Broadcasters have been accused of ignoring Britain's “third largest ethnic minority group” by either giving them stereotypical roles or leaving them out of programmes altogether.
BBC and independent networks were condemned in an open letter to culture minister Ed Vaizey of failing to reflect accurately the multicultural make-up of Britain.
The letter written by the campaign group British East Asian Artists (BEAA), representing Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other ethnic groups from “east of India”, accuses broadcasters of treating them “more than any other ethnic group” of being outsiders.
“East Asian males are rarely seen on our screens and mixed-race East Asians are particularly rare, not fitting the generic ”Chinese/Japanese“ stereotype,” the letter stated.
“When East Asians are featured they are nearly always heavily accented, the women passive and submissive, the men brutish, asexual and devoid of any individualistic character. East Asians are, more often than any other minority ethnic group, rarely seen as indigenous.”
The group cited the absence of East Asian actors in popular soaps. In EastEnders the best was “one Chinese DVD seller who lasted barely three months” while Coronation Street managed just one Chinese immigrant who appeared regularly.
The letter was sent following a call by Mr Vaizey for broadcasters to improve their record on employing actors from ethnic backgrounds. He responded to the open letter by praising the “excellent points” and offering to invite the BEAA to his next discussion on the issue.