Ofcom’s report reveals television workforces still fail to resemble the British population
Our TV, as we love to remind ourselves and the rest of the world, is unique and uniquely British. Last month, the now former media minister John Whittingdale suggested that Britain’s public service broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – could in future be legally required to produce what he described as “distinctively British” programmes. Whittingdale cited Only Fools and Horses, Downton Abbey, The Great British Bake Off, Doctor Who, The Bodyguard and Fleabag as examples of the sort of programmes that would pass his test.
This raises lots of questions. First, if “Britishness” were to be legally mandated, who gets to define and measure it and by what criteria? Are shows such as Idris Elba’s Luther, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You and Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films, which explore the stories of black Britons – real and fictional – not also “distinctively British”?