After James Blunt row, Chris Bryant takes aim at overwhelmingly white Baftas

Shadow minister for the arts criticised lack of ethnic diversity

Nick Clark
Monday 09 February 2015 20:44
The Labour MP described the lack of diversity as “disturbing”
The Labour MP described the lack of diversity as “disturbing”

The shadow minister for the arts, Chris Bryant, has criticised the “disturbing” lack of diversity in British film-making, after no black or ethnic minority performers were honoured at the Baftas.

The almost total absence of black actors and directors at the top of the industry “feels like an insulting throwback to a bygone era”, Mr Bryant wrote.

“A British film without any ethnic diversity can hardly portray the full richness of modern Britain,” he said.

“Our history gives us an enormous cultural advantage, enabling us to reach out to every part of the world, but if our films only reflect one sliver of British life we shall have done ourselves a disservice.”

Producers and directors must make more of an effort to portray the lives of diverse groups on screen, he added. “Commissioners need to search further than the leafy realms of Midsomer and 1950s Oxford and Cambridge for their settings.”

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones alongside Baftas presenter David Beckham (centre) after the awards ceremony

The shadow minister continued: “Black people pay their licence fee and their taxes, too. They too should be able to expect that British films and British television reflect their lives.” Mr Bryant, who attended the Bafta awards ceremony on Sunday, said he counted “barely a dozen” non-white faces in the crowd.

His strongly worded intervention comes just weeks after he became embroiled in a bitter row with the singer James Blunt after speaking out against the public-school domination of the entertainment world.

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