Sir Lenny Henry: BBC needs to embrace diversity

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 4 January 2021
Lenny Henry

Sir Lenny Henry

Sir Lenny Henry has encouraged the BBC to embrace diversity on the screen and behind the camera or they could lose a "large part" of its audience

Sir Lenny Henry has warned the BBC it risks losing a “large part” of its audience if it doesn’t embrace diversity.

The 62-year-old comedy star has argued that “systemic change” is needed among terrestrial broadcasters – which also includes ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – if they don’t want to lose viewers to streaming services, because many black and Asian viewers feel the likes of Netflix “do a better job at representing their lives”.

Writing in ‘Access All Areas: The Diversity Manifesto for TV and Beyond’, he argued: "The demography of the UK is changing. By 2031, one in five Britons will be from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background and that number is forecast to increase to almost one-third of the population by 2061. "

Lenny warned mainstream broadcasters that they must address the issue as soon as possible or they risk falling behind rival streaming services.

He said: "If British broadcasters don’t tackle the diversity grey rhino now, they run the risk of losing large parts of their audience forever.

"They risk losing money and favour. So maybe it’s time for all the British broadcasters to confront the grey rhino racing towards them before it’s too late."

Despite this, the ‘Syndicate’ actor argued that simply putting more non-white faces on screen amounts to “fake diversity”.

He said: “Diversity behind the camera, for me, is what counts. Telling our own stories from our unique perspectives.”

In spite of his own success, Lenny admitted he often feels “lonely” at work because he’s often the only black man in the room.

He confessed: “A lot of the time at work, I am lonely. Very lonely.”

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