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Lenny: TV needs more black faces.

MIDLAND comedian Lenny Henry has accused the TV industry of racism.

Little has changed since the era of Alf Garnett, he said, arguing that affirmative action was needed to ensure more black faces both on screen and behind the camera.

"When I started, I was surrounded by a predominantly white workforce. Thirty-two years later, not a lot has changed," he said in a speech to the Royal Television Society.

"How many black British comedians are working on mainstream TV today? One?

Two? Ethnic minorities are pitifully under-served.

"Is there anybody going out to the comedy clubs with their diversity goggles on? Are the researchers casting their net far and wide? This is an area that needs a massive kick up the bum."

Henry, who was born in Dudley, accused drama bosses of leaving out black and Asian faces, singling out period drama.

He said: "By the time Queen Victoria was on the throne, this country had a sizeable black population, so where are they?"

Recalling the days of Till Death Us Do Part and Love Thy Neighbour, Henry told the audience: "TV producers of the 1960s and 1970s missed a great opportunity.

"If they had been more truthful in their observations, who's to say we couldn't have encouraged more young black kids at school or prevented the Brixton riots even?" he added.

BIMIGHAM

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 9, 2008
Words:248
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