TV producer suspended over ‘all-white’ village row
Should Midsomer Murders have black and Asian characters? The jury’s out...
There has been mixed reaction to the suspension of the producer of the detective series Midsomer Murders after he said "it wouldn't work" if people from ethnic minorities were involved, and added: "We're the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way."
Brian True-May, who co-created the long-running series set in the fictional county of Midsomer, has been dropped from the production while the company that makes the show for ITV, All3Media, conducts an injury.
"We just don't have ethnic minorities involved," True-May had told the Radio Times, "because it wouldn't be the English village with them. It just wouldn't work. Suddenly we might be in Slough... We're the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way."
True-May was publicising the return of the series next week with a new lead actor, Neil Dudgeon, following the recent retirement of John Nettles. He admitted: "Maybe I'm not politically correct... I'm trying to make something that appeals to a certain audience, which seems to succeed. And I don't want to change it."
An ITV spokesman said the broadcaster was "shocked and appalled" by True-May's comments. But TV producers contacted by The First Post today suggest that's a simplistic reaction.
"First, Midsomer is a fantasy world - there's nothing real about it," one experienced drama producer said. "There've been something like 220 murders in this tiny rural community - that is not realistic. So whether there are black or Asian people, or blue people for that matter, is neither here nor there."
This producer continued: "The truth is True-May is a twit for bringing it up. He could have kept the fantasy going for years - he didn't need to talk about it."
But if we are to treat the programme as even the slightest bit real, then there should be an injection of black and/or Asian characters, said another producer.
"True-May is wrong. It is not true that you don't find ethnic minorities in English villages today. You do. Not many, but is is happening, especially in villages just outside the big towns and cities.
"If The Archers can have an Asian character [Usha] and one of the younger generation [Kate Aldridge ] can have two mixed race children, then so can Midsomer Murders."
The race equality thinktank the Runnymede Trust agreed that True-May's thinking was out of date in this regard.
"Clearly, as a fictional work, the producers of Midsomer Murders are entitled to their flights of fancy, but to claim that the English village is purely white is no longer true and not a fair reflection of our society," said Rob Berkeley, the trust's director. ·
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