8/31/2007 04:51:00 p.m. -
August 31, 2007 • Posted By John Bowman
The BBC has hit back at claims of racism by citing Freema Agyeman as an example of how it is nurturing ethnic talent.
TV writer Jimmy McGovern made the accusation during an interview on BBC Five Live to promote his new stage play King Cotton, which is among commemorations marking the bicentenary of Britain abolishing the slave trade.
BBC News says interviewer Simon Mayo asked him if the country was less racist than it once was, to which McGovern replied: "I have got to say this, you will not like this. But I've worked a lot in the BBC, you know.
"I love the BBC as an institution and as an organisation and you do see lots of black faces in the BBC. But you see them in the canteen. You do not see them in positions of power.
"It would appear to me that one of the most racist institutions in England is in fact the BBC."
Mayo called it "a very serious allegation", saying the BBC would respond, and later read out a statement in which the corporation said: "What really matters is that we reflect our audiences through our programmes.
"The BBC's ambition is to reflect the ethnic and social mix of people around the country. We're actively seeking and nurturing ethnic talents both on and off the air.
"This has been coming through in our output with a range of presenters and reporters across our peak-time programmes, for example Freema Agyeman in Doctor Who, the forthcoming Omid Djalili show, Dance X, and dramas such asWaterloo Road.
"It is something we are always looking to improve on."
Last year in an interview, showrunner Russell T Davies refuted McGovern's claim that there was little decent drama on ITV at 9pm and disagreed with him over how drama could portray world truths.