Last night, the National Television Awards took place and it was a poor excuse for an award show spectacular. What baffled me the most however, was my lack of concentration towards the endless amount of terrible gags and pathetic, badly orchestrated jokes being thrown about because there was a much bigger underlying issue which seemed to be on everyone’s mind but quietly waiting to be addressed. Just where were all the ethnically diverse actors and actresses this year? Did they not receive their invitations?.
Newsbeat published an insightful article regarding the landscape of British TV insisting it has ‘diversity problems’. They flocked through the famous faces at the awards show to get their comments about the issues and majority of those featured seemed to agree with the premise put to them – we do in fact have a diversity issue. But for me, I always led myself to believe that British television excels when it comes to ethnic equality for the simple fact that there are vast opportunity of platforms which showcase heavily diverse casts throughout the year although they fail to gain prime time slots therefore miss the chance to impress prime time audiences.
That being said I consider myself to have quite the eclectic taste when it comes to my viewing habits so I guess I know where to find diversity on our screens but then that could very well be a significant factor to the problem we face. How can we except the average middle class white family to find themselves gripped in a hard hitting drama surrounding deprived black teenagers living on a council estate if it simply doesn't fit their taste?. They probably had no idea there was even a show of the sort on TV. That’s what I believe is the case for majority of those who sit on these panels deciding what’s ‘worthy’ of a nomination every year.
Out of the 62 prime time shows nominated for an award only one really seems to triumph diversity and it just so happened to produce the only two nominations at this year’s awards show who belong to an ethnic minority background. Eastenders produced two nominees in Richard Blackwood and Rakhee Thakrar. Both worthy winners in their respective categories but of course snubbed when It came to decision time.
Now, in no way am I criticising the winners because they are well deserving of the trophy along with anyone nominated because a nomination shows appreciation throughout the industry. However, I strongly believe the issue needs to be tackled head on because there are performances by ethnic minority actors going unnoticed year on year. Is a way of tackling the lack of diversity to simple stick a quota on nominations – someone of an ethnic background has to be represented in every category but then that would just defeat the whole foundation of these award shows. Or do our producers need to start forcing roles for ethnic minorities in prime time shows such as Downtown Abbey or Poldark where their presence could be questioned by viewers but their acting efforts would be noticed.
With all the controversy in America regarding the Oscars and the lack of diversity there. It just makes our domestic issue that more worrying as it is becoming a problem much bigger than anticipated. The key for society is to keep this issue focused on the lack of diversity in acting and nothing else. They simply want to be recognised in the same light.