Myth of a multiculturalEngland in BBC’s
Nicole M. Jackson
In his January 2016 speech to Parliament, actor Idris Elba asserted
that the ‘British Empire gave birth to the multicultural miracle that is
modern Britain’, while noting that the diversity of contemporary Britain
is absent from the popular media. Elba discussed the limited roles available to Black actors in the UK, asserting that since ‘I never saw myself
or my culture on TV, I stopped watching TV. I decided to just go out
and become TV.’ To gain roles ‘I had to transform the way [the] industry
Adjusting the contrast National and cultural identity, ethnicity and difference have always been major themes within the national psyche. People are witnessing the rise and visibility of far-right politics and counter-movements in the UK and USA. Simultaneously, there is an urgent need to defend the role of public service media. This book emerges at a time when these shifts and conjunctures that impact on and shape how 'race' and racial difference are perceived. They are coinciding with rapidly changing media contexts and environments and the kinds of racial representations that are constructed within public service broadcasting (PSB), specifically the BBC and Channel 4. The book explores a range of texts and practices that address the ongoing phenomenon of race and its relationship to television. Policies and the management of race; transnationalism and racial diversity; historical questions of representation; the myth of a multicultural England are also explored. It interrogates three television primarily created by women, written by women, feature women in most of the lead roles, and forcefully reassert the place of women in British history. The book contributes to the range of debates around television drama and black representation, examining BBC's Shoot the Messenger and Top Boy. Finally, it explores some of the history that led to the belated breakthrough of Black and Asian British comedy. The book also looks at the production of jokes about race and colour prior to the 1980s and 1990s, and questioning what these jokes tell us about British multiculturalism in this period.
sustains and nourishes the boundaries of contemporary whiteness and
colonial consciousness, and the full place of race in multicultural and
ostensibly postcolonial Britain.
The myth of a multiculturalEngland in BBC’s Luther (BBC, 2010–15)
is the focus of Nicole Jackson’s chapter. In the run-up to BBC America’s
broadcast of the second season of Neil Cross’s famed drama, the
American press cast the titular character, John Luther, played by Idris
Elba, within a long line of quirky, dark detectives who also seemed to
be fading from US television screens. For Jackson, Luther
times more likely to define themselves as ‘English’ compared to those who identify as Black and minority ethnic (BME), who are more likely to define themselves as ‘British’.
Likewise, research indicates that four out of five of those who identify as ‘English not British’ voted for Brexit.
‘Multicultural Britain’ is a phrase that resonates; less so ‘multiculturalEngland’.
This taints England and Englishness as a political
BBC America and transnational constructs of Britishness
Darrell M. Newton
ethnic demographics were considered. However, he noted that Brown
and Black viewers were not considered ‘with any level of importance
due to the limited exposure of BBCA to American homes’. At that
time, he noted that 57 million homes were watching the channel, and
‘seeing to a much younger audience, was essential’. Hilary noted that
the effort to provide programming that reflected modern multiculturalEngland ‘was like a two-edged sword. [It] was very political organization’. He noted Director General Dyke’s ‘strong support’ for his
efforts in America, but with
of a multiculturalEngland that supersedes the trappings of race:
Salmon has a relationship with Mirren’s Tennison. Well, you know, this
appearance takes it for granted that we live in a multicultural society. The
focus is not on race. Race is taken as a kind of lived part of the reality of an
increasingly multicultural society. When you come to very serious drama – I
mean, ‘one-off ’ plays – which are not part of an established television genre, or
not part of a series, [it] gives a particular figure little time to develop a
dramatic situation. There you very