Feature

United Kingdom: The pointless whiteness of television

In truth, a brown face in an English village is a common sight, said Charlie Brooker in The Guardian.

Charlie BrookerThe Guardian

A TV producer has caused a “predictable storm” by declaring that he casts only white people, said Charlie Brooker. Brian True-May said his Midsomer Murders crime series was set in country villages—in his words “the last bastion of Englishness”—and therefore all of the characters must be white in order for the show to ring true. Now he is stepping down, and the country is debating his theory, “with one side crying racism” while the other says introducing ethnic characters would be “PC gone mad.”

In truth, a brown face in an English village is a common sight. As someone who grew up in the English countryside, I can attest that, at least as far back as the 1970s, most villages had at least one Caribbean, Indian, or Chinese family “running the local takeaway.” And Midsomer Murders is ostensibly set in the present day, not in some pre-multicultural era. Moreover, the show is otherwise “hardly a slave to realism.” One of its murder victims was pinned to a lawn with croquet hoops and killed with a vintage bottle of claret fired from a catapult. With such plotlines, how can anyone argue that “the addition of a few brown faces might jolt the audience out of their suspension of disbelief?”

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