7 Myth of a multicultural England in BBC’s Luther 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.
his fiction to probe issues relating to diversity in the UK. He connects with his audience firsthand and while many of the trademark features of YA are present – teen problems, the coming-of-age trope and romance – he tackles these issues with a gritty realism that portrays multicultural England with accuracy and sensitivity. Due to the affinity many young readers have with digital texts and media, my analysis of contemporary YA literature necessitates looking beyond the printed word. Much in the way that the digital #rebelnotts campaign
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 multicultural England 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’. 21 Likewise, research indicates that four out of five of those who identify as ‘English not British’ voted for Brexit. 22 ‘Multicultural Britain’ is a phrase that resonates; less so ‘multicultural England’. This taints England and Englishness as a political
’s notions of a multicultural England 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
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 multicultural England ‘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