-Baptiste as news breaks that the Golden Globe winner and Oscar-nominated actor is joining the second series of hit ITV drama Broadchurch.
Jean-Baptiste, who starred in CBS television series Without a Trace, Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence and this year’s remake of the film RoboCop, is to play a role written especially for her by Broadchurch writer and creator Chris Chibnall.
Chibnall said: “We’re over the moon to have wooed Marianne back from Los Angeles to join us in Broadchurch. “Marianne is one of Britain’s finest actresses, so it’s an honour and a coup for us. It’s a role written specifically for her and I would’ve wept for months if she’d turned us down. Luckily she didn’t and her character is going to make an indelible impact on the world of Broadchurch.”
June Sarpong gets political.
When we brought you the story of Paxman leaving Newsnight we also suggested that the programme makers should seize this opportunity to add some diversity to their line-up. Well maybe they were listening because last week news broke that former T4 presenter June Sarpong was one of their new hirings. The 36-year-old has moved back to Britain from America ahead of the role
“I’m not replacing Jeremy Paxman before the rumours start”, said Sarpong. I’m doing specials for them.” I got back to London six weeks ago. I’ve gone from Sunday morning television to Newsnight, but you know we’ve all got to grow up, it’s all highbrow now.”
There have been accusations that the show is dumbing down, but June is not a complete novice to politics. She once dated the Labour MP David Lammy and has experience in current affairs, in 2005 shadowing Tony Blair for two days ahead of a T4 special interview in which she challenged him on the war in Iraq.
All at the TVC wish her the best of luck in her new role.
Senior BBC journalists disciplined for displaying political bias.
We know that BBC employees are meant not to show any political allegiance, and the corporation showed that they’re not joking when they disciplined a senior journalist for sharing her opinions on UKip on social media. Jasmine Lawrence was accused of showing bias and prejudice just hours before the local elections by posting a message on Twitter.
Mrs Lawrence had been due to help lead BBC News coverage of last weeks’s local and European elections, but the corporation said she had been removed from that role as it launched an internal investigation.
The 43-year-old wrote the tweet after Ukip encouraged its supporters to share reasons why they were voting for the party, with the hashtag #WhyImVotingUkip. Mrs Lawrence, who is an editor on the rolling news channel and was duty editor for the 2010 general election, posted: ‘#WhyImVotingUkip – to stand up for white, middle class, middle aged men w sexist/racist views, totally under-represented in politics today.’
Ukip leader Nigel Farage told the Daily Mail: ‘For this senior figure in the BBC to show such prejudice when she works for the public service broadcaster is astonishing. If the BBC are serious about challenging bias she should be fired immediately.’
The hashtag #whyimvotingukip started trending last week after the party posted on Twitter: ‘Why are you voting UKIP this year? Tell us, tell Twitter and let’s get it trending! But it was quickly ambushed by opponents of the party who posted sarcastic messages about the party and Mr Farage with the hashtag.
Joke responses including: ‘#WhyImVotingUkip: because, like the leader @Nigel_Farage, I get a bit racist when I’m tired too.’ Another user posted: ‘#WhyImVotingUkip because voting far right and blaming minorities after an economic downturn worked so well before, let’s try that again.’
Ms. Lawrence has since deactivated her Twitter account.
Meanwhile the Beebs ‘Bigot in chief’ is looking at another big pay day.
According to the Sunday People Jeremy Clarkson, is in the final stages of negotiations for another mega-bucks three-year contract. After his most recent ‘n-word’ debacle there were several calls for him to be sacked, but he was saved by Director General Tony Hall.
Despite the scandal, Clarkson is in final talks for a deal that will see him paid a £1million fee per year, as well as a sum of around £3million annually from BBC Worldwide for Top Gear merchandise that is sold across the globe. Clarkson’s current deal runs out next April but apparently bosses are keen to get everything signed within the next few weeks. Probably becuase his BBC2 show is one of their biggest hits, regularly pulling in six million viewers and rising to 11 million when repeats and iPlayer numbers are added.
A BBC source said: “There is no question of Jeremy’s deal not being renewed. It is being worked on right now. The top executives want him signed up as soon as possible. We are all very excited that Top Gear as we know it will be with us for three more years from 2015.” The source added: “Jeremy is loved by Top Gear viewers, not just in Britain but across the world. “There is absolutely no way that there are any plans for the show to go on without him so the BBC got in early to make sure he stays.”
So much for him ‘drinking in the last chance saloon’.
The RTS ask To Quota or Not Quota?
Race, racism, ethnicity and the media has rarely been in the spotlight as it is right now, and central to all this is how many people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Backgrounds (BAME) are currently in front and behind the camera. To Quota or Not Quota? is a question that we at the TVC have been asking all year, and now the Royal television Society are asking the same. Next week they will be holding a event the debate the topics ‘How to increase the number of BAME people in Television?’, ‘Is it time for a more radical solution and embrace the idea of quotas?’ and ‘Practical steps for making your production more diverse’
Not scared to discuss “the radical” and how to achieve real change in the ethnic make-up of TV’s workforce are: Simon Albury, Chair at Campaign for Broadcasting Equality, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Presenter Channel 4 News and Trevor Phillips OBE, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and chair Stuart Cosgrove, Director of Creative Diversity at Channel 4.
Guest panellists will point producers towards the best tools to help turn their good intentions into reality and bring more people from BAME backgrounds into the film and TV industries. From online databases to specialist organisations, the panel will flag up the best resources currently available as well as highlighting some case studies around successfully building diverse teams/productions. The panel will also look at any developments and initiatives that have been put in place since November.
The event takes place on June 3rd at The Studio Theatre at RADA Studios, 16 Chenies Street , London, WC1E 7EX. Go to the RTS website for booking details
That’s all for this week, but if you just can’t hang on for another seven days to get your next fix of TV industry news, check our facebook page for daily updates.