Lenny Henry warns that the BBC could lose BAME viewers to streaming services due to lack of representation

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

Lenny Henry says the BBC risks losing “large parts” of its BAME audience forever due to worse representation than streaming services such as Netflix.

Speaking in his new book Access All Areas: The Diversity Manifesto for TV and Beyond (via The Times), Henry says the high-profile death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, which sparked worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, made him realise that “systemic change” is needed in the film and TV industry.

“A lot of the time at work, I am lonely. Very lonely,” he said, revealing that he is often the only Black man in work meetings,” adding: “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.

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“All the research shows this growing segment of the population uses streaming services more than their white counterparts and feels that services like Netflix do a better job at representing their lives than programmes produced by broadcasters such as the BBC.”

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

Henry is the latest in a long line of Black British creatives to call out the film and TV industries for their lack of diversity.

Earlier this year, director Steve McQueen criticised the racism in the UK film and TV industries, calling it “shameful”. The 12 Years A Slave director added the race imbalance in the industries was “blindingly, obviously wrong”.

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