British television is failing us. It’s excluding stories, talent, on and offscreen, and promoting only a “pathetic” number of people from minority-ethnic backgrounds to positions of power. These are not my contemporary thoughts. They’re the verdict of broadcasting chiefs back in 2000, when I was still in my teens. Twenty years ago all Britain’s major broadcasters were together promising to radically improve diversity and representation, to stop the “endless meetings” and to reflect the “plain realities of life”. It was an era when David Olusoga – a man now recognised as one of the best historians and presenters on British TV – found himself, in his own words, “sidelined, dismissed and desperately unhappy”. Giving the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV festival this week, he disclosed that the racism and prejudice he encountered had left him “so isolated and so devalued that I twice slipped into clinical depression”. Olusoga’s candour and courage prompted widespread media coverage. That he described his experience so eloquently on such a prestigious platform was certainly news; yet the content of that experience, for many other minority-ethnic people who work in TV, was not. The subtext was important. Olusoga admitted his reluctance to expose himself so… Read full this story
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