1. Sky has announced quotas to improve the diversity of its programming.
The plans, which will be made across channels such as Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Sky 1, and Sky Arts, mean that 20% of onscreen talent and writers on newly commissioned programmes will come from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME). Sky also says at least one person with a senior production role will have a BAME background and that it will work closer with companies to find new talent.
These rules will be implemented for new shows across genres such as drama, factual, and entertainment, but will not apply to Sky News.
2. Stuart Murphy, director of entertainment channels at Sky, said in the statement that he hopes the plans will start a “sea change”.
Sky is dedicated to making programmes that feel representative of every one of the millions of viewers that watch our content every day, whatever their colour. So we have tackled the issue with the same sense of ambition that we show in all other areas of our business, setting ourselves a set of tangible goals that will hold us to account.
Our aim is to kick start a sea change in the onscreen representation of ethnic minorities on British television. It’s an incredibly exciting time, and I am very proud that Sky is going to be at the forefront.
4. In June 2013, the BBC launched its own plans to improve diversity.
Its plans were geared to providing training opportunities for talent, including more training internships and “a new top-level leadership development programme”. Director-general Tony Hall said of the initiative: “My aim is for the BBC to be the number-one destination for talented people regardless of their background. It’s time for action.”
5. However many people still believe that much more needs to be done, including actor and comedian Lenny Henry.
The quote above is from his speech at the BAFTA Television Lecture in March.
6. He also said:
Our most talented BAME actors are increasingly frustrated, and they have to go to America to succeed. You know who I’m talking about. David Oyelowo in The Help and The Butler. Idris Elba in Long Walk To Freedom, Prometheus and The Wire. Thandie Newton in Crash, Mission: Impossible. Chewitel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave; he was good in American Gangster too. David Harewood in Homeland.
Lennie James in The Walking Dead and Jericho. Marianne Jean-Baptiste, ladies and gentlemen, our first black British female Oscar nominee for Secrets & Lies, had to go Stateside to find work in Without a Trace.