Benedict Cumberbatch has joined the debate on the lack of diversity on British screens, saying that Hollywood offers more opportunities to black actors than the UK.
“I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the US] than in the UK and that’s something that needs to change,” the Sherlock star said on US talk show Tavis Smiley.
He went on to say, “Something’s gone wrong, we’re not being representative enough in our culture of different races and that really does need to step up a pace.
The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
1/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
The role that catapulted him to global fame: As a modern-day Sherlock Holmes in BBC drama Sherlock
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Benedict Cumberbatch stars alongside Keira Knightley in Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
3/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch bore an uncanny resemblance to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate (2013)
4/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
As Stephen Hawking in the 2004 BBC television film following the physicist's early years at Cambridge University
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Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Cumberbatch as Dr Frankenstein at the National Theatre in 2011
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Cumberbatch took on the role of tortured artist Vincent van Gogh in Alan Yentob's 2011 BBC drama-documentary Van Gogh: Painted With Words
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Benedict Cumberbatch as the idealistic Christopher Tietjens in 2012's Parade's End
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Looking sharp as John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
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With Adelaide Clemens in BBC Edwardian period drama Parade's End
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Alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, which won Best Film at the 2014 Oscars
11/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
As confectionery millionaire and rapist Paul Marshall in Atonement (2007); Sherlock creator Steven Moffat said he wanted Cumberbatch for the detective series after watching the film
“I don’t want to get into any debates about that, but it’s clear when you see certain migratory patterns that there are more opportunities here than in the UK.”
There have been a number of Black British stars who have found fame across the Atlantic, including Idris Elba on The Wire, Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave and David Harewood on Homeland. David Oyelowo has also received critical acclaim for his portrayal as civil rights activist in the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma.
However, this year’s Oscar nominations have come under fire for being all-white. Oyelowo did not receive a nod despite being hotly tipped for one - neither did Selma director Ava DuVernay.
Meanwhile Cumberbatch and fellow Brits Eddie Redmayne, Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones are all in the running at this year's Academy Awards after the nominations were announced a week ago.
Cumberbatch also mentioned comedian Lenny Henry, who launched a campaign last year calling for a greater presence of people of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) in the British broadcasting industry. The 38-year-old actor described him as a “a real force for good”.
Henry also encouraged people to boycott the BBC licence fee until changes were made to levels of diversity both in front and behind the camera.
Since Henry started his campaign, the BBC has announced a £2.1m diversity creative talent fund for the development of ideas from BAME individuals across all genres, along with traineeships.
Channel 4 have set out a new series diversity targets that must be met otherwise executives face bonus cuts.
Sky, too, pledged that by the end of 2015 20 per cent of the stars and writers of its UK-originated TV shows would come from a BAME background.Reuse content