Idris Elba’s ‘Luther’ ‘Didn’t Feel Authentically Black’, BBC Diversity Chief Says: He Had No Black Friends
As television series and networks aim to increase their diversity and inclusion practices, the Diversity Chief for BBC is sharing his thoughts on the popular series “Luther” starring Idris Elba.
“Luther” aired for five seasons between 2010 and 2019 on BBC. Idris Elba played homicide detective John Luther.
BBC’s Miranda Wayland said the network is looking to have more authentic portrayals of minorities.
She said at the MIPTV conference recently,
“When [Luther] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, black character lead. We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right? But after you got into about the second series you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic.”
She added that things should be taken further than hiring black directors.
At the same time, a BBC spokesperson said,
“Luther is a multi-award winning crime drama series and the iconic role of DCI John Luther has become one of TV’s most powerful detective characters of which we are tremendously proud. The BBC is committed to its continued investment in diversity and recent BBC One dramas I May Destroy You and Small Axe are testament to that. Of course people can have open discussions about our shows but that doesn’t mean it’s a statement of policy .”
Interestingly enough, “Luther” creator Neil Cross appeared to be surprised with Wayland’s remarks. He pointed out that the main reason Idris Elba even signed on to the role is because it wasn’t connected to race.
“I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a black man in modern Britain. It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write a black character. We would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a black character.”
BBC launched a Creative Diversity Unit in November 2019, naming June Sarpong as the network’s first Director of Creative Diversity.
He rolled out his plans for 2021 while speaking to The All-New Capital Weekender Feb. 19th. He said this year he’s,
“Definitely making more music, people that love my film and stuff, listen, I’m going to be making Luther: The Movie.”
“I’m super excited and I hope the fans are sort of excited for that. It’s been a long time coming for a movie, for people that have loved the show. We’ve been making the show for 10 years, so we’re making film.”
What are your thoughts on Miranda Wayland’s remarks? Let us know in the comments.