Diversity 'underpins EVERY conversation at the BBC'

Diversity ‘underpins EVERY conversation at the BBC’ and is a ‘non-negotiable’ part of making programmes, head of comedy reveals

  • BBC head of comedy Shane Allen says diversity is constantly discussed
  • He says director of content Charlotte Moore keeps telling staff to factor it in 
  • Mr Allen said: ‘With Charlotte it’s non-negotiable, it’s a thing that underpins every conversation: what’s the diverse element to this?’

BBC bosses discuss diversity in ‘every conversation’ about new programmes and the issue is ‘non-negotiable’, the outlet’s head of comedy says.      

The corporation has said it would spend £100million of its content budget on diverse programming over three years, following protests from Black Lives Matter activists this summer. 

Shane Allen, who is responsible for the commissioning of all scripted comedy programmes to BBC channels, says director of content Charlotte Moore has been constantly telling staff not to forget to factor in diversity. 

He told The Guardian: ‘I’ve been part of regimes where you have to be seen to do something. With Charlotte it’s non-negotiable, it’s a thing that underpins every conversation: what’s the diverse element to this? And can it not be set in London?’

Shane Allen (pictured), who is responsible for the commissioning of all scripted comedy programmes to BBC channels, says director of content Charlotte Moore has been constantly telling staff not to forget to factor in diversity

It comes amid a new race row as Jamaica’s foreign minister Kamina Johnson-Smith criticised a clip from the BBC Three show Famalam (pictured)

The hiring of June Sarpong and Miranda Wayland to advise the corporation means there are now ‘really powerful voices in the room’ speaking about diversity, Mr Allen told the Edinburgh television festival.

He also defended sketch show Famalam, which has been branded ‘outrageous and offensive’ by Jamaica’s foreign minister. 

‘Don’t diss my beloved Famalam,’ he said. ‘To be relevant in comedy at a time when things can feel more anodyne, and in this woke culture where things are getting a little bit more sensitive. 

‘If you’re going to do something about tricky topics it’s got to be from those people and from those communities who’ve got that voice. To me, that’s what a sketch show looks like in 2020. I’ll back them to the hilt.’  

It comes amid a new race row as Jamaica’s foreign minister Kamina Johnson-Smith criticised a clip from the BBC Three show, depicting a Jamaican version of Channel 4 show Countdown, complete with a steel drum version of the show’s theme tune. 

Ms Johnson-Smith tweeted: ‘This is outrageous and offensive to the incredible country which I am proud to represent along with every Jamaican at home and within our #Diaspora. I will immediately be writing formally on this! #StopThisShow.’

The BBC defended Famalm, with channel controller Fiona Campbell saying it was not ‘malicious’, adding: ‘We stand by the creator’s brand of humour.’

She told the Edinburgh TV Festival: ‘Famalam is now in its third series and it is very successful.

‘It is not malicious humour and I think if you followed on social, the creators themselves said they are poking fun at all stereotypes.

‘There isn’t malice in the type of content.’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘Famalam… now in its third series, has an established brand of humour in line with audience expectations and is well known for confronting issues.’  

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